Are you searching “What Is Memory Care?” to better understand services offered by quality retirement and assisted living communities? If so this article helps you understand the the memory challenges people face and how memory care enriches and improves their lives.
- Basics of Memory Care
- Community life
- Services offered
- Cost of memory are
- Touring a community
- Moving to a community and the life after moving
Most of us normally associate old age with having a frail physical body: failing eyesight, wrinkling skin and arthritis in your joints. Even the mind will begin to show its age with forgetfulness, it doesn’t matter if you forget where you put your glasses or the date of your anniversary. What happens when the mind begins to age in ways that has disrupted the memories or personality?
This can be quite heartbreaking and normally the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Although it is easy to have stronger reading glasses prescribed or get medication for arthritis, healing the mind that has dementia or Alzheimer’s isn’t possible which leaves families the only choice of just to adapt to the condition of the loved one.
If you want to know more about memory care communities after reading this article, or you want to find a community that would be best for you or a loved one, call us today. Our team is dedicated to helping you find the best community for you, in the perfect location, with all the right services and at the price you want and do so for free.
Basics of Memory Care
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the most common memory loss conditions that are included in memory care. This type of specialized care spans through a large availability of services that depend on the severity of the symptoms that a person has such as requiring secure settings to prevent elopement.
Memory care will go beyond what is normally offered in assisted living. Housekeeping, meal prep, laundry services are given but the level of assistance that is needed with daily activities will be increased. Often times, daily activities are created to allow the person to reconnect with favorite interests of hobbies.
In recognition of the care challenges for dementia or Alzheimer’s, these communities may only give memory care, or with cases of continuing care communities, have neighborhoods just for residents that require memory care. Often times it is these communities that have design elements that research has shown to lower the stress in those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. These elements may include memory boxes outside of the room, circular neighborhood designs that allows safe wandering, and natural lighting. Because 6 out of 10 people that have Alzheimer’s will begin to wander, the community will be designed to lower the risks of elopement, and whether it is doing more safety checks or adding security alarms on doors.
Demographics of memory care communities
Although there is data that is available for the demographics of assisted living as well as nursing homes, the same isn’t the same for memory care communities. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2014 5.2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. 5 million were over 65, and 3.2 million of those cases were women while 1.8 million were men.
Amenities that are found within a memory care community aren’t really that glamorous as living within an assisted living or independent living community like having ice cream parlors or indoor swimming pools, but that is by their designs and not an oversight. Research has shown that people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s can become easily disoriented and stressed, and these communities are created to develop a relaxing setting.
Communities will normally have a secured courtyard that will let residents garden or walk outside without there being a risk of elopement. There are gathering places like libraries, TV lounges that are common. To create a really intimate setting for their residents, memory care communities could be designed around neighborhood settings with apartments that have been clustered around shared areas. Hallways are bright colored and in a variety of colors to help residents find their way.
There are apartment suites that are available in companion and private options, and there are some communities that offer a one-bedroom apartments. These types of suites will not have kitchenettes that have been found in assisted living facilities because the amenities are minimal to help reduce stress. In order to help residents find their ways, most communities will have a memory box that is filled with mementos from their lives outside of their apartment.
The dining rooms are normally set up like a family style dining, so that residents are able to gather for meals. Some of the memory care providers like Autumn Leaves, have specially designed menus that help with the lack of appetite from dementia and Alzheimer’s. The dining rooms have tropical fish tanks, which studies have shown that watching fish help to increase appetites, and the attention is made to create a contrast before the plate and food color to help the residents see the food better.
There are also activities that have been created around the past interests of the resident, so that they can reconnect with their memories; games, art classes, and music is normally offered, as well as exercise classes. There are even some communities that will give residents an escorted outing.
At memory care communities, the staff will handle all the responsibilities of life from the laundry to housekeeping to transportation to meal prep. Assistance with daily activities is also part of the standard service. Advanced healthcare services such as nursing services are not usually offered unless the community is part of a larger facility.
