Having a loved one living with memory loss, such as with Alzheimer’s disease, is a reality for thousands of Canadian families. If you are one of these families, recognizing the signs it is time for specialized memory care is crucial to provide the best overall care and support for everyone involved.

Memory care refers to the services provided for those living with memory loss. Specialized memory care environments are secure environments, staffed 24/7 by certified medical professionals with specialized training in caring for people living with memory loss. Your loved one will stay in a safe and judgment-free environment, complete with activities to help support their cognitive function and also provide a success-oriented and failure-free program.

Signs Your Loved One Needs Memory Care

Memory loss affects everyone differently depending on what area of the brain is affected. It isn’t a condition that provides a play-by-play outline, so understanding the signs that your loved one needs memory care can help you decide what to do before it becomes an unsafe situation.

Apparent Health Changes

One of the apparent signs your loved one may need care is seeing physical changes in their health and appearance. It is important to recognize these changes, as they may be the first signs that the person needs additional support and that it may no longer be safe for them to live independently.

Managing the Medications

Medication management is an executive function that involves organization, time management, and awareness of changes in health. Many people living with memory loss struggle to safely manage their medications on their own. This can lead to significant consequences if it’s not managed daily.

Memory care can take over some of the day-to-day responsibilities in this area, ensuring that prescribed and over-the-counter medications are given correctly and for the right reasons. They can also monitor the overall health and well-being of your loved one and make suggestions to adjust medications as their needs progress.

Weight Loss/Gain

Weight loss or gain is a major factor for many people living with memory loss. They may believe they have already eaten, or they may over-consume, believing they have not eaten, even though they just had a meal or snack. Your loved one may also no longer have the executive functioning to make healthy meal choices, such as eating only junk food.

Managing the day-to-day responsibilities of shopping and meal planning can often be a challenge. You may also find spoiled food in their kitchen or food prepared unsafely, which can lead to foodborne illnesses.

Lack of Self-Care

Another physical red flag that it may be time for memory care is your loved one’s appearance. Most people take pride in daily bathing, using hygiene products such as deodorant and soap, dressing up, and combing their hair. People living with memory loss often struggle to ensure all personal care steps are taken, often because it takes a series of steps to complete a single task. People with memory loss often require some cues or reminders to ensure all personal care steps are followed through on. Note that fear of water and apathy are also common with memory loss, which can make personal care more challenging.

Safety and Security

Since memory loss is progressive, the safety of your loved one should be top priority. Signs for concern include leaving stove burners on, having unexplainable cuts or bruises, or forgetting where they are in familiar places. Look out for disorientation regarding time and place, as this may increase their risk of wandering or getting lost. Lack of judgment, rationalization, and reasoning may also put your loved one at increased risk of unsafe situations.

Behavioural Changes

Depending on what part of the brain is affected, memory loss can sometimes cause behavioural changes and challenges. This may lead to inappropriate behaviour in social settings that may attract negative attention or put your loved one at increased risk in the community. Since rationalization and reasoning are often affected by memory loss, the person may need the support of a judgment-free and knowledgeable approach to decrease the risk of these behaviours, in a place with like-minded people.


Confusion and disorientation regarding time and place are extremely common for those living with memory loss. Ensuring a safe environment that supports people experiencing disorientation is very important.


We all tend to forget things from time to time, such as where we left our car keys or forgetting to pick up a particular item at the grocery store. These incidents are completely normal and are not a cause for concern. It is when you aren’t aware that you are forgetting that is cause for concern.

If your loved one constantly repeats questions, does not remember recent conversations, has disorientation in very familiar places, or is experiencing loss of executive functioning, it may be time for memory care.

Wandering Off

A huge safety risk for people living with memory loss is wandering. If your loved one is showing signs of wandering away from places, even familiar places, their safety is at risk.

Your loved may experience confusion and disorientation when going for a walk away from their home. Their judgment can be impaired and may result in walking into traffic, not following traffic safety rules, not wearing weather-appropriate clothing, or not knowing how to get back home even in the most familiar neighbourhoods.

Agitation and Aggression

Forgetfulness, confusion, and disorientation can cause those living with memory loss to become agitated or aggressive very quickly. In their mind, they may understand and know what they want to relay, but they cannot express themselves properly. This can cause anger and frustration.

Accusations of theft, manipulation, and verbal abuse are common among people living with memory loss. If your loved one is showing signs of aggression such as hitting, biting, or kicking, they may require specialized care, especially memory care.

Reduced Attention to Finances

Financial management is an executive function that most people living with memory loss struggle to manage. As the condition progresses, financial management can become a challenging task since the person can no longer grasp working with numbers and the multiple steps involved in managing day-to-day finances. Poor financial decisions are common, which can often result in missed bill payments, overpayment or repeated payments, excessive spending, risk-taking, or trusting people with their financial matters who do not have their best interests in mind.

Money matters are a hard subject to discuss, particularly with an elderly parent. If finances are not attended to, your loved one’s financial future may be in trouble.

A Decline in the Caregiver’s Health

Those who are fortunate to have a caregiver for their loved one, be it a family member or a hired personal worker, should take note of their physical and mental health.

Over time, depending on the rate of decline in the loved one’s health, the caregiver can suffer mental burnout, physical exhaustion, and lack of self-care. Without intention, this stress can be transferred to the patient. This can only mean one thing; it is time your loved one is placed into professional memory care.

Memory & Company’s Respite Hotel Service for Memory Care

Once you have decided when to send your loved one to memory care, put your trust into the loving hands of the team at Memory & Company, a designated safe haven for your loved one. Our compassionate team of nurses, personal/social care workers, gerontologists, and recreational therapists offers professional care and support.

Our goal is to provide the best service and treatment to those living with memory loss and their caregivers. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you along this journey.