One of the most difficult situations a spouse or adult child can face is a loved one with a progressive memory disease like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Caregivers may want to provide a home environment as long as possible, but eventually, their loved one’s needs escalate above their ability to manage.
At that point, it becomes time to choose a memory care center. At a high-level, good memory care centers provide well-equipped private or semi-private rooms, 24-hour supervision, and services such as dining, housekeeping, and laundry services. Specialized activities to keep patients mentally and physically stimulated are also part of the package. Overall, the environment should protect residents’ health and safety while promoting happiness and improving quality of life.
However, because every memory care facility or community is different, it is necessary to research and navigate your options carefully when making a decision. Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider for a loved one when choosing memory care services:
Skilled care staff is critical
Skilled, compassionate care staff should be on duty 24 hours to handle medical or other emergencies whenever they occur. Ask about the credentials are required for staff to be hired and what training they receive. Find out if the care team has been specially trained to effectively respond to behaviors such as verbal and physical aggression, wandering, and agitation, which are common among dementia patients.
Psychological services should also be provided to address the patient’s cognitive needs. Because dementia takes different paths for different patients, therapists should develop individualized plans for each resident’s progressive mental and emotional needs.
A secured facility keeps your loved one safe
One of the primary aspects of a memory care center is that it has a higher level of security than an assisted-living facility. This is a big differentiator and absolutely must be in place.
Memory care centers or units should stay locked 24/7, have alarmed exits, and security staff on-site in case of emergencies. More than outside-in protection, this heightened security is to keep residents safe from wandering and getting lost. Memory care communities are not only made to be safe; they are also designed to create an uplifting, stress-reducing atmosphere for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Unique design elements commonly found in memory care facilities include circular layouts to prevent confusion and well-lit rooms and common areas.
Structured activities improve quality of life
It can be upsetting to think of your loved one struggling with depression or feelings of isolation because of their memory loss. But you can be comforted knowing that in a supportive memory care center, they can still enjoy an enriched life. Activities and therapies led by skilled staff go a long way to helping patients feel mentally engaged and happier. According to the National Council for Aging Care, “up to 75 percent of residents in memory care communities experience a slowed or stalled progression of symptoms.”
Good memory care centers pack each day with a variety of rewarding and therapeutic things to do. Examples can include music therapy, arts and crafts, singing, dancing, exercise, and other interactive group activities. When the weather is accommodating, enjoying the outdoors and natural light lifts the spirits. Avoiding social isolation helps dementia patients experience an improved quality of life.
Do your research and make a confident decision
When it comes to selecting a memory care facility, it’s essential to understand what’s important to both you and your loved one. Be sure to tour several facilities and meet with staff members. Observe how they interact with other residents as you tour and ask plenty of questions.
Find out how robust the facility-to-caregiver communication plan is and the frequency of updates. You can get more objective feedback from the facility’s CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) ratings and online reviews.