Ensure Quality Living by Understanding What To Expect From a Memory Care Facility
As a caregiver to a loved one with a memory impairment, you might be hesitant about moving them into a memory care facility.
What if all their days look the same? What if they have no privacy or independence? What if they don’t get the care they need?
These questions might plague you with a sense of doubt and make a stressful decision even harder. What should you expect from a memory care facility? You may find little reality in your uncertainty.
Table of Contents
- What Is It Like Living in Memory Care?
- Why Is It Important To Find a Memory Care Facility That Meets All Your Needs?
- 3 Minimum Standards You Should Expect From a Memory Care Facility
- Beyond the Baseline: Expect a Quality Memory Care Facility To Prioritize These 8 Components of Care
- Questions To Ask When Considering a Memory Care Facility
- Senior Services of America: Providing a Holistic Approach to Memory Care
What Is It Like Living in Memory Care?
Memory care facilities are designed to specially accommodate individuals with memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Accommodations that a memory care facility may provide include:
- 24-hour supervision and security
- Higher staff-to-resident ratios
- Enriching daily activities and therapies
- Structured and scheduled environments
- Nutritional meals and snacks
- Medical staff on-site
- Social opportunities
These facilities structure their operations around granting seniors dignity and independence while ensuring that their environment meets their needs. Most memory care facilities will employ safety standards and basic daily care operations, but not all memory care facilities are created equal.
You want your loved one to feel respected and empowered while living in a memory care facility.
It is important to find a memory care facility that meets more than just a basic standard of needs—you should choose one that meets all your needs or the needs of your loved one.
Why Is It Important To Find a Memory Care Facility That Meets All Your Needs?
Seniors with memory impairments face a range of daily challenges that may impact their well-being. As a caregiver, you alone may not be able to properly facilitate your loved one’s needs while overcoming daily obstacles.
Daily difficulties faced by memory care patients may include:
- Poor nutrition and hydration
- Agitation and anxiety
- Day/night wandering
- Inability to safely live at home
It is important that a memory care facility efficiently meets the standards required to manage obstacles faced by seniors with memory disorders. However, meeting these basic standards may not be enough to provide a high quality of life.
A holistic approach may be needed to provide seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s with a customized plan of care that prioritizes respect, autonomy, and enrichment. At Senior Services of America, our communities center their programs around the residents first and foremost. Find a community near you today.
3 Minimum Standards You Should Expect From a Memory Care Facility
#1: A Program Created Around a Philosophy of Resident-Centered Care
Focusing memory care programs round a philosophy of resident-centered care allows seniors the ability to make meaningful choices in their care plans.
While it may not always be possible for every step of care, this approach aims to allow residents as much self-determination in their care as possible. These choices may vary from what they want to eat to how they want to spend their day.
The core characteristics of a resident-centered care approach are:
- Ensuring residents are respected and valued as full members of society
- Understanding and empathizing with the perspective of the resident in all care and activities
- Providing opportunities for the resident to engage in social interactions
- Producing individual spaces for emotional and physical care that are aligned with residents’ individual changing needs
Not every senior in a memory care facility has the same wants or needs when it comes to their care plan. Memory care facilities may offer specialized care plans to residents to ensure seniors are met with responsiveness when it comes to their needs, values, and expressed desires.
What do specialized care plans entail?
Specialized care plans are typically centered around the individual desires and needs of the patient.
Memory care residents all have varying degrees of autonomy and some might only need assistance with certain tasks. Specialized care plans may also need to evolve to keep up with variable obstacles that can arise from the progression of memory disorders.
Specialized care plans may involve building a plan around:
- Assistance with daily tasks of living
- Mental stimulation
- Emotional support
- Medical assistance such as regularly checking vital signs
#2: Essential and Specially-Trained Team Members
A well-managed memory care facility may have its programs managed by a licensed medical professional like a nurse or nurse practitioner.
To ensure the safety and well-being of residents, the program will need to be supported by a specially trained care team 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Higher staff-to-resident ratios may be necessary to produce an environment that is safe, familiar, and stimulating.
A high staff-to-patient ratio is associated with reduced mortality, reduced fall rates, and high patient satisfaction.
#3: A Safe and Secure Environment
Memory care facilities should be in a structured environment that prioritizes safety, security, comfort, and cleanliness.
To ensure the health and safety of residents, all areas of the facility should be routinely maintained and sanitized.
Residents should be allowed a safe, comfortable space to gather and socialize throughout the day.
The areas should have minimal ground hazards and be well-lit to avoid trips and falls. The building should have security features that allow the residents to be secure without them feeling trapped.
Beyond the Baseline: Expect a Quality Memory Care Facility To Prioritize These 8 Components of Care
#1: Personal Care and Daily Living Needs
Memory care residents may require assistance with activities of daily living and personal care.
Activities of daily living may include:
- Personal hygiene
- Toileting; and
- Medication distribution
These personal needs should be addressed by staff while allowing the individual to feel respected.
Residents may have varying degrees of autonomy and may only need help with certain tasks. A resident-centered approach grants them the right to express which tasks they can perform themselves and which tasks they might need help with.
#2: Social Interaction
Isolation may be a problem individuals with memory disorders can face when living at home alone or with a familial caretaker.
Residency at a memory care facility may allow seniors with memory impairments the opportunity to connect and form meaningful relationships with individuals in the same situation. Residents also have the opportunity to interact and form meaningful bonds with the staff.
A quality memory care facility may organize opportunities for residents to interact with their neighbors and staff as a part of their personalized care plans. Several spaces might also be designated for daily gatherings.
#3: Emotional Support
While physical comfort is important in a memory care facility, emotional comfort is an equal priority.
Emotional distress may be compounded due to feelings of unfamiliarity, loss of independence, and frustration in residents. Facilities should provide their caregivers with training on how to interact with seniors with memory impairments in a respectful manner that helps them retain their dignity and independence.
#4: Physical Activity
Evidence suggests that it may be beneficial for seniors with memory disorders to routinely exercise.
This evidence proposes that exercise may help seniors:
- Improve their strength and balance leading to fewer falls
- Reduce the risk of diseases associated with mental decline
- Improve memory
- Improve behavior and reduce the rate of wandering and aggression
Mild to moderate exercises that may be offered to residents at a memory care facility might include:
- Tai chi
- Seated exercises
Exercise may also be masked as games to promote physical activity in a fun way that allows for mental stimulation and social interaction.
#5: Mental Stimulation
Engaging in activities that promote cognitive stimulation may help slow disease progression, reduce feelings of anxiety or depression, and promote intellectual wellness.
Studies have shown that routine activities promoting mental stimulation in memory care residents may improve satisfaction, quality of life, problem-solving, memory, and mood.
Activities that involve mental stimulation might include:
- Reading a book
- Brain games
- Playing a musical instrument
#6: Life-Enrichment Activities
Life-enriching programs often use small group or individual activities involving therapy with literature, music, art, or games to stimulate residents. Life-enrichment activities are designed to enhance self-esteem and feelings of purpose in a fun, meaningful, and