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Should My Loved One Be in a Memory Care Community?
Elizabeth Bemis

By: Elizabeth Bemis on September 24th, 2019

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Should My Loved One Be in a Memory Care Community?

Aging & Caregiving

Are you wondering what type of senior living community is right for your loved one? The choice between memory care and assisted living is one that many families struggle to make. Is your loved one simply forgetful or do they have a greater need for memory care and assistance? There are many signs to look out for and questions to ask yourself to determine if a memory care community is a right decision for your loved one.

What is a Memory Care Community?

Seniors that deal with memory challenges face specific struggles each day, struggles beyond simply forgetting where the keys are or whether or not they locked the front door. When seniors face memory challenges, their health and safety can be at risk. Memory care communities address these risks with thoughtfully designed communities that promote the well-being of their residents. 

 

Memory care is specifically for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. When a senior struggles with these diseases, they require a specialized type of care. Memory care communities take into account the level of support that seniors with memory challenges need. In these communities, staff members provide 24-hour supervision, ensuring residents are healthy and safe. Because many seniors with memory disorders tend to wander off, living in a secure community means that you don’t have to worry about your loved one.

 

How Does It Differ from Assisted Living?

Memory care and assisted living communities are both designed to take care of seniors that are dealing with the challenges of aging. Memory care communities offer many of the same services that assisted living communities offer, but they also provide additional services specific to the needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Let’s look at some of the areas in which memory care communities differ from assisted living communities

 

Routine

Much of life in a memory care community is focused on routine. Providing structure helps seniors to feel comfortable and anticipate what is coming next in their day. While routine is important in an assisted living community, how routines are developed in memory care places a greater focus on the needs of each resident.

 

Community Design

Memory care communities are even designed specifically for seniors with memory challenges, using circular walkways and eliminating obstacles. This makes it easier and less frustrating for seniors to exercise or walk around the community. Another benefit of these walkways is that they provide easy access to staff members. Seniors can always find help when they need it. 

 

These communities are well monitored, too. With 24-hour supervision and secure entrances and exits, you don’t have to worry about your loved one wandering off.

 

Staff Skills

Staff members are also trained to work with memory care community residents. Facing memory challenges can be frustrating, and it takes a specific set of skills to make seniors stay calm and feel comfortable. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's disease can easily get frustrated, and arguing with them can add to the frustration. Staff members are taught to redirect these seniors, diffusing frustration instead of increasing it.

 


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Medical Care

Memory care communities also provide a higher degree of medical care than assisted living communities. This can mean memory care community staff members working with doctors to report any changes to a senior’s health or memory. When a senior lives at home alone, it can be hard to identify subtle changes in their health or mental state. When you choose a senior living community, you can trust that staff members are paying attention to even the smallest changes. 

 

Activities and Socialization 

Socialization is also another way in which these communities differ. In an assisted living community, seniors might socialize with one another, participate in club activities, and more. Memory care communities take other approaches to entertainment and socialization and find special ways for seniors to connect with memories from their past, and meet them where they are in terms of their socialization skills.

 

Other activities are often directed toward memory care, too. Some communities offer music therapy and memory games to help seniors strengthen their memories. Seniors with these memory challenges also tend to avoid social situations, as they know they become easily confused. In these communities, however, seniors are encouraged to engage with others and participate in activities, crafts, games, and more.

 

When Should You Consider a Memory Care Community?

It can be difficult to determine when it’s the right time to move your loved one to a memory care community. What is ideal for your loved one now, may not meet their memory care needs tomorrow. Another way to determine what is right for your loved one is to ask these questions of yourself and other family members.

 

  • Does my loved one need more help?
  • Are they taking their medication appropriately?
  • Are they getting proper nutrition?
  • Does my loved one need more emotional and mental stimulation?
  • Is my loved one walking safely?
  • Is my loved one taking showers and maintaining proper hygiene?
  • Does my loved one have an increased tendency toward isolation?
  • Does my loved one display Increased aggression?
  • Do they display sundowning symptoms or confusion at night?
  • Do they tend to wander?
  • Is there increased stress for the senior or caregiver?
  • Have they lost interest in their family and friends?
  • Do they have an increased sense of being overwhelmed?
  • Are they increasingly confused?

 

If you answered “no” to many of these questions, your loved one may require a specialized level of care. If you don’t think memory care is right for them today, you may want to revisit these questions in the future. Memory care will meet the needs of some seniors, but not others. Be sure to think carefully about your loved one’s needs today and moving forward before you make your decision.


Want to experience the benefits of living in an assisted living community yourself? Get your free guide on touring senior living communities now.

Download Your Free Guide

About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.