Memory Care: Where to Start?
Why should anyone consider memory care? Although many experience memory problems, some seniors experience significant cognitive decline and require extra care. Experiencing memory loss is hard on everyone but there are a number of options. Increasingly, senior care communities are being redesigned to accommodate memory-related illnesses to give seniors the comfort and care they need. Memory care refers to care specifically for assistance with severe memory loss. These facilities cater to special needs by providing easy-to-navigate design, positive lighting, and memory enhancing activities.
According to the National Institute of Aging, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the majority cases of cognitive decline among seniors. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in America and the third cause among seniors. The stages of memory loss are not the same for everyone. Memory care staff are training in techniques and approaches that are designed to suppress memory loss, increase memory retention, and restore lost memories while accommodating personal needs. A memory care facility will have the right staff, with the proper training, and an environment designed to help with cognitive decline.
Why Memory Care?
Options for memory care come in many forms, from in-home services to dedicated homes in a senior community. Making the decision depends on what your loved one needs. In-home care is often an ideal choice for independent seniors with minor memory loss. These services can range from companionship or housekeeping services to personal care assistance and skilled nursing care. Those with significant cognitive decline would likely benefit from residential memory care.
The stress, confusion, and general disorientation brought on by dementia is often decreased in settings with natural lighting, comfortable amenities, and simple designs.
- Round floor plans for easy navigation
- Reliable security that allows for safe wandering
- Private rooms with a memory box or wall to help trigger/maintain memories
- Staff and therapists offer activities that focus on memory recovery and preservation
- Personalized diets with rooms with continuous care and support.
Memory care appears to be growing in popularity. Increasingly, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are featuring memory care units to accommodate their needs. Residential care doesn’t only mean security; memory care introduces seniors to programs that help them reconnect to memories, hobbies, and preferences.
Where to Start?
Begin by discussing a plan with a preferred doctor. If cognitive decline is mild and slow in progression, assisted living is an option. Seniors needing daily assistance with common tasks may benefit from more intensive care, such as a nursing home.
Seniors predominantly suffering from memory loss would benefit most from memory care. Discuss these options with the doctor to know which is the ideal choice; then it’s time to research and implement the plan. Consider every aspect of comfortable living for your loved one:
- Concentrate on immediate needs. The level of assistance needed helps you determine what services are needed.
- Remember both wants and needs, including: hobbies, social preferences, physical activity, scenic preferences, dietary requirements, religious preferences, etc.
- Prioritize necessities such as transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping, medication management, and personal hygiene.
- Consider any physical requirements. Some may need a room near elevator or large hallways for easy wheelchair use. Others may need specific physical therapies.
- Pay attention to their personality. Try finding communities whose design and atmosphere reflect your loved one’s personality and preference.
- Choose something that works for everyone. Regardless of circumstances, taking care of a loved one is often a group effort. Considering family and friends help create a network of care and support.
Once you have an idea of what they need, begin researching different communities. The community resource finder from the Alzheimer’s Association is a useful tool when researching and learning about local assisted living communities that support memory care.
Read as many reviews as possible while narrowing down to a select few. Schedule a tour for each community, preferably during an activity or meal. Each tour should give you an idea of daily living. Take the opportunity to ask questions and learn everything you or your loved one needs to know.
If your loved one has already moved into a nursing home or other senior care facility, inquire about any programs that may help. Recently, more facilities have been introducing memory care programs on premise. Seniors already in residential care can be eased into memory care, sometimes while staying in their current facility. It’s important to recognize that the average cost of memory care is typically higher that an assisted living facility due to increased security and the individualized care.
Memory care seems like a new concept because, in the scale of history, it is. Awareness and advancements in memory care are mounting in order to meet the needs of a growing senior population. As Alzheimer’s and dementia become more prevalent, these communities are designed to help. Many facilities offer services to that help the transition, every step of the way.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material found on this website is intended to promote and encourage consumer understanding and should not be considered alternative or supplementary medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health or physical condition, seek the advice of a licensed qualified healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss any changes or concerns with your doctor before beginning a new healthcare regimen, undergoing any procedures, or changing current healthcare plans. Seniors and Health does not claim medical representation and assumes no responsibility in the accuracy of the information available on this website.
About the Author: John Winfrey Jr. received his Bachelor’s in 2015 from the University of North Texas after spending much of his 20’s traveling across the country. Majoring in Marketing and minoring in Journalism gave him the experience needed to write and research important topics like senior health. Senior health especially hits home as his veteran father was a senior who eventually became deaf and blind. John had to become as familiar as he could, quickly, to provide support for his father.