For some, forgetfulness and confusion might be a normal part of the aging process. But for many, debilitating memory loss can be a devastating condition that affects the entire family. Memory care facilities are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with a cognitive diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
A memory care facility provides a safe and secure community where they can live comfortably while battling the symptoms of their disease. The familiarity and home-like atmosphere of these types of senior living facilities contribute to the resident’s feelings of acceptance, well-being, and purpose.
Unfortunately, some do a good job, others don’t! Don’t be fooled by a pretty facility.
That’s why we offer our free service to help navigate.
What Makes Memory Care Different?
Memory care is a unique subset of assisted senior living and skilled nursing. These facilities are specifically designed to meet the social, medical, and safety needs of people who have dementia or some form of cognitive impairment.
They have a specially trained staff with smaller staff-to-patient ratios and unique activities, therapies, and amenities specifically tailored to their resident’s needs.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six out of every ten patients become disoriented while away from home, often resulting in serious injury or death. Providing a safe and secure atmosphere with Alzheimer’s care is the best way to care for your loved ones.
Signs It’s Time to Consider a Memory Care Community
These facilities are designed to allow residents to continue to maintain their quality of life with the accommodations they need to keep them safe.
There are several signs that may indicate it is time to consider a community.
- Safety Concerns: The biggest concern for Alzheimer’s patients is safety and security. Wandering from home, risk-taking, getting lost and panicked are very real safety concerns.
- Caregiver Decline: There can be several reasons why a caregiver may not be equipped to handle a spouse, parent, or grandparent with dementia. Perhaps they are stressed and overwhelmed with their own lives, deteriorating in their old age, or perhaps the spouse has passed away and there is no other caregiver available.
- Personal Care: People living with Alzheimer’s or dementia still know they need to take a shower, change their clothes, or brush their teeth, but sometimes forget how to do them. If your family member isn’t taking care of themselves, they may be embarrassed asking for help.
- Physical Changes: Physical changes may include slumping, frailty, losing or gaining weight. These types of changes may mean they are struggling to take care of themselves.
- Social Isolation: Activities and socializing are more difficult when battling dementia. As seniors recognize they are struggling they will often withdraw from friends and family.
- Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis: A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t automatically mean memory care. Many patients can live comfortably at home for years. However, in order to be admitted into a facility, you must have a doctor’s recommendation.
- Changes in Behavior: Dementia is known to alter someone’s personality. It is a disease that progresses over time and only gets worse. If you notice your loved one becoming agitated, angry, violent, withdrawn, confused, or disoriented in their own space, it may be time for additional help.
- Incontinence: This is a sure sign that additional help is necessary. Family members are often not prepared to deal with incontinence or assistance with toileting.
9 Benefits of Memory Care Communities
Memory care communities strive to promote dignity and overall well-being in a supportive environment for all residents and their families. These 10 benefits are just the beginning of the advantages you’ll find from the right facility.
1. Safety: This is always a top priority. A memory care facility is designed to protect the resident and their family in these situations.
2. Cleaning and Laundry: These communities ensure each resident is clean and cared for.
3. Meals, Nutrition, and Healthy Diet: The staff ensures each resident is fed proper, nutritious meals and still has access to their favorite foods.
4. Active Lifestyle: A memory care community focuses on keeping the residents active with engaging activities and social opportunities.
5. Pleasing and Welcoming Environment: These facilities understand the unique needs of their residents to keep their environment calm, quiet, and pleasing to reduce confusion and agitation.
6. Personalized Quality Care: A caring staff will get to know your loved one, understand their favorite things and habits to ensure they receive personalized attention that will help them thrive within the community.
7. Peace of Mind: The family members of residents are welcome to visit anytime and see their loved ones happy and thriving. The peace of mind knowing they are safe and healthy is unmatched.
8. Gentle Routine: A memory care community provides a gentle routine that supports cognitive function, provides attention, and maintains daily activities as long as possible.
9. Improved Quality of Life: Within the community, residents have access to services and amenities that improve their overall quality of life. They can safely go to the gym or the beauty salon. They can enjoy the outdoors, spend time with pets, visit a library or art show. These allow our residents to not just survive but truly thrive during their final years.
Types of Assistance in Memory Care Community
Memory care communities provide specialized assistance with trained staff specifically qualified to handle Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.
In addition to providing safe housing, there are three main areas of personalized care for each resident.
ADLs: These are the activities of daily living such as sleeping, eating, bathing, grooming and toileting.
Cognitive Care: The staff will work with doctors and specialists to provide cognitive care for memory loss. While dementia is currently incurable, there are activities and therapies that may lessen the effects or slow the progression of the disease. These may include music therapy, art therapy or reminiscent therapy.
24-7 Attention: Each resident has around-the-clock care to ensure they are never more than a few minutes away from help when they need it.
The Must-Have Staff Members in Memory Care
Each community is well staffed with a crew of qualified individuals who care for the residents each day.
- Facility Administrator or Director: This is the individual who is in charge of the building. They are not medically trained but are responsible for administration and the business side of the community.
- Administrative Staff: This is the staff that helps run the building. They may assist with things like intake, billing, etc., but are not medically trained.
- Director of Nursing: This is the head nurse who is in charge of delegating responsibilities to the nursing staff and overseeing the nursing practices within the building. They are only found in personal care homes.
- Nursing Staff: Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants are found in personal care homes. These are usually the individuals who will take on the daily care for the residents.
- Admissions Coordinator: This individual manages the rooms and helps with moving in/moving out of residents.
- Housekeeping: The housekeeping staff takes care of the everyday chores for residents such as laundry, dishes, light cleaning in the rooms etc.
