What to look for in a memory care facility
Memory care facilities have been developed to meet the needs of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Memory care communities offer adapted housing and targeted healthcare, as well as 24/7 supervision, in order to eliminate the risk of wandering and injuries. In most cases, the family members are usually the ones to recommend a memory care home, acknowledging the changes in their loved ones. Within a memory care community, seniors who suffer from cognitive decline can live a satisfying life, with focus on their remaining capabilities.
What is a memory care facility?
A memory care facility represents a long-term care option for seniors who suffer from cognitive decline, speech impairment, and other manifestations associated with different forms of dementia. Memory care communities welcome seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but also with frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, Lewy Body disease, and so on. They might also accept seniors who experience similar symptoms as a result of other conditions. Aside from the adapted living environment, seniors benefit from a wide range of services and amenities. The access to the necessary healthcare is included, as well as around-the-clock monitoring. The layout of the memory care facility is structured in such a manner so as to prevent wandering and eliminate the risk of injuries.
Signs of dementia
Family members are usually the first ones to notice that something is wrong, taking stock of the worrying changes. Seniors might begin showing signs of memory loss, gradually evolving, so that the daily living is disrupted. They might forget information that has been recently learned, as well as important dates or events. Others will have difficulty remembering the names of their loved ones, asking the same question over and over again, needing reassurance. It might be possible for them to rely on notes to remember certain pieces of information, increasingly relying on family members to handle tasks they would have had no problems handling on their own.
Living alone might become difficult, given that many adults with dementia struggle to make plans or solve problems. Cooking can become dangerous, as seniors might no longer be able to remember that they left a pot on the stove. Concentration difficulties might occur, with every task taking twice as long. Keeping track of their finances can become impossible, with monthly bills falling behind. Familiar tasks can be hard to complete, with these changes being easily noticeable. For instance, one might have difficulties reaching an otherwise familiar location. They might not be able to handle grocery shopping or remember something that has to be done. Many dangers can arise from their inability to handle familiar tasks, both inside and outside the home.
Confusion represents one of the worrying signs of dementia and one that can present the highest number of risks whereas the resident's safety is concerned. It is worth remembering that seniors dealing with dementia can be confused about the passing of time, but also about the location in itself. They might have difficulty remembering where they are, having lost track of the time. At the same time, they will not know how they go to the respective place. Unfortunately, dementia will also affect their vision and the ability to understand distances. Balance issues can occur, as well as reading impairment. Due to their inability to perceive spatial relationships, driving might become dangerous.
Communication difficulties are often encountered in those who suffer from dementia. Some seniors might have trouble keeping track of everything said, avoiding the conversation altogether. Upon joining the conversation, they might stop right in the middle, as if they are lost and do not know how to continue. Others might repeat themselves, asking questions over and over again. Their vocabulary might diminish significantly, until they will have problems naming familiar objects. In some situations, they might end up describing the object, rather than naming it altogether.
As their cognitive capacity suffers, they might misplace various objects, without being able to remember their location. As they will also lose their ability to retrace their steps, they might end up accusing others of misplacing the respective objects, or even stealing. The more dementia progresses, the more acute these changes will become. They might deal with changes in the decision-making abilities. Unfortunately, the poor judgment can put them in danger, not to mention it might lead to further complications, such as the inadequate hygiene.
Due to all the changes experienced, a senior living with dementia might become withdrawn, avoiding social activities. Hobbies might be forgotten, while engagements might feel like they are too much. This is also because many seniors experience changes in their mood and personality, feeling either confused, anxious, or depressed. They might also become suspicious or fearful, refusing to be taken out of their comfort zone. Upon being pushed to try various activities or interact with others, they may be easily upset.
When should someone with dementia go into memory care?
As you have seen above, dementia can lead to a number of worrying changes, many of which will make living alone difficult and dangerous. A senior who suffers from memory loss, cognitive decline, and speech impairment might have trouble handling even the simplest of tasks, often putting himself/herself at risk. There are numerous reports of seniors having left their home on their own, feeling confused, without ever having been found. Others might start cooking and forget the food on the stove, with a fire ensuing as a result. There are numerous risks for seniors with dementia who live alone. Outside the home, the risks are just as many, especially for seniors who continue to drive.
In truth, it can be difficult to decide when it is the right time for your loved one to go into memory care. However, you have to look at the bigger picture, and acknowledge the obvious benefits of this tough decision. If you have noticed a severe change in behavior, with anxiety and a permanent state of irritation, you might start to consider memory care. The same goes for seniors who are unable to handle familiar tasks or keep themselves clean. If memory loss is present, then you will have to think about the risks involved. Many family members consider memory care upon noticing that their loved one has become withdrawn, avoiding social activities. They realize the advantage of a community, especially one in which people are dealing with the same problems.
