Your mom who is 78-years-old and lives alone forgets to pay her bills. She can’t remember how to use the kitchen stove. She forgets appointments. These are signs of memory loss, and she may need memory care. Memory care is care for people who have diagnosed with memory loss and who need help with areas of daily living (ADLs). If you or your loved suspects there is a memory problem, contact a medical professional for evaluation. And if you need to find memory care facilities in your area, search SeniorLiving.org’s database. More Senior Living Articles Senior Lifestyles: What Are All My Options Paying For Senior Care Home Care: The Most Affordable Option Best Places In The US To Retire Aging Well: How To Master The Art CCRCs: What Is Continuum Care And Why Should I Care?
About Memory Loss As we age, we lose brain cells. This loss of cells sometimes affects our ability to remember a name or remember where we left our car keys. These are often referred to as “senior moments.” It is a normal process of aging. But significant changes in our memory refer to something else. When the term memory loss is used, it’s usually associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) because AD is the most common type of loss, occurring in about 5 million Americans. The broader term for memory loss is dementia (not a specific disease itself), which is the loss of memory from brain trauma, stroke, or a degenerative disease, as well as a loss of at least one other brain function like language. Dementia affects your mental abilities, which affect your ability to carry out ADLs. People with dementia usually have trouble solving problems, doing daily tasks, and may even have trouble controlling their emotions. According to familydoctor.org, here are some signs that are not part of normal memory loss. Forgetting things much more often than you used toForgetting how to do things you’ve done many times beforeTrouble learning new thingsRepeating phrases or stories in the same conversationTrouble making choices or handling moneyNot being able to keep track of what happens each day Other diseases that fall under dementia include the following: Vascular DementiaMixed DementiaMild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)Parkinson’s DiseaseHuntington’s DiseaseWernicke-Korsakoff SyndromeDementia with Lewy BodiesFrontotemporal DementiaNormal Pressure HydrocephalusCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) Alzheimer’s disease is according to the National Institute on Aging, an “irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” It accounts for 50% to 80% of dementia cases. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Memory Care Facilities Memory care environments are designed for those that need help with ADLs but who still want a level of independence. They provide a safe and secure place with professional staff that is trained to care for those with memory loss. These facilities are usually located as a separate wing of an assisted living community called special care units (SCUs). Memory care units have 24-hour support, private and semi-private rooms, and locked and alarmed premises to assure no one wanders off. Facilities will have common areas for meals, activities and socialization. Daily activities are planned that help residents with their memory. Some activities may include: Games and triviaExerciseBakingMusic therapyPet appreciationLocal field tripsReminiscingNature programs Some Alzheimer’s care facilities have Snoezelen Rooms (combination of Dutch words “dose” and “sniff”). These rooms created by Dutch psychologists in the 1970s, are controlled environments that residents will find relaxing, safe and stress-free. They are often designed with soothing colors, relaxing sounds, aromatherapy, and comfortable chairs and blankets. Studies show that Snoezelen having a calming affect on Alzheimer’s patients. In a recent Dallas news article, Angela Green, the co-director of an assisted living facility with an Alzheimer’s unit said this about their Snoezelen Room: “We found that the colors and the sound and the motion and the touch that they’re able to experience, all of those things involve all of their senses and give them a complete enjoyment of their surroundings and something to interact with,” Green said. ” It’s not uncommon to see one laughing or dancing when they’re in the environment, and even having good memory recall to the point that they can answer questions.” Caring for Your Memory There is much scientists do not know about the brain, aging, and memory. But one area that shows promise in brain health is memory training. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a memory training study that ran six years and involved nearly 3,000 people with an average age of 73. Some of the people were given memory training (like the skills involved in puzzles), while others received no training. After the training, those trained on memory showed ‘significantly higher performance than those who received no training.’ In addition, those trained reported less difficulty performing activities of daily living than their untrained counterparts.