Did you know that more than 7 million Americans over 65 have dementia, and by 2040, that number could exceed 12 million? Once symptoms of dementia become more advanced, people need help with dressing, eating, and other daily activities.
If you have a loved one with dementia, you may be starting to look at memory care facilities. Finding the right place can be stressful if you’re unfamiliar with what memory care involves.
You’ll need to keep reading this guide to learn six things you need to know about memory care facilities.
1. Memory Care Isn’t Assisted Living
Memory care facilities are special facilities that care for older adults with memory conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Memory care is different from a long-term nursing care home, assisted living, or other types of senior residences. Assisted living is more like an apartment complex, and residents live independently in their own units. They can attend meals when they like and can also pick and choose from different activities.
People in assisted living don’t have problems with memory or cognitive function, so they don’t require a high level of care.
A memory care facility provides support staff 24/7 to help with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and other personal care needs. Your loved one will also receive help with things like:
- Medication management
You can see these memory care services to get a better idea of what to expect.
2. Memory Care Staff Has Special Training
The staff in memory care facilities needs specific skills to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Most facilities require and pay for all employees to have this training.
Training typically includes programs recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association, like the Dementia Care Practice. This course has a person-centered focus and involves the following:
- Assessments and care planning
- Medical management
- Forming a supportive and therapeutic environment
- Diagnosis and detection
- Dementia behaviors
- Daily living activities
Training programs also help caregivers to manage dementia symptoms with empathy. They’ll learn tools that help seniors work through memory loss and feelings of frustration.
Wellness training helps residents improve all aspects of their health and well-being.
Different staff members will have degrees or professional certifications in the areas of senior fitness. They can design programs that meet the physical needs of older adults with cognitive and physical limitations.
Your loved one will have daily access to these staff members and have a care plan in place based on their individual needs.
3. Memory Care Has Specialized Activities
Memory care facilities have activities like assisted living communities do. However, it’s crucial to keep people with memory conditions engaged in a certain way. Therefore, activities in memory care offer sensory activities to enhance the memories that remain, such as:
- Music therapy and karaoke
- Massage therapy
- Pet therapy
- Art therapy
- Tea time
- Exercise via sensory activities in nature
- Salon on site
In addition, many memory care facilities break up activities into different time blocks. Your loved one will have different options for when they go for meals or their physical activities.
Doing this allows more flexibility in choosing meal times and activities, which reduces stress overall. It also gives residents a sense of independence since they can decide their day’s schedule. Social time also lowers feelings of depression and isolation, making it easier to cope with behavioral changes.
4. Memory Care Facilities Are Safe and Secure
People with Alzheimer’s disease lose the ability to recognize familiar people and places. Additionally, people with dementia often become confused about where they are and tend to wander or get lost.
Memory care facilities focus heavily on the safety and security of their residents. They have safety features like:
- Keypad entrances for staff and family members
- Secured doors with keycode entry
- Doorbells for all doors
- Video surveillance
- Enclosed patios and courtyards
- Gated gardens
- Secure windows that open a few inches
- Motion sensors to alert staff to residents wandering
One of the best things about memory care is you won’t need to worry about your loved one wandering off and getting lost.
5. Memory Care Living Areas Are Designed for People With Dementia
Advanced dementia symptoms typically include aggressive behaviors, wandering, and confusion. As these symptoms progress, these types of behaviors increase.
As a result, people with dementia need an environment where they can move around safely. Memory care facilities have custom floor plans that are easy for residents to navigate. Fall hazards and distracting objects are removed to prevent injuries. Common features include:
- Unique color-coded hallways
- Open floor plans
- Wide doorways
- Exits that are easy to identify
- Special lighting in bathrooms
Some facilities even have memory boxes outside each room. These boxes help residents find their way back to their rooms while reminding them of personal memories of family and friends.
6. Memory Care Offers Special Opportunities for Visiting
Memory care facilities place importance on family visits. They know that seeing family is a significant part of your loved one’s care routine.
The idea is to keep building connections with your loved ones even though they are away from you. Moving to memory care doesn’t have to affect the family bond. These connections also help your loved one maintain a routine they’re comfortable with.
If your loved one is experiencing more advanced dementia symptoms, staff members will help you find different ways to connect with them.
Most of the time, you’ll find activities like family dinners, games, arts and crafts events, and music events.
Memory Care Facilities
Now that you know more about memory care facilities, you’ll feel more comfortable choosing a facility for your loved one.
Be sure to thoroughly research each facility you’re considering and visit them in person. Doing this will allow you to meet the staff and see how they interact with the residents.
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