Timing is Crucial
We often see many couples transition to assisted living somewhat 'late' as their quality of life residing at home has generally been worsening for quite some time. Yet, they delay their transition to more appropriate care because they believe they would lose their sense of independence by moving into a senior living community. However, if the couple is limited to one or two rooms in their home, which is frequently the situation, with physical or cognitive complications seriously restricting one partner and caregivers are consistently in the home, independence has likely already been lost. The healthier option would be to move into an assisted living or memory care community where proper care is readily available, which will provide more time to enjoy family, friends, and social activities. So often, people tell us, "I wish I would have moved here sooner."
Make Decisions as Early as Possible
Surprisingly, many forms of dementia, including those related to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, have relatively foreseeable progression timetables. Most individuals experience a swift deterioration of cognitive and physical capabilities in the latter years of dementia. Many couples wish to live together for as long as they can, and they seek out senior living options that will grant them the means to do so for as long as possible. Modern assisted living and memory care communities are innovative enough to make this a practical option, but the sooner couples make these decisions, the better.
The Most Common Scenario
Of all the situations we encounter, the most common scenario occurs when one partner requires memory care while the other does not. In many cases, the couple is allowed to live with one another in an assisted living community. This is by implementing a care plan that provides dementia support to the partner who needs it, such as assistance with activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.). On some occasions, the partner who requires dementia care will occupy the memory care section of the same senior living community during the day to allow them to participate in activities that align with their dementia care needs. This arrangement also allows the partner without dementia to freely engage in activities that pique their interests with the assurance that their partner is being appropriately cared for. The couple can then spend their evenings together in their shared suite. A few communities in the Northern Virginia area offer an intermediate memory care option for individuals with moderate dementia care needs.
While relatively uncommon, some senior living communities will accommodate couples in memory care even when only one partner has dementia. This is not typically allowed because some states, including Virginia, require patients to have an official dementia diagnosis before residing in a memory care community. However, some communities can obtain a waiver that permits them to house couples under these conditions anyway. These communities will also iron out the logistics necessary to allow each partner access to community activities suited to their specific physical and cognitive needs and capabilities. This is one more way for couples to remain together even when their care requirements differ.
When Dementia Advances
There are numerous causes of dementia, and each one advances at a different rate. Moreover, most types of dementia involve neuromuscular and other physical effects at various stages of the disease’s progression. For instance, in the later phases of Alzheimer’s, people will ordinarily experience limited mobility, speech, and muscle function. Eventually, those with progressive dementia will typically require specialized care in a memory care community. This stage is incredibly difficult for couples, and their options and decisions, with cost being at the forefront. In some cases, couples will need to move into separate suites or even different senior living communities to ensure that both partners receive the proper care.
Despite the challenges, senior living communities consistently attempt to oblige couples with varying conditions and abilities to grant them as much time together as possible. Our senior care experts can work with you to find assisted living or memory care communities best suited to make this happen.
For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.