- Chef: The chef and kitchen staff prepare three meals a day and provide snacks for residents.
- Custodial Staff: The custodial staff often works at night to ensure all common areas are clean and disinfected.
- Doctors: There may be a number of different doctors who come to a memory care community.
- Geriatrician: This is a doctor who specializes in the well-being of the elderly. They often work with diagnosis and treating disease while preventing disabilities.
- Psychiatrist: Because dementia and depression are closely linked, psychiatrists are often used to assist with the mental and emotional health of the residents.
How To Choose the Right Memory Care Facility
Memory care is the fastest-growing sector of the senior housing market, with the number of units doubling over the past decade. However, the quality of care varies widely from one facility to another. It’s important to visit in person and ask the right questions as you choose the right facility for your loved one.
Check the layout and physical environment: Is it easy to get around, do they have acceptable safety features? Are there gardens or outdoor areas to explore safely? Does it appear clean, comfortable and quiet?
Ask About the Staff: The staff should have a low staff-to-patient ratio and include memory-enhancing therapies, nurses, Certified Alzheimer’s nurses, nursing care administrators, experienced staff trained in dementia care and necessary health care providers.
Food and Activities: Ask about what types of meals and snacks are available. Can the residents eat anytime and/or take meals in their room? What does the activity/meal calendar look like? Look for meals and activities that your loved one may enjoy to see if it’s a good fit.
Availability of Continuing Care: Some facilities are able to provide additional medical care, some are not. If your loved one is losing their memory and has complex medical needs (or develops them later on), ask about what health conditions may require them to be moved to another level of care.
Ask for References: Ask to speak with families who have residents in the building who may be willing to share their experiences with you.
Cost of Memory Care Community
Because of the specialized training and high staffing in these communities, the price is typically higher than other forms of assisted living. The range of pricing may be anywhere from $3,500 per month to over $8,000 per month. There are several variables that determine pricing in your area such as location, care needs, living accommodations, and more. For an accurate pricing estimate contact Patti Naiser at Senior Home Transitions.
Different Ways to Pay for Memory Care Services in A Community Setting
Patti Naiser at Senior Home Transitions is a professional senior care placement coordinator, who can help you find the best place for your loved one and a way to pay for it.
There are several ways to use insurance benefits, home equity, property or other financial avenues to pay for assisted living. Three of the most common include VA benefits, Long Term Care Insurance or Medicaid (outside of Kentucky).
Government Assistance/ VA Benefits: There may be veteran’s benefits or government assistance programs available in your area that can help cover some of the cost of long-term care.
Life Insurance: If your loved one has an existing life insurance policy, they may be able to cash out early. You can cash out through an accelerated death benefit or by selling their policy and then use the funds to cover the cost of long-term care.
A Step-by-Step Process to Move Your Loved Ones to Memory Care Community
To receive the innumerable benefits from memory care, seniors and family members must first have some hard conversations and make a difficult transition. For seniors, this process may be confusing, and they may be unable to process clearly what is happening. For families, the reality may be equally difficult and handling the logistics, finances, and emotional rollercoaster is often overwhelming.
Step 1 – Start the Conversation
This should be a topic of conversation early and often. Forcing someone into a home isn’t the ideal situation. Instead, open the communication with several small conversations over time only if you do this before dementia causes paranoia or inability to reason. If that has occurred, you should not have the conversation with the person being placed.
Get support from siblings and family members beforehand. Different opinions and voices may overwhelm seniors, so stick to the same script and keep everyone on the same page.
Go on a tour to a couple of these facilities and choose the one you think best for your loved one. This will be too overwhelming for a person already affected by dementia.
Step 2 – Moving to the Community
It’s best to pack up the house when your parents are asleep, at an appointment, or spending time with friends. Bring whatever you’re able to move into their new home to personalize your parent’s living space.
If possible, have their room set up and ready before they move in. Familiar furniture, blankets, and decor can help them transition easier. Describe what is happening to them in a way they can understand.
Step 3 – Convincing Your Loved One
Many residents are resistant to moving. They may be angry or agitated. They may lash out or constantly ask to come home. It’s not always possible to convince them, so don’t try.
Every situation is different. We typically assess an individual and help you come up with a plan to make the move as smooth as possible.
Myths About Memory Care
Today’s facilities are a far cry from the nursing homes of yesteryear. Caring for our aging adults is a priority that is taken seriously today. Many assumptions of memory care are simply untrue and debunking these common myths provides peace of mind to family and friends.
MYTH: The staff won’t truly care about my loved one
FACT: The low staff-to-patient ratio in memory care facilities allows the staff to get to know each resident on a personal level. The staff should be trained specifically to handle Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and are passionate about their wellbeing. Let us introduce you to communities that have well-trained and caring staff.
MYTH: My loved one will spend all day alone in a room.
FACT: Each resident is given the freedom to spend their time as they choose. However, the staff will help your loved one to establish a daily routine of self-care and encourage them to participate in activities or socialize with others. While they may keep to themselves at first, most residents will eventually begin to acclimate, socialize, and enjoy activities with others.
MYTH: The facility won’t accommodate my loved one’s unique needs.
FACT: Each resident is unique and although this is home to all, the care and attention is individual. We recommend making a photo album or “get to know you” book so the staff can learn the likes/dislikes of your loved one, past accomplishments, hobbies, or things they enjoy so they can tailor their care to meet the needs of your loved one.
MYTH: My loved one won’t be spending the holidays with anyone.
FACT: Many residents make friendships within the facility and of course, visitors are always welcome. You can continue family traditions, spend the holidays and birthdays together and continue to create lasting memories for you and your family.
FAQs About Memory Care Community