Memory Care Options: Choosing the Right Senior Care Service
When it comes to memory care, there are a number of options that caregivers may not know about. Despite common misconceptions, you don’t necessarily have to consider assisted living or nursing homes as an option. Although this is the preferred route for many, there are both in-home and residential options.
Depending on the progression of memory loss, many seniors can choose which services meet their needs at the time. This is known as the “continuum of care”. Seniors and caregivers can choose senior services that meet their individual needs and change or upgrade as-needed. Truthfully, knowing exactly what is needed can be difficult; this article can serve as a guide to help you decide what might work for you.
Memory Services At-Home
Keeping your senior at home is a great option, assuming there is a support network willing to handle the responsibilities. Some at-home caregivers utilize adult daycare or senior community centers to help balance caregiving schedules with their personal lives.
Whether you’re a family member or a professional caregiver, these responsibilities often include:
- Transportation: Are you able to provide consistent transportation? Seniors often have frequent appointments and need help with groceries and other errands. Seniors also need to socialize and enjoy themselves; senior community centers are an excellent option.
- Daily Assistance: Are you capable of helping with activities of daily living? This can mean anything helping with cooking, cleaning, hygiene, dressing, and transferring. Helping with daily living requires physical strength and patience so make sure you have the resources you need.
- Monitoring: Are you able to provide consistent supervision? Depending on memory loss, some seniors require full-time monitoring to prevent medication errors, wandering, falls, and other home-related dangers. This can be hard on one person; many create a network of family, caregivers, and friends to help.
- Chores: Are you able to handle all the extra chores? Some family caregivers struggle to manage personal and caregiving duties. At-home caregiving means extra laundry, dishes, and housework that can overwhelm anyone.
- Finances: Can you manage all the expenses? Keeping a senior at home usually requires managing their home and finances. Caregivers often pay the bills, budget for groceries, and ensure seniors can afford medical care. You may also have to invest in a daycare program or homecare worker, which can be expensive.
Assisted Living Communities
For many caregivers, the needs of a dementia patient progress beyond what any one person can provide. Assisted living is an excellent choice for seniors with mild to moderate dementia symptoms. In this environment, seniors receive the care they need while maintaining their independence. Additionally, many assisted living communities offer memory-enhancing programs; some even offer their own sections for intensive, specialized memory care.
Below are some common characteristics you can expect from assisted living communities:
- Privacy: Assisted living offers a community-like environment with private or shared accommodations. These communities provide hands-on services (such as meals, mediation, hygiene, housekeeping, etc.) without 24/7 supervision. Rooms are designed to provide personal spaces with immediate access to entertainment, healthcare, and emergency services.
- Zero Worries: All household duties are taken care, including cleaning and bill-pay. Residents don’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, laundry, or medication management. Staff can help seniors bathe, dress, eat, and more. Attendants also help seniors with transportation to appointments and errands.
- Socialization: Seniors are particularly vulnerable to social isolation. Assisted living connects seniors with their peers and provides endless activities and events to encourage socialization. Seniors can relax, enjoy themselves, and make new friends.
- Physical Fitness: Assisted living is committed to physical activity and healthy living. To keep minds and bodies active, most communities offer anything from a simple treadmill to bowling, hiking, golfing, swimming, and more.
- Security: Assisted living understands the importance of safety and mobility. Each community utilizes a number of security measures to prevent injury and promote feelings of safety. These include handrails, elevators, color-coded hallways, individual emergency calls, and more.
Nursing Home Facilities
A nursing home provides a highly structured and care-intensive environment. Unlike assisted living, nursing homes are less focusing on comfort and entertainment. Nursing homes offer advanced care and continuous monitoring for seniors with high-demand conditions. Seniors in nursing homes typically suffer from severe, chronic illness or disability. Nursing homes offer the care needed to deal with severe cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Below are some fundamental characteristics of a nursing home:
- Round-The-Clock Care: A major benefit to a nursing home is the 24/7 supervision and care provided by nursing staff and personal care attendants. Residents are literally never alone, ensuring they can’t wander off or hurt themselves. Nurses and doctors are also available to treat any emergencies that may arise.
- Intensive Care: Nursing homes usually employ a large staff of attendants, nurses, and doctors. Many even offer their own memory-care specialists, meaning more intense treatment options available. Memory care services are accessible several times a week in assisted living; seniors can receive services daily in a nursing home.
- More Options for Payment: Nursing homes are actually more expensive than assisting living communities. However, nursing home patients are eligible for a slew of government benefits (ex. Medicaid and veteran’s benefits) that do not apply to assisted living. With assisted living and in-home care, seniors and their families are responsible for most of the cost.
- Enhanced Treatment: Attendants and nurses are trained in techniques needed to treat memory disorders. This can include anything from problem-saving games to challenging cognitive skills. The staff understands how to provide what is needed to stimulate memory without leaving seniors feeling completely exhausted.
- Recreational Choices: Similar to assisted living, nursing homes offer a schedule of physical and social activities. Unlike assisted living, these activities are less intense and less frequent. Many seniors in nursing homes are only able to handle easy-going activities.
There are so many senior care services on the market; it can hard to decide what is best. If you are having trouble navigating your care options, consider consulting with a senior living adviser or senior social worker. These professionals help navigate senior care options to choose a program that can accommodate personal needs and preferences. No matter which services you choose, take comfort knowing you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.
About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.