People are living longer – the average lifespan now being 85 years old. And, as baby boomers begin to retire, a larger segment of the population is facing old age. One out of every four boomers reaching age 65 will live past the age of 90, and one-tenth of them past the age of 95. Up to half of all people over the age of 85 or older may have some form of dementia. With age being one of the factors leading to the development of dementia, it’s easy to see that the number of people who will be facing memory loss is substantial.
Memory loss can have multiple causes. It is often caused by dementia, with 50-80% of dementia cases being the result of Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes of memory loss include traumatic brain injury, stroke, alcohol and drug abuse, and other diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Even mild memory loss can cause serious problems. Incidents of misplacing keys or forgetting to pay bills can be frustrating; but, forgetting to turn off stoves and heaters or getting lost can become life-threatening. Safety concerns often make memory care a necessity. If you or a loved one suspects a memory loss problem, contact a medical professional for an evaluation. When you’re ready, you can use our directory to locate a memory care facility in your area.
As people age, their brain cells die more quickly than they can be replaced. This slowly impacts their ability to remember things such as someone’s name or where they put their car keys, making “senior moments” a normal part of the aging process. However, significant memory problems are another matter entirely and should be discussed with a medical professional.
Although dementia is more common in older adults, it is not a normal part of the aging process.
Dementia occurs when a larger number of specific brain cells die, once-healthy brain cells stop working, or brain cells lose connections with other brain cells. More brain cells are affected with dementia than with the normal aging process that leads to “senior moments.”
When a medical professional uses the term “memory loss,” it’s usually in conjunction with dementia. Many diseases fall under the dementia umbrella including:
Dementia is a general term that describes a deterioration in mental processes caused by disease or injury to the brain that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It’s characterized by problems with memory, impaired reasoning and personality changes.
Dementia, which affects cognitive function (memory, thought processes and reasoning), generally begins to affect a person’s functioning slowly and then advances to more severe stages causing a person to depend completely upon others for basic activities of daily living (ADLs).
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, but memory loss alone doesn’t signify dementia. Dementia can also affect thought processes and reasoning, impact a person’s emotions, change their personality, and may cause delusions and hallucinations.
The following signs are not consistent with normal memory loss and may indicate dementia:
Although there is no cure for memory loss associated with dementia, there are memory care options. As a person experiences the cognitive decline associated with dementia, they will eventually require 24-hour supervision.
At first, someone with memory problems may be able to live at home with help from loved ones who, in turn, get support and assistance from:
But as dementia progresses, needs increase beyond those that can be provided by a spouse or other unpaid caregiver. Eventually, memory care in a facility may be the best option for all concerned.
Designed to meet the specialized needs of a person dealing with memory loss, memory care is a distinct type of long-term care. A structured environment (with well-defined, planned and organized routines and schedules) is the foundation upon which memory care is built.
Additionally, memory care facilities provide the following services and amenities:
Goals of memory care should include:
Memory care facilities include specialized nursing homes or specialized areas within nursing homes, specialized memory care areas in assisted living communities or memory care specific facilities. Although all states regulate and license senior care facilities, memory care is only regulated in approximately 50% of states in the US; therefore, it’s critical to compare facilities carefully before making a final decision.
Choosing any out of home placement can be hard and emotionally exhausting but taking the time to thoroughly research your options can may a huge difference in your loved one’s quality of life and can impact your family’s financial security. Our directory will guide you as you begin the process of locating memory care facilities in your area.