Cost of memory are
Because Dementia and Alzheimer’s need higher levels of care, the cost of memory care will be higher than assisted living.
The monthly rates for many communities will include services and rent; utilities may be included with the phone and cable being extra. There is normally a one-time community fee, and there may also be an assessment fee. The care costs are calculated based on the needs of the person. There are some communities that have various care packages that range from hands on assistance to minimal cueing, which will let the family select the level of care that will meet the needs of the loved one. There are other types of communities that will give care points to your loved one for the level of support that a person needs and then charge a monthly fee and a fixed amount for each care point.
Selecting memory care communities and what you should expect during assessment
Because of the high costs that come with memory care, there are some families that may go with the less expensive alternative of assisted living for their loved one. The news is that most assisted living facilities are offering memory care light for those who aren’t prone to wandering or need an enhanced environment. For those who are used to wandering or need constant attention, a memory care community is best.
Although, it may be hard to find a community especially in the rural areas that will offer memory care. Out of the senior living providers that offer memory care services, according to the National Study of Long Term Care providers of 2012 has found that 26% only serve residents that have dementia or have just a portion of the community to provide dementia care. There are some companies that only provide memory care at their community while others will provide this with assisted living.
With larger communities being the ones that often only do memory care, you could be reluctant to sign up your loved one, as they may not get 1-on-1 care or be completely overwhelmed by being around too many people. Although, most memory care communities are created around a neighborhood styling, where there are common areas that are duplicated all over. This allows a resident to have homelike atmosphere in a bigger setting.
Once you have found a community, your loved one will begin the assessment process to see if they will fit in the community, such as seeing if the community will be able to provide the care that they need. Depending on the assessment policy of the community, a nurse may visit the home to assess your loved one. It is vital that you be honest about the behavior of your loved one, and whether they have difficulty walking, wanders off, etc. so that they nurse will be able to create a care plan that will address all of their needs.
Finding the inspection records of memory care communities
Unless the services, like medication management and daily living assistance are provided by a home care agency from a third party, most memory care communities will be licensed and inspected by the state agency that has been charged with long term care facilities. These type of inspections are on record and you can get them from the state either through public records request or online. If the memory care community is part of a larger community, the community may be listed by the name of the community instead of the campus name.
Many states also require these communities to post or have their inspection results made available upon request. Viewing several years of records will let you see if there are any patterns of failing to follow procedures and if the violations were minor or life threatening.
Touring a community
It is also vital that you visit the community to see if your loved one will fit. Touring a community at various times is really recommended, that way you can view the staff and residents throughout the day instead of just during activities or lunch. Touring can be quite overwhelming to start with, so bring a check list to note certain features that you are looking for. Also ensure that you are using your senses to study the community. If you see the building needs repairs or you smell urine, it is a red flag.
Ensure that you are asking if the staff is certified or have received memory care training because this helps to make sure that your loved one will be cared for by the staff who understand how dementia and Alzheimer’s affects the mind as well as body. Ask if the community has a specialized memory care program. Due to the unique caring challenges that are posed by dementia and Alzheimer’s, there are some communities that have developed unique programs that will guide how residents are cared for to make sure that every aspect of their lives are handled properly – from being nurtured spiritually to physical well being.
Moving to a community and the life after moving
Once a community has been picked, you could dread the trauma that this transition may cause. Although, there are plenty of steps that you can take to make the moving less traumatic. One of these types of steps is establishing and then sticking with a story is vital. This could be simple like telling your mother that your father is visiting a family friend. Having the room of your loved one ready and decorated will help with the transition and reduce the stress of moving. There are some communities that may help in escorting your loved one to the community.
Once your loved one has moved, they may not want to jump into community life and ask to leave. In this type of situation, be prepared to have a story why they can’t come home, such as the house is being repaired. Eventually they will settle down in to a routine and accept the community as a home.