Memory care is a great option for the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
It might sound like a difficult and costly option to take. But sometimes, the best decision we can make for our aging parents is to let experts care for them.
So today, I’ll be sharing some practical tips about memory care and how you could choose the right one.
Memory care is also known as Alzheimer’s care. This form of assisted living provides housing and 24-hour access to professional caregivers specializing in dementia care.
Memory care facilities are uniquely designed to adapt to the needs of memory care patients.
The goal of memory care units includes supporting seniors’ unique needs. Since most of them have memory issues, these facilities provide enriching activities that stimulate cognition.
The staff designs safe, structured environments with routines to keep the stress levels manageable.
It’s also common for memory care facility employees to assist residents with personal care tasks.
They have specialized training to handle special issues that arise with patients dealing with dementia
Memory care facilities also have a lower staff-to-resident ratio compared to other assisted living arrangements.
This makes it a great option for those who are in the advanced stages of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia cases are among the most difficult to deal with in senior care.
Symptoms worsen over time, and it can be straining for the caregiver and the families. As the disease progresses, living alone can be dangerous for our loved ones.
Here are a few benefits of memory care centers for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A huge part of taking care of a patient with memory loss involves setting routines.
Most patients can feel lost and confused. Basic functions can suddenly become overwhelming. Something simple like putting on clothes or cooking a simple dish can be a difficult task.
The brain doesn’t work as it used to. And this can be frustrating for seniors, causing their temperaments to change drastically.
And in extreme cases, it can also cause accidents that can be dangerous to our parents living independently.
Memory care facilities can help provide a safe and comforting environment for patients. These places are designed to reduce confusion and disorientation.
Some facilities are designed like small communities with personalized living spaces.
Part of the design includes locked exterior doors to prevent the patient from wandering. Some include features like enclosed gardens and courtyards. This way, residents can roam freely without the fear of being hurt or lost.
Some places are also designed to have reduced noise to promote calmness and familiarity among their residents.
Professionally trained staff are also encouraged to engage with the residents to help maintain their social skills.
Most of them are trained to manage difficult symptoms like temper tantrums using specific dementia care techniques.
Memory care facilities also coordinate with other healthcare workers that cater to specific conditions or chronic illnesses.
These may include assistance for residents recovering from injuries, transportation arrangements for medical appointments, and medication management.
Most places also provide rehabilitation services like speech, occupational, and physical therapy for those who need it.
There are memory care facilities that focus on person-centered care, especially for dementia patients.
This approach involves getting to know more about the patient by collecting their personal stories and memories.
Caregivers often learn about how the patient lived. They ask about childhood memories and hobbies they enjoyed when they were younger.
They also learn about the patient’s personal preferences, from likes and dislikes to favorites and pet peeves.
As a family member, your role would be to share these things to help the staff highlight your loved one’s favorites and achievements.
This will help the staff encourage your aging loved ones to create a daily routine based on their preferences.
Memory care facilities that offer person-centered care also offer activities based on their interests and level of ability.
Friendships within the community are also encouraged to prevent the patient from feeling isolated or alone.
The goal is for our aging parents to still find a sense of dignity and purpose despite their circumstances.
And memory care facilities can help them achieve that.
Learn more about person-care communities here.
Dementia patients are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety. They also are more prone to falls and communication disorders.
Because of this, memory care facilities design programs that increase engagement for our aging loved ones.
The staff carefully plans and facilitates activities that encourage cognitive and occupational skills. Most of these activities are led by a trained therapist and address the unique needs of each person.
These tasks need not be complicated.
It can be as simple as taking a walk to stimulate the senses. Or cooking together as a group to encourage fine and gross motor skills.
Some tasks can include looking at photos or listening to music to encourage them to tell stories or trigger memories of the past.
Some centers use pet therapy or have a resident pet to provide comfort or companionship.
And some also include alternatives like aromatherapy to evoke memories or promote calmness in the residents.
This can be a sensitive yet necessary topic to discuss, especially if you’re a family member taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
But for you to provide the best care, it’s necessary to know the signs to help you make the best decisions.
So how do you know if your aging parents need memory care? Here are some of the symptoms they may exhibit.
It’s best to start discussing your options once a diagnosis has been given. As a degenerative disease, there will come a time when the symptoms get worse.
