You may be seeking assisted living care for your parent or loved one, but what you might actually need to be looking for is a memory care facility. Memory care is distinctly different from a straightforward assisted living facility. Memory care is a form of long-term and skilled nursing that caters to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other memory problems. These units provide 24-hour supervised care. If your loved one suffers from a memory problem, there are certain signs to look for.
Your loved one may already be diagnosed with memory loss and is able to live quite independently or with family. However, with memory loss, there may come a time when additional care is required for them. This disease tends to get worse as it progresses. Depending on one’s ability to function, the level of supervision and care varies. Assisted living facilities are an option for mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Assisted Living Facilities
These tend to be where individuals live in a shared apartment, private apartment, or studio with 24/7 staff care available. The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as “a long-term care option that combines housing, support services, and healthcare, as needed.” Assisted living can include personal care services like medication management, transportation. Social activities are often included in assisted living facilities so that seniors can form friendships and support from one another. Those who are independent yet need some assistance with everyday tasks such as light house cleaning, bathing, dressing, or mobility thrive in assisted living because it provides the right level of care needed.
This type of care is not the same as a nursing home. The best way to determine which option is better for you or your loved one can be determined by an advisor or medical professional. There are some serious differences between an assisted living facility and a nursing home. For example, those in assisted living are mobile, whereas those in nursing homes tend to be bedridden. Also, nursing homes require medical staff to provide ongoing attention and care on a daily basis. Assisted living residents do not need this level of medical attention. A Place for Mom advises, “If Alzheimer’s or dementia is not an immediate concern, and your loved one is still relatively independent, assisted living may be an excellent choice.”
Memory Care Units
Memory care units are specially designed for those who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another memory care issues. They can be stand-alone residences or be a part of an assisted living facility. Some nursing homes or assisted living places have a wing dedicated to memory care. The staff in these units are specially trained to care for the specific needs and demands of memory care patients. Dementia Care Central elaborates, “Memory care units offer the same services as do assisted living facilities, in addition to activities that are intended to stimulate the memory of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia's and possibly slow the progression of the disease.”
Safety is also a priority for those with memory problems. By being under close surveillance, patients are less likely to harm themselves unintentionally. Safety checks are done more often to ensure the safety of patients. One of the goals of memory care is to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia by providing programs that cultivate cognitive skills. Activities may include music, art, or games. By having these programs available, seniors can continue to enjoy life and socialize with others who are going through similar circumstances. Good memory care facilities engage their residents and promote physical and mental well-being and don’t rely on medication only.
Memory care facilities tend to hold a more rigid daily schedule. This is intentional because those that are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia tend to get easily stressed or irritated because of unfamiliar environments. With a daily routine, patients can flow from one activity to the next.
The Physical Layout of Memory Care Units
When it comes to memory care units, they are typically architecturally designed to accommodate patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. One example is that memory care facilities do not have individual kitchens in the patients’ rooms. A significant side effect of memory loss is wandering away. Memory care units are highly secure so that if wandering occurs, the patient will not be able to leave the unit. There tends to be a calming environment in memory care facilities in order to make sure that the patients do not become stressed or confused. This can be achieved by painting the walls bright colors, having natural light, and creating a common room where residents can watch television or socialize.
When is Memory Care the Right Option?
Often, moving a loved one into memory care can trigger feelings of guilt or sadness. This is perfectly normal. It is a difficult decision to make. If you are still on the fence on whether or not to send your loved one to a memory care facility, check out these questions below.
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests these questions to help you decide whether it’s time to consider an assisted living memory care community for your loved one:
- Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in his or her current home?
- Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?
- Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical abilities?
- Am I becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?
- Am I neglecting work responsibilities, my family and myself?
- Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit the person with dementia?
When care giving becomes too much for one person to do, memory care can be a relief. With memory care, you can be assured that your loved one is taken care of and their specific needs are being met. The people who will be taking care of your loved one are trained professionals. They know how to provide individualized care. Ultimately, the best you can do for your loved one is to make sure they get the best care possible.