The inability to maintain a healthy living environment might be another sign that it's time for a change. More often than not, seniors become unable to handle common chores. Family members might notice spoiled food lying around, the trash not taken out, or dirty dishes piled up in the sink. The failure to keep track of the bills to be paid is another indication that something is wrong. Naturally, it might become obvious that one suffers from disorientation and confusion, both changes making daily living quite difficult. Seniors with dementia present what is known as a fragile mental state, being prone to accidents. Memory loss can put them in danger, especially if they handle activities such as cooking or driving.
In most cases, family members are the ones to assume the caregiver role, dealing with burnout and various associated health issues. It can be overwhelming to look after someone with dementia, especially in the late stage of the disease. Unfortunately, dementia seniors might exhibit uncontrollable behaviors, becoming aggressive. Should it become too difficult or even too dangerous to look after your loved one, you will have to consider memory care. The same goes for seniors who are dealing with incontinence. Within a memory care community, there will be specialized personnel to handle such issues, so as to avoid further health complications.
Dementia is associated with balance issues, which increase the risk of falling and subsequent fractures. Moreover, many seniors are also dealing with confusion, presenting an obvious risk of wandering. Instead of worrying about their safety, it might be for the best to choose a memory care facility, as this structured environment is the best way to ensure their safety. As a caregiver, you have to follow your instinct and decide on the right time to take such an important decision. Think about the obvious need for care and safety, not to mention what your loved one would have wanted. Memory care represents the best possible option, for both the person suffering from dementia and the family members acting as caregivers.
Difference between memory care and dementia care
What is the difference between memory care and dementia care? Well, even though the foundation of care is the same, the specifics of what is offered can differ quite a lot. Think of memory care as the first step in handling a senior diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It might represent a suitable option in the early stage of dementia, whereas the latter will focus on seniors with more advanced or late stage of the same condition. As a result, the level of care offered will differ as well.
Specialists in the field also advise family members to choose memory care as soon as they have noticed specific changes in their loved ones. This is because early intervention can delay the need for dementia care. On the other hand, if no measures are taken, the condition will continue to progress at a rapid pace, influencing the overall quality of life in a negative manner. Memory care represents one of the best options of managing dementia and other similar conditions early on, so that the seniors in question can enjoy independent living for as long as possible. Dementia care, on the other hand, will offer a more comprehensive medical care plan, with the staff taking whatever measures are necessary to address specific concerns. Within dementia care communities, you will often find seniors dealing with advanced dementia, with manifestations that clearly interfere with their daily life.
As you might discover, dementia care is recommended for seniors with aggressive forms of dementia, with manifestations that have progressed up to the point that outside intervention is required. The basic idea is for seniors to benefit from maintenance treatment, which should minimize their symptoms and help them enjoy the best possible quality of life. Memory care, by contrast, might be offered within assisted living communities, with the seniors still enjoying a certain level of independence. Dementia care resembles the environment of a nursing home, having a more clinical nature. The decision to transition from memory to dementia care should regard not only the symptoms that interfere with daily living, but also the obvious medical needs and potential risks. Seniors with advanced dementia will require a specific treatment plan and more support with everyday living, in comparison to those who are in the early stages.
What people should look for when choosing a memory care center
Finding a suitable memory care center is not difficult, but it will involve a thorough research process. Many seniors are interested in finding a community that is close to their loved ones, but the budget might direct them towards facilities that are far away. The good news is that most communities of this kind allow prospective residents to visit their premises and thus form an opinion about the care provided.
Family members are often the ones assuming the decision-making process, so it makes sense for them to prioritize the needs of their loved ones. One should choose a community where seniors receive help with the activities of daily living, including dressing, eating, or bathing. Inquire about the assistance provided, not only during the day, but also at night. Also, make sure to check what kind of medication management is provided. How are health needs monitored? Some seniors might need treatment administered, including shots, for diabetes or other chronic conditions. Memory care communities often have trained nurses which offer such services.
Naturally, you will want to choose a memory care facility that offers 24/7 supervision. This is because dementia seniors are often prone to wandering, with a high risk of injuries. They might attempt to leave the premises on their own, getting lost. Others might deal with mobility issues, requiring help in standing, walking, or performing transfers. Of course, they are highly likely to need assistance for using the bathroom. More specific needs might be present, such as dialysis or colostomy care. It is essential to make sure that all of these challenges can be dealt with, preferably by personnel who has been trained to work with such seniors.
