Are you searching “What Is Memory Care?” to better understand services offered by quality retirement and assisted living communities? If so, this article will help you better understand the memory challenges people face and how memory care enriches and improves their lives.
There are many of us that will associate old age with being frail physically such as wrinkling skin, arthritis in joints, and failing eyesight. But as you age, your mind will even begin to show its age with a form of forgetfulness and it doesn’t matter if you forget your anniversary date or where you sat your glasses. What happens to you when your mind begins to age in ways that disrupt your personality or memories?
This can be very heartbreaking and is normally effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even though it is easy to get medication for arthritis and stronger reading glasses, healing your mind that has Alzheimer’s or dementia isn’t really possible which will leave your family with just adapting to your condition.
If you would like to know more about memory care communities after this article or you would like to locate a community that would be best for you or a loved one, contact us today. Our team is quite dedicated to helping you to find the best community, in the best location, with all the services at the price you want and will do this for free.
Basics for Memory Care
Alzheimer’s and dementia are common types of memory loss conditions that are included in memory care. This specialized care goes through a lot of various services that depend on the severity of the symptoms such as requiring secure settings to prevent wandering.
Memory care goes beyond what is normally offered for assisted living. Meal prep, laundry services, and housekeeping are provided but the level of assistance with daily activities will be increased. Often times, the daily activities are made just to allow the person to reconnect with their favorite hobbies and even interests.
When it comes to recognizing care challenges for those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, these communities may only provide memory care or for some continuing care communities will have neighborhoods just for memory care. Often times, these communities will have design elements that has shown to lower stress for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. These elements could include circular neighborhood designs that allow safe wandering, natural lighting, and memory boxes outside of the room. 6 out of 10 people that have Alzheimer’s will start to wander around, and the community will be designed to lower risks of wandering and that could be adding security alarms on doors or safety checks.
Demographics of Memory Care Communities
Even though there is data out there for demographics of nursing homes and assisted living, that isn’t the same for a memory care community. In 2014, 5.2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, 5 million of those people were over 65, and 1.8 million were men while 3.2 million were women.
In a memory care community, the amenities aren’t glamorous like living in an independent living or assisted living community such as having indoor swimming pools or ice cream parlors, but that is by the design not oversight. Research has stated that people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia can become easily stresses and disoriented and these communities are meant to develop a relaxing setting.
Communities that normally have a secured courtyard will allow residents to walk outside and garden without there being a risk of wandering off. There are gathering areas such as TV lounges, libraries that are quite common. In order to make an intimate setting for residents, memory care communities are designed with neighborhood settings with apartments that are near shared areas. Hallways are bright colored and have a variety of colors to help a resident to find their way.
There are even apartments that are available in private and companion options and there are some that have 1 bedroom apartments. These types of apartments won’t have kitchenettes because the amenities are kept to a minimum to help reduce stress. To help residents find their ways, many communities will have memory boxes that are filled with mementos from their lives.
The dining room is normally set up to be family like, so that the residents are able to gather together for meals. Some of the memory care providers such as Autumn Leaves, have specially designed menus that will help with the lack of appetite from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The dining room houses tropical fish tanks, which help to increase appetites according to research, and attention is made to create contrast between the plate and food colors to help residents see the food better.
There are even activities that are made around past interests of residents so that they can reconnect with memories. They also have music, games, and art classes as well as various exercise classes. There are some communities that have escorted outings.
Memory care communities will have staff that can handle life responsibilities like housekeeping, transportation, meal prep and laundry. There is also assistance with daily activities part of standard services. There are also advanced healthcare services like nursing that are not normally offered unless the community is part of a larger facility.
Cost of Memory Care
Because Alzheimer’s and dementia will need higher care levels, the cost of memory care will be much higher than assisted living costs.
The monthly rates for most communities will include rent and services and utilities may also be included but cable and phone may be extra. There is also a one-time community fee, and there could be an assessment fee. Care costs are made based on the persons needs. There are some communities that will have different care packages that will range from minimal cueing to hands on assistance which could let family select the care level needed to meet the needs of the person. There are also other types of communities that will provide care points to your loved on for support level that they need and then charge a fixed amount for each care point and a monthly fee.
Picking a memory care community and what you should expect during the assessment
Because of the high costs that will come with memory care, you may go with the less expensive alternative of assisted living for your loved one. The truth is that many assisted living facilities will only offer light memory care for those who are not prone to wandering off or who need an enhanced environment. For those who need constant attention or wander off a lot, memory care communities are best.
It may be a bit hard to find a community in rural areas that offer memory care. Out of senior living facilities that offer memory care services show that only 26% of those will serve residents that have Alzheimer’s or dementia or only have a portion of the community for dementia care. There are some companies out there that will only provide memory care while others provide assisted living.
The larger communities are often the ones that only do memory care, you may be wary about signing your loved one up, as they may not receive hands on care or they could be overwhelmed by too many people around. Many memory care communities are made with neighborhood styling they have common areas that are duplicated. This gives residents to have a homey atmosphere in a large setting.
Once you have found the community you like, your loved one will start an assessment process to see if they will fit within the community like if the community will be able to provide the care needed. Depending on the assessment policy, a nurse may visit your home to assess your loved one. It is vital that you are honest about how your loved one acts, and if they have issues walking or wanders off, so that the nurse can create a care plan for their needs.
Finding inspection records of the memory care community
Unless the services offered such as medication management and living assistance are provided by a third party home care agency, many memory care communities will be inspected and licensed by the state. These types of inspections will be on record and you can get them from the state through online or a public records request. If the memory care community is part of a large facility, the community may be listed under the name of the facility instead of campus name.
There are states that will require communities to post or make inspection results available. Viewing years of records can let you see if there are patterns of violations or failing to follow procedures whether life threatening or minor.
Touring the Community
It is important that you visit your community picked to see if your loved one will fit in. Touring the community at various times is recommended, so you can view the residents and staff through the day instead of during lunch or activities. Touring can be overwhelming to start out with, so bring a check list to make notes of certain features. Make sure you are using your 5 senses in order to study things about the community. If you notice the smell of urine or the building needs repairs, then it’s a red flag.
Make sure that you ask if the staff is certified or has received memory care training because it helps to make sure that your family member will be cared for by those who truly understand just how dementia and Alzheimer’s will affect the body and mind. Ask if the community provides specialized care programs. Because of the unique care challenges that come from Alzheimer’s and dementia, there are some communities that have unique programs that will guide just how the residents will be cared for to ensure that their lives are handled properly from being nurtured spiritually to their physical well being.
Moving into a community and life after the move
Once you have picked a community, you could dread the type of trauma that this transition can cause. Even though there are various steps that you can take to make the move less traumatic. One of them is to establish and then stick with the story is important. This could be telling your mother that your father is off visiting family friends. Having the room ready as well as decorated can help to transition your loved one and reduce stress that is caused by moving. There are some communities that will help to escort your loved one to their community.
Whenever you loved one has moved, they may not want to join in on the community life and then begin to ask to leave. In this situation, you need to be prepared to have a story about why they are not able to come home such as you are remodeling the home or it is being repaired. Eventually they will begin to settle down into a specific routine and accept that the community is their new home.