Caring for a loved one takes compassion and dedication. But when your family member is struggling with more serious issues, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, another form of dementia, or memory loss, you might begin to wonder if home care is truly the best choice for their quality of life. In some situations, a senior care facility will be the safest, most comfortable, and most engaging place your loved one can enjoy for the rest of their lives.
The struggle many families face once they decide to find a care community is deciphering which type of facility will best suit their loved one’s needs and lifestyle. There are plenty of options with ranges of care from a nursing home to assisted living to independent living, but people with memory loss may need more attention. Those with memory loss often respond best to a memory care community where the staff is trained to address their specific needs.
How Is Memory Care Different From Assisted Living?
It’s not uncommon for someone to look at an assisted living facility when their family member starts to show signs of memory problems. These communities offer high levels of care, sometimes even with personalized plans. They often employ a 24/7 nursing staff to provide help with activities of daily living (ADLs), organize community activities and opportunities for individual enrichment, and have community dining areas where residents can enjoy company at meal times.
Although this may sound like exactly what you hope to have for your loved one, memory loss residents often need more specialized care to continue a comfortable life. This type of care is what memory care communities and memory care units specialize in.
Memory care staff are specially trained in areas like Alzheimer’s and dementia care. They work with patients to reduce common side effects of memory loss, such as anxiety, confusion, and wandering. There are also specialized activities in memory care communities to help exercise and stimulate residents’ brains. Things like music therapy, arts and crafts sessions, and outdoor time can all help to keep the brain active and give residents much-valued social time.
Some doctors may prescribe memory loss patients a special diet to address other issues their condition could cause, such as trouble swallowing. For this reason, memory care facilities often offer a variety of nutritional options for their residents and can easily adhere to prescribed diets. Like assisted living communities, they also offer a restaurant-style dining area where residents can mingle and chat with friends while they enjoy meals.
Safety is a heightened concern with memory loss residents because of their tendency to wander or suddenly become confused. Memory care communities take extra precautions to make sure their residents are safe. In addition to safety precautions like wide hallways and grab rails, staff make their living quarters feel like home by adding pictures of family and personal effects can help residents not become confused as often. Additionally, door alarms, motion sensor lights, and one-touch sinks help residents safely navigate everyday life.
Keeping someone with memory loss safe requires special care especially if they experience confusion or wander. Memory care communities are often designed to help. The best communities combine intentional spaces and layouts with attentive staff to ensure the safest possible environment.
If your loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, or other memory loss, then a memory care facility can offer them the safety, comfort, personal care they need. These facilities can provide the specialized care and extra support that assisted living communities aren’t equipped to offer.
What to Look for in Memory Care Communities
Finding any type of senior living can feel overwhelming, and memory care is no exception. When it comes to finding the right care community for your loved one, there is a lot to consider, but there are some questions that can help you find quality care that matches your needs.
What type of training does the staff have?
The staff in these facilities is usually made up of skilled nurses of varying degrees. There might be a mix of registered nurses, licensed practicing nurses, and nurse practitioners all trained in memory care. You can ask if any staff members have specific qualifications, training, or certifications when it comes to dealing with specific cognitive impairments, forms of dementia, or stages of Alzheimer’s.
What types of living quarters are offered?
It’s not uncommon for facilities with specialized care to offer mainly semi-private rooms. This helps facilities assist the maximum number of patients and gives residents someone to bond with if they’re looking for a new friend. Alternatively, you may be able to secure a private room if the facility offers them, but keep in mind these often cost more than the semi-private option.
How much personal care can residents expect?
Some memory care patients need considerable assistance with daily activities and getting around the facility. You want to make sure the level of care in the community matches their needs. The staff size often correlates with how much personal attention nurses can give each patient, so you might inquire about the staff-to-resident ratio to get an idea of how many people are available to help your loved one.
What is the procedure for handling medical emergencies?
Every senior care facility will have some type of emergency medical plan. If something happens to your loved one, you want to know they’ll receive the best medical care quickly to ensure their health and comfort. Ask about what the procedure is for emergency care, which hospital the facility uses or is partnered with, and at what point you will be notified of the situation. This information can provide you with some peace of mind that your family member is in good care, even in the event of an emergency.