So you should start looking for a place that your loved ones would be comfortable with.
The goal is for our aging parents to live independently at home for as long as possible. But it’s also good to work on the transition before it becomes necessary.
Having enough time to transition helps your loved ones be more involved in their future. It helps them adjust better and form deeper relationships with the community inside the memory care facility.
It also gives you a chance to be more at ease knowing your loved ones are getting the best care they deserve.
A person’s health suffers greatly once the symptoms of dementia set in.
Simple tasks like food preparations, taking medications, or eating may be overwhelming.
Some patients lose track of time. This disrupts their sleep schedules resulting in insomnia and other sleep disorders.
They may also suffer from rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, and neglect of personal hygiene.
Seniors who suffer from dementia-related illnesses may be more susceptible to scams and violent crimes due to their condition.
Did you notice a drastic change in their temperament, as if they were a completely different person?
This is quite normal for people suffering from dementia.
Some may act more sensitive and dramatic than usual. Others tend to be more violent and resort to hitting or tantrums.
Others may suddenly be more withdrawn or reserved.
These rapid behavioral changes may be a sign of internal struggles, agitation, and confusion.
It might not be a huge red flag for some, but it’s something you need to take a closer look into.
This may also be a warning sign for you to take your loved ones and have them checked.
Seniors who are suffering from greater cognitive decline may require more care and attention.
And it can take a toll on the person taking care of them.
At times an elderly’s caregiver is a partner who is also aging. And when the main caregiver’s health falters or passes away, it might be the best option to go for memory care facilities instead.
For caregivers belonging to the sandwich generation, it can also be difficult to have a sense of balance.
Raising a family and taking care of an ill parent can take its toll. When it comes to a point when you need to decide between your sanity and taking care of the elderly, it’s OK to choose yourself first.
There’s no shame in admitting you need help.
Read more about why caregivers need self-care too.
Now here’s a common question: can I afford memory care?
A 2018 survey said assisted living costs an average of $4000 a month. And memory care adds another $1000 to the bill.
It can be an expensive option, but it also assures you that your aging parents are getting the best care possible.
Medicare and Medicaid don’t usually cover the costs of memory care. But there are programs for patients with memory impairments that you might want to take advantage of.
Seniors with long-term care insurance policies can also help in covering the expenses. But it’s also important to check the details for inclusions.
Some homeowners also have the option of reverse mortgages. This can be beneficial for seniors who own homes and are transitioning to residential care.
Check out more tips on how to manage costs for Alzheimer’s care here.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and worried when it’s time to choose a memory care facility.
So here are some of the best tips to remember when choosing the right one for your aging parents.
Ask about the security measures in place. Check out the entrance and exist, as well as other places that your loved ones will spend time in.
See if there are any emergency alert systems in place in case of falls or accidents. How easy is it for the seniors to access them?
Check if the places and spaces are wide enough for mobility devices to pass through.
Ask about emergency protocols and how fast they are able to respond. It’s also important to note how good their communications are to the family especially if anything happens to the patient.
Ask about the types of training the staff received. It’s also important to know the staff to resident ratio during the day and night.
Ask how the staff handles complicated situations with patients. Ask them how they help when a dementia patient is in distress.
It also helps to check certifications and the longevity of the staff working there.
Pay close attention to the questions they ask you during interviews. Are they genuinely interested in helping you take care of your loved ones?
If possible, ask other families about their experience with the facility. Read reviews online and check for red flags like reports of abuse or neglect.
Prioritize memory care facilities that offer person-centered care.
The goal is for your loved ones to spend their days in peace and comfort with dignity. And it will help if they are in an environment that lets them do just that.
Ask how often they change their care plans and what individualized options they offer to patients.
You can also ask if they consider the resident’s levels of cognition in planning activities and programs. See how they respond to the demands of the illness as it progresses.
Your loved one’s preferences should be your priority. After all, they will be the ones to experience living in the facility.
Make sure to hear their thoughts and what they want to experience.
And if you’re having a hard time deciding, you can always ask for an advocate to help you.
Taking care of an elderly with Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illness can be draining as it progresses.
And sometimes it’s better to let experts do the work.
Memory care may be an expensive option. But with the right one, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re providing the best care your aging parents deserve.
That’s all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!