Memory care is specifically designed to help those with memory issues (due to a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia, or for another reason) maintain a high quality of life. To learn more about how memory care does that, read on!
Though you’ve probably heard the term “memory care,” you may not be aware of how it’s different from other forms of care that the elderly receive. Some people mistakenly think memory care is the same as being in an assisted living or retirement facility, but there are some key differences to note.
Here are some of the similarities between memory care and assisted living:
However, memory care facilities offer these added amenities:
In any situation, knowing what to expect is half the battle. Everything – from how mealtimes are handled to the facility, to (sometimes) the architecture itself – is designed to provide compassionate and individualized care for people with memory issues.
Because memory problems often translate to an increase in wandering and disorientation, memory care facilities are equipped with security doors and gates. Many feature enclosed yards with locked gates as well so that those under care can enjoy some sunshine without the risk of wandering off the property.
The way the rooms are set up is unique as well. Some facilities include “memory boxes” in every room that the resident can fill with essential memories, so the resident will know which room is theirs. Others simply use a placard on every door with the person’s name. Many focus on decreasing the overstimulation of residents with dementia by using neutral colors and minimizing lights and sounds. Some of these precautions have been scientifically proven to reduce agitation in dementia patients.
More care is taken during mealtimes for memory residents as well. Assisted living facilities post mealtimes, but the onus is on the resident to ensure they eat. In memory care facilities, the staff ensures that residents are eating at mealtimes. For safety reasons, the kitchen is inaccessible to patients, but the staff brings residents to meals. Residents are escorted by staff to activities and brought beverages and snacks.
Are you wondering what to look for in a good memory care facility? Great – the following tips will help you find a fantastic memory care facility for your loved one.
When you’ve weighed your options and narrowed them down a bit, you should visit each facility on your list multiple times. For the most part, you can announce your intent to visit. That said, plan to visit each facility at least once at night, when they’ll be shorter-staffed. This will give you a well-rounded view of how the memory care facility operates.
The memory care facility should be clean and have a setup with minimal dead-ends. Doors and rooms should be labeled, and, if possible, there should be an enclosed area outdoors with room for residents to walk. Generally, residents should seem happy to be in a pleasant environment with minimal stress.
Staffing was a problem before the pandemic, but it’s been heightened post-COVID. Observe how the staff interacts with residents, and how quickly their needs are met. Ask about training and if there’s a nurse in the building. Since staff members will be spending much of the time with your loved ones, it’s imperative that they foster positive social interactions.
Another great question to ask is how they handle aggressive residents. Antipsychotic medications should be a last resort.
The pandemic caused an increase in mental health problems, especially among those with dementia. Ask what rules will go into effect if there’s another health outbreak: will visitation be allowed? How will communication take place between families and staff? How are residents quarantined?
Do they offer fun activities that your loved one would enjoy? What tactics does the staff use to get residents to eat? Take time to try the food and participate in one activity. Physical and mobility exercises are important factors that affect the quality of life. Take a look at how the staff members interact with the residents.
If your loved one’s health gets worse, will the facility be able to continue caring for them? See if another level of care is available and learn how much it would cost to move them there. Ask about what behaviors or health conditions would require them to move up to the next level of care. Take time to ask about what insurance the facility accepts as well.
At Medilodge, we are equipped to help your loved one, whether they’re suffering from mild cognitive impairment or more severe memory loss. We provide compassionate memory care through our memory care program, allowing residents to express themselves creatively in a safe environment.
We are so passionate about ensuring your loved ones get the care they need that we even created a special flyer to educate first responders on the needs of dementia patients. If you’d like to know more about our memory support programs, get in touch with your nearest Medilodge community. We look forward to hearing from you.
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