How often is the laundry picked up and the room cleaned?
Many facilities offer laundry and cleaning services as an amenity for their guests. They usually run on a weekly schedule, but might have services available for pick up or tidying outside of their normal schedule. If you plan to visit your loved one often or simply want to remind them when someone will be coming into their room, having the schedule from the facility can help you to keep your family member on track along with the staff.
Where will they eat their meals?
Are special diets accepted? Some independent living communities include a kitchenette in the living quarters, but in places with memory care, a dining hall or cafeteria is more common. This gives residents a chance to socialize at meals and also ensures everyone is getting proper nutrition throughout the day. Most facilities can cater to special diets, as well, if your loved one has specific nutritional care needs, but it’s important to confirm this aspect before choosing your care community.
Recognizing When You Need Specialized Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care
Living with memory problems can be dangerous. Even with in-home health care, there are typically long stretches where your loved one may be home alone or with only their spouse. These times can present dangerous situations in which a loved one may become confused, disoriented, or even violent if they’re scared.
Placing your loved one in a memory care community can help them stay safe and often improves their quality of life. They will have a dedicated staff overseeing their care and have opportunities to meet new people they wouldn’t have had in their homes if they are no longer mobile. Still, knowing when it’s time to forgo home health help or being the caregiver yourself can be difficult.
There are five signs you can look for in your family member to see if they are suffering from memory loss problems or the early stages of dementia.
Change in behavior.
One sign of early stage dementia is a change in behavior. The person may seem apprehensive about activities they once loved, suddenly withdraw from social interaction, or forget daily hygiene routines. These can all be signs the person is experiencing memory loss that’s impacting their daily life.
Confusion or disorientation.
Some people may feel confused or disoriented in their own home, but sometimes these symptoms set in at more dangerous times. A person might forget the rules of the road while driving and get into an accident, or wander away from home and not remember how to get back.
Decline in physical health.
Memory loss can be especially dangerous to one’s physical health. A person may forget to buy groceries or cook themselves meals, which could result in significant weight loss. They may also decline in health if they’re forgetting to take their medications, or taking too much or too little.
A caregiver’s deterioration.
Caregiving is a full-time job, and when it’s up to just one person it can take a physical toll on them as well. If the caregiver is run ragged trying to care for their loved one, then they might not be alert enough to notice other signs of memory loss. Additionally, if the caregiver is a spouse, they may need more specialized care themselves and be unable to properly care for their loved one.
This is often an overwhelming symptom for family caregivers. Keeping up with changing and cleaning a loved one can be physically and emotionally taxing. Opting for professional care is often the best way to ensure your family member is properly cared for and retains their dignity throughout the process.
The Care Services We Provide at Weatherly Inn
At Weatherly Inn, we work hard to provide the best possible care for our memory care residents. From our variety of care options and personalized care plans to the carefully crafted environment and meticulously planned activities, our facilities are designed with the residents’ well-being in mind.
All of Weatherly Inn’s locations feature a safe environment that feels like home. We hope to make long-term care feel like residential care by adding personal effects and family photos to our residents’ rooms. This can be especially helpful in easing the transition for memory care residents. We also offer plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces where residents can safely wander and explore as they enjoy the company of others and the beauty of nature.
Social interaction is critical for people with memory loss, so we make sure to create plenty of opportunities for our residents to interact with staff and each other. We plan special events for our memory care residents and also encourage them to attend community-wide events and meet new people.
We also offer fun activities throughout the week to break up the humdrum of daily routine, some of which are tailored specifically to our memory care patients. There are exercise classes, pet interactions — all of our facilities are even pet-friendly — music therapy sessions, and scenic drives through town. This gives residents a chance to get out of their rooms or out of the facility and do something fun with their day.
Our caregivers provide round-the-clock care with things like medication management, daily activities, and dressing and grooming. Our 24/7 licensed nursing is here to monitor which medications each resident needs and ensure they receive the right doses each day. They also help with transporting patients who have mobility issues and encouraging them to keep doing their best with things they can still manage on their own.
Schedule a tour to get a closer look at our memory care program and see how we can meet your loved one’s needs.