While the assisted living concept itself grows in popularity in the United States and elsewhere, more specialized types of care are also emerging. Memory care-assisted living, which is sometimes called Dementia care-assisted living, is one of these specialties that is ideal for those with cognitive impairment.
Seniors who are beginning to have challenges with memory and overall awareness will need a style of care that keeps them safe while still allowing them all the freedom possible. A general assisted living community may not have staff with the necessary training or have precautionary measures in place for these residents, so choosing the right home is even more important.
What is memory care-assisted living?
Memory care-assisted living is specifically designed for residents who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It’s estimated that there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, including approximately one in eight senior citizens.
When a senior begins to display behaviors that go beyond normal forgetfulness, it can be beneficial for them to live in an environment where they have help with tasks such as taking medication, and where they are protected from getting into harmful situations. Memory care- assisted living is designed to effectively meet the needs of residents who require more than the standard help that assisted living communities typically provide.
When is it time for memory care-assisted living?
It’s true that forgetting small details or even names is a normal part of aging for all of us, but sadly, millions of seniors advance to Alzheimer’s or related forms of dementia and this can create unique challenges. Whether they are currently living at home, or are already in an assisted living community, there may come a time when special attention is needed for their continued health and safety.
Often there is a single event that triggers this concern, though it could also be a combination of small things that make one realize that the current care situation is inadequate.
- Has the loved one gotten lost and then unable to remember their own details needed outside help to home?
- Have they created a dangerous situation such as leaving the front door open or forgetting to turn a stove off?
- Have they forgotten to take important medications on a timely basis?
- An unwarranted sense of suspicion, or feeling threatened, when no real threat exists, are common signs of early dementia.
- Are you confident that in an emergency such as a fire, earthquake or flood, your loved-one would be able to get to safety?
- Are your loved one’s memory issues making you feel that you are no longer able to provide adequate care on your own?
The decision to move to a memory care community can be a difficult and sometimes frightening one. However, transitioning into a good quality memory care community can often improve one’s physical and emotional well-being.
Often times an individual living at home, who is suffering from memory-related issues, will become isolated due to fear, embarrassment or an inability to communicate their needs. Whereas, transitioning into a memory care community can offer social engagement and the help needed in an accepting and safe environment.
What a Memory Care Community Provides
Some senior communities are completely dedicated to a specialized memory care program, while others have a dedicated wing or larger living area that is separate from the rest of the assisted living or independent living community. In addition to providing nutritious meals, housekeeping, utilities, activities and transportation that an assisted living community will offer, memory care communities provide:
– Personal Assistance
The most important distinction between the two living options for some people is the need for more personalized assistance with the daily routine than assisted living models offer: dressing, bathing, assistance with meals, verbal reminders, help with walking and transfers, safety checks and medication monitoring.
– Secure areas
Residents with memory challenges have as much freedom of movement as
possible, but within a secured setting. Additionally, the staff is specially trained to work with residents who might be impulsive or display other challenging behaviors.
– Assistance with medication
Keeping up with the recommended schedule of medications can be difficult for anyone, but for memory care residents it’s even more critical. Medication management programs vary from one community to another. Usually a licensed nurse or pharmacist on staff communicates with the resident’s physician, dispenses and monitors prescription medications.
– Specialized activity programs
While issues of cognitive impairment are often not curable, there is much research showing that the progression of symptoms can be slowed significantly when the right programs are offered. Specialized activity programs may include physical therapy, reminiscence therapy, expressive art therapy and sensory stimulation. A comprehensive program should cater the abilities and goals of the individual.
Finding a memory care- assisted living community
People with dementia have varied needs. Individually tailored care is essential. A written care plan with individual interests, abilities and care goals is important. Family members can and should be involved in the design of their loved-one’s plan.
Questions to ask when choosing the right community
- What is the community’s philosophy of care for memory impaired residents?
- How are goals communicated to staff?
- Is the community’s management committed to maintaining a memory care program?
- Is the staff adequately trained?
- What are the resident’s rights?
- Is there a written statement of these rights?
- Are there additional costs for incontinence care and medications management? If so, what are those costs?
- What is the staff to resident ratio?
- Is there a physician or licensed nurse available or on call?
- How often is a resident’s Private Care Physician involved in decisions regarding care, medications?
- How are medications monitored and dispensed?
In addition to the questions listed above, you will find our SearchSeniorLiving community check list, to be a useful guide when touring a community.
Please visit our home page to search for a memory care community that meets your family’s specific needs or call 877-243-8073.