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If a close family member needs assisted living services, you may be worried about more than just their physical well-being. But after the initial concern, things tend to move on to the timetable. While the average length of stay in a memory care unit tends to be more long-term, there are various factors that may shorten or extend the time that your family member will be part of a memory care community.

That said, the average length that a patient will stay in memory care is measured in years, not days or weeks. In fact, most patients that stay in an assisted living facility will be there for two to three years. However, there are exceptions with the length of stay in a memory care unit. Some patients may only need a few months while others may need to stay for a decade or more — it all depends on how your family member responds to treatment and how they progress in a memory care unit.

But a memory care unit can do more than just house your loved one for a period of time. They feature highly trained staff and resources that your loved one will need to rely on to help them keep up with their basic day-to-day tasks, as well as lifting their spirits and helping them engage more with others. That can be better than keeping them in their own home where they’ll miss out on those helpful resources and interactions.

When Is Memory Care Needed?

While the average length of stay in a memory care unit may be a few years, it’s true that some family members need more support and care if they’re suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or another degenerative diagnosis. Your family member may be able to manage their day-to-day today, but over time they’ll start to become more disorganized and unable to remember simple things, such as where they left their keys or whether they closed the garage door before heading in.

To be sure, the symptoms may start off mild, but things will inevitably progress at some point, eventually challenging their ability to take care of themselves and maintain their independence. Beyond the social and cognitive worries, there may also be concerns about your loved one’s safety and their ability to get through the day without putting themselves into harm’s way. If they frequently drive or use public transportation, the concerns can be even more acute — what if they don’t make it home?

The Warning Signs of Memory Impairment

If you’re wondering about whether your family member will need to stay in a memory care unit at some point, it may help to look at the warning signs of a memory impairment. Worrying about a family member is just the start, but if your family member already has caregivers that are voicing concerns, it may be a good time to look into the assisted living care provided by a memory care unit.

Other warning signs include careless mistakes with their finances or a reduction in personal hygiene such as failing to bathe, dress or use the bathroom properly. Furthermore, if a doctor has remarked about a family member’s cognitive decline, you may want to step up your search for a memory care unit. Additionally, if you notice any changes in the behavior or thought processes of your loved one, a length of stay in an assisted living facility may be in order.

On a more serious note, warning signs such as unexplained bruises, cuts and other injuries could indicate the physical signs of decline, as could an inability to keep up with their medications or constant complaints about difficulties in their normal, day-to-day lives. These are all indications that their existing living situation may be too complicated for them and that they need help.

What Affects the Average Length of Stay in a Memory Care Unit?

There are many things that can affect the average length of stay in a memory care unit. 

First and foremost, the type of memory impairment that your family member is dealing with will be an indication as to how long they may need to stay in a memory care unit. Dementia and other degenerative diseases all have their own progression rates — some settling in over years while others may also affect their overall health in ways that may reduce their time in an assisted living facility.

Another factor has to do with the overall health and outlook of your family member. If they’re doing well and have a positive outlook on life, it’s often the case that they may be able to live independently for a while longer. But if their health — and mental health — has started to deteriorate and they’re not able to take care of their normal, day-to-day duties, it may be time to get them some help.

If your loved one is in need of some professional help, the professionals at The Moments can help. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a tour.

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