Choosing the right memory care facility is about more than just location. Many of us want to provide the highest level of care for our older loved ones and ensure they continue to feel appreciated and valued as they go about their daily lives. There are so many myths regarding memory care and dementia care that you truly have to do your homework before making an informed choice about selecting a memory care unit.
Memory care is unique to each individual, as the needs can vary greatly from one person to the next. Some need general Alzheimer’s care, while others require care for vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia. Some require specialization in early intervention for Alzheimer’s disease, while others are in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s more, you may be unsure as to whether you need to consider a senior living community with memory care or a nursing home. As you search for a memory care unit that best fits your loved one’s needs, there are several things to keep in mind.
Understanding Your Loved One’s Needs
It can take up to three months for symptoms to show up after an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis. We suggest taking some time to meet with several memory care facilities before selecting the one you feel is best for your loved one. There are many factors to consider when choosing the best memory care facility, but one of the most important is the staff.
Sufficient staffing is important, as well as a diverse mix of staff members to suit every resident’s need and personality. These caretakers will help your loved one feel more comfortable and at home during their stay. The attitude and culture of the staff will speak volumes about the type of care your loved one will receive.
A provider may have certified nurse aides (CNA), certified medication technicians/aides (CMT/CMA), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and Registered Nurses (RN) as well oversight and assistance from nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), and physicians. The staff will likely also include a variety of team members such as social workers and activities directors. Your loved one might need higher levels of support as time goes by, so look for treatment providers that have experienced staff at varying levels of care should the need arise.
What Kind of Assistance Is Needed For Those With Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?
Residents in memory care communities should continue to challenge themselves and learn new things in order to support their cognitive functioning. Memory care communities must also be able to provide your loved one with the right amount of emotional support and individualized care.
It’s important to have a staff that has the right mix of certified nurse aides or assistants (CNAs). What’s a CNA? CNAs are certified nurses’ aides who may specialize in dementia treatment and care. They work closely with other health care professionals to help residents lead healthy, happy lives.
A CNA can provide a wide range of services, such as helping your loved one with:
- Preparing meals for the day
- Eating and drinking
- Maintaining daily hygiene
- Bathing and using the restroom
- Getting dressed
- Blood pressure checks and vital signs
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
- Monitoring behavior, cognitive level and problem-solving skills
- Communication with family and doctors
- Emotional support services
- General preparations for the day ahead
CNAs specialize in providing personal support to their patients. They usually work in nursing homes, assisted living centers and hospitals. Trained CNAs can help assess a patient’s needs and are supportive in terms of giving medications, bathing and performing other basic tasks. They can also work with people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
What Kinds of Amenities Are Provided By Memory Care Facilities
Memory care facilities offer residents a stable, supportive environment where they can receive the individualized services they need. Each resident has a bedroom with all the amenities older adults have come to expect. Residents are cared for by a staff that includes both caregivers and nurses, as well as other trained professionals. These facilities offer a number of activities and social opportunities, and their living arrangements may include:
- Dining areas
- Recreation areas
- Outdoor gardens
In addition, memory care communities offer a variety of therapies for residents, including physical, speech, occupational and recreational therapies. In-home services offered by memory care facilities include in-home support, in-home care, home health aides and personal care attendants.
Varying Levels of Independence
It’s common for older adults to experience some loss of independence. Those in nursing homes typically need more hands-on care, while those in assisted living facilities tend to be more independent. But memory care residents span a wide range of levels of care. Many residents simply need assisted living help with getting dressed, eating, getting out of bed, etc., but will keep their independence for other activities.
Getting Older With Grace
Memory care facilities exist to provide quality care, services and programs that help residents maintain their independence and dignity while living safely in a secure and private environment. The best memory care communities offer care and support that enable residents to go on living a life filled with purpose while achieving the highest level of cognitive function.
Many of these communities provide specialized services like meal preparation, transportation, recreation and help with daily tasks. These services help residents enjoy each day without feeling like they’ve become completely dependent on others.
When selecting the right memory care facility for your loved one, it is important to find a place that feels comfortable, offers the services they require and provides the “right fit.” Their feedback is important during this process.
How to Find the Right Memory Care Facility
Carefully consider the environment of each provider. It should be a place that provides a secure, clean, and safe atmosphere for their residents. A visit to the provider is key to helping you make an informed decision.
Many providers allow residents to bring their own furniture and personal belongings but always speak with the administration about rules, policies and regulations first.
Cost is a key variable, so be sure to discuss pricing in detail to see if the provider is affordable and within budget.
Finally, it is also important to ask the provider about staff training and experience. You want to know if they have adequate and properly trained staff to support the needs of your loved one.
What to Expect
It’s important to know what to expect before moving your loved one into a memory care program. You’ll want to visit several memory care communities to get a feel for them yourself.
Factors to consider when choosing a provider include:
- levels of care
- services offered (many offer games and other stimulating activities)
- resident rights and privacy
- accommodations; assisted living and memory care centers often have different types of floor plans to choose from
- cost and fees
- physical and emotional environment; this can be subjective, but trust your instincts
- a clean, safe, comfortable space for your family member to live and thrive in
Things to Look For
Much like an assisted living facility, memory care units should remind your loved one of home and help keep them from feeling like they are in a completely new environment. There should also be as much privacy as possible, just as if your loved one were in their own house.
The residential area should be free of odors, dust, noise and unnecessary activity. Your loved one should have their own room that is quiet and safe. A good memory care facility will also be able to give you a copy of the residents’ rights when you check in.
Find a Memory Care Community That Caters to Your Loved One’s Interests
The environment will play an important role in your loved one’s ongoing care. The best memory care communities provide games and other mentally stimulating activities like word searches, crosswords and puzzles for residents who like to work on cognitive challenges.
Many memory care facilities also offer social activities, like bingo, card games and crafts, so residents can gather together and spend time with friends and family members. Residents also are able to watch television, listen to music or read books. Finally, there should be plenty of opportunities for residents to exercise and experience the outdoors.
This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of some of the options to consider. When selecting the right memory care facility, remember that your loved one’s health and wellbeing is always the number one priority. Choose a provider that will offer the best care for your loved one and keep them as comfortable as possible.
Memory Care At StoneBridge Senior Living
Here at StoneBridge Senior Living, we’re proud to have built a reputation for safe, compassionate memory care. Our family-owned and -operated senior living facilities provide a range of services. Whether your family member needs 24-hour care at one of our skilled nursing facilities or more independence in an assisted living, rehabilitation or memory care community, you can relax knowing your loved one’s health and safety is always our first priority.