Another important aspect to consider regards the available safety features. Given that seniors with dementia are prone to wandering and getting lost, you will want to choose a memory care community that keeps them safe. Some of the safety features to be on the lookout for include: security cameras, keyed entries and elevators, color-coded hallways, alarms for open doors, 24-hour supervised care, etc. You might also pay attention to the services and amenities offered, as well as the meal plans. The goal should be for your loved one to enjoy the best possible quality of life, with a satisfying daily routine.
As dementia care can be a complicated matter, you might want to ask the staff about their approach. The way they handle difficult behaviors is especially important, as dementia seniors might often oppose care, showing either anger or aggression. If the quality of the care matches the needs of the residents, then it is highly likely that these behaviors will subside over time. However, they should have a protocol in place for difficult situations, including with regard to prevention. The staff should benefit from regular trainings, so as to help seniors with dementia thrive and enjoy their day, as much as it is possible.
This might be a given, but you will have to ask about the accreditation of the respective facility and whether the staff members are certified dementia care managers. The community in question should offer person-centered dementia care, taking into account not only the care needs of the seniors, but also their medical history, abilities, and personal preferences. All residents should benefit from what is known as a personalized intervention plan, which is updated every couple of months. Each resident should be supervised by a multidisciplinary team, with each member taking his/her time to develop a relationship with seniors, as well as their loved ones. Be sure to ask about memory-enhancing therapies and daily activities, making sure that seniors receive the best possible help. The daily routine should give them purpose, not to mention the pleasure of living. Last, but not least, you should make an effort to choose a memory care facility that fits your budget, without sacrificing all the things that are important in terms of care.
What type of living units are available?
Depending on the facility, seniors might have access to private and semi-private rooms. The choice depends on the personal preference and the available budget, as private rooms tend to be more expensive. In most cases, residents might prefer a private room, especially as their condition progresses. They will feel better having a place of quiet, and this might even help with their aggressive tendencies. On the other hand, should cost be an issue or the resident have more social tendencies, then a semi-private room is perfectly fine. It is important to remember that people have different temperaments and social tendencies; the initial assessment serves, among other things, to finding the best living arrangement for the senior in question. The semi-private rooms have the advantage of being more affordable, not to mention the socialization opportunity.
Types of activities offered to residents
Seniors with dementia need a stimulating daily routine, one which helps them stay engaged and offers the added benefit of socialization. Memory care communities offer a wide range of activities, all of which are planned and facilitated in accordance with the current state of health. Some seniors might be able to participate to various activities without assistance, others might have to be led by a staff member or even be assisted to complete the respective activity. However, a stimulating daily routine has been known to help with dementia manifestations, not to mention it gives a sense of purpose, increasing the senior's self-esteem. All in all, we are talking about a higher quality of life.
Dementia seniors have access to activities that target physical health, such as exercise routines, yoga, or water therapy. They might be able to take walks within the campus or try gardening, enjoying the fresh air. Other activities are meant to help with the cognitive function and fine motor skills, such as playing cards or sorting various objects. Some communities offer painting, music, or cooking classes, opting for sensory experiences that are quite stimulating. Memory is stimulated through specific games, but also with the help of photo recall. Seniors are encouraged to read and watch movies, as well as listen to music. It is important to understand that most activities are available as a group, but there are plenty of choices available for those who prefer solitude.
A safe and secure environment
Memory care communities represent the best choice for a senior dealing with dementia, as they offer a safe and secure environment. This is not only related to the actual building and its outdoor spaces, which features numerous safety elements, but also to the around-the-clock supervision and dedicated care. Residents are treated with kindness and respect, being seen beyond their diagnosis. Trained staff help them enjoy a satisfying daily routine, with focus on their abilities. At the same time, they benefit from empathy, which makes them feel supported and safe.
Dementia is an unfortunate condition, especially since a cure is yet to be discovered. Seniors diagnosed with this condition can thrive within the right memory care facility, with trained staff catering to their needs and helping them overcome the challenges brought on by dementia. For more advanced cases, dementia care is better suited. In choosing a memory care center, you should make sure that the respective facility meets the needs of your loved one, both in terms of care and support. If possible, visit several memory care facilities and ask questions about the available services, taking a final decision only after a careful consideration. The important thing is that your loved one feels safe and secure, thriving in all possible aspects.
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