How do we know when we shouldn’t leave my mother alone anymore? Any basic guidelines for knowing it is time for her to have full-time care? Will we just know?

The decision to move a parent or loved one into a care facility or bring in help full-time is a daunting one and answers are not always clear cut and obvious. Since most dementia patients tend to have good days and bad days, when looking at care options and timing, it is important to focus on worst case scenarios and what is going on with them realistically, even if it is painful to admit.

Some key behaviors to look at: Is she easily confused? Does she know how to use the telephone or would she be able to respond in an emergency situation? Is she wandering or leaving the house and forgetting where she was going? Is she leaving old food in the refrigerator and eating it after expiration dates? Is she eating and drinking enough (you might notice weight changes)? Is she sleeping more or is she up during the night? Have her housekeeping habits changed? Is she still able to pay her bills, take medications, keep up with hygiene and remain socially engaged? Once you start answering these questions as they pertain to your mom, the more you will see patterns and changes, and you will know if she needs full-time care.

Please keep in mind, the earlier you are able to introduce care partners to her, the less confused she may be later on. By allowing her to meet and get to know people who may be coming into her home and “invading” her space while she is still capable of getting to know them, she may be more willing to accept them into her life.

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