Considering memory care for a family member with dementia can raise many questions, including how long the care may last. However, the need for memory care comes down to the safety and security of the patient as they enter the mid-to-late stages of the disease. The services provided by memory care facilities are highly supportive for both patients and family members. Memory care can help make the late stages of dementia more comfortable as the disease progresses.

Types of Dementia

There are several types of dementia that each have their own timeline of progression, but all can benefit from memory care services. Dementia includes Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), among other types. The length of memory care varies depending on which form of dementia a person has and its progression rate. Patients suffering from CJD, for example, may be in care for much less time because the disease moves rapidly, often less than a year from diagnosis until the final stages. Alzheimer’s, conversely, may last for many years.

Impacts on Memory Care

Beyond the type of dementia a person is suffering from, there are several other factors that can play a role in how long memory care services are needed or can last:

  • Physical and mental health. Current physical and mental health can also play a role in memory care. A person who is strong physically and has positive mental resilience may not need the assistance of memory care until much later in the progression of the disease. However, a person who is already experiencing negative physical and mental health may need the support of a memory care facility more quickly because their health has caused a more rapid progression of their dementia.
  • The preferences and support of the family. In some cases of memory care, in-home services are provided. This option can be very appealing to many family members who want to be sure their loved one has all the support they need, particularly when the family is unable to fully provide long-term care themselves. This could be for a short time or for years, and they may transition to a facility that can provide an even more extensive type of memory care. The decision to move from in-home care to a memory care facility is determined by the family with the support of the medical professionals providing regular care.
  • Availability. There are many types of facilities to meet the needs of those who may require their support. The family, with the help of a medical professional, should identify those needs and locate the facility that best meets them.

The Average Length of Memory Care

The timeline for memory care is difficult because of the many factors that play an ongoing role. Some patients may only require care for a few months because of the rapid progression of dementia, while others may require years of care. However, the average length of memory care is two to three years.

The purpose of memory care is to provide a high quality of life for a person with dementia. While families can provide this for their loved ones, the time and commitment required by a person with late-stage dementia is often more than a family can provide, making long-term memory care a viable and supportive option. Regardless of the length of stay, understanding the impact of memory care on a person means that they are safe and protected from not just the environment around them but from themselves as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Long Does End-Stage Dementia Last?

A: While there are many factors that can determine how long each stage of dementia lasts, the average time for the end stage is 1 to 3 years. As the end stage progresses, there is an increase in the suffering a person with dementia experiences. Their cognitive ability becomes severely limited, and they have increasing difficulty understanding their surrounding environment.

Q: What Are the Last Stages of Dementia Before Death?

A: Although the last stages may allow for communication, a person in the final stages of dementia will experience a limited capacity to communicate, often only speaking in fragmented sentences or individual words. They will have a hard time speaking about any pain they may be suffering and may experience an inability to recognize people or their environment. Their responses will be extremely limited.

Q: What are the Seven Stages of Dementia?

A: The seven stages of dementia include:

  1. No Memory Deficit
  2. Age-Associated Memory Impairment
  3. Mild Cognitive Impairment
  4. Mild Dementia
  5. Moderate Dementia
  6. Severe Cognitive Decline
  7. Severe Dementia

It is generally around stages 5 and 6 that family members may wish to enter their loved one into memory care. During these stages, mental recognition and general cognitive abilities become impaired.

Q: How Long Can a Person with Dementia Live at Home?

A: The ability to live at home for a person with dementia depends on the rate at which the disease progresses. Because there are several factors that determine how quickly the condition advances, it is important to monitor the symptoms your loved one is experiencing so that when it is time to transfer to a memory care facility, they can get the help they need immediately. The longer a loved one can remain in the home, however, the better.

Rocky Mountain Assisted Living for Memory Care

Knowing the right time to place a loved one in the hands of a professional memory care facility is important not only to them but to you and your family as well. Providing the extensive long-term care necessary in the mid-to-late stages of dementia can be overwhelming and difficult for family members. The importance of day-to-day care and routines for those with dementia is key to providing a sense of consistency and familiarity. This can help the person remain comfortable in their everyday life as they progress through the disease. If you have questions about dementia and memory care, contact us today and let our professionals help you get the information you need to make the decisions that will help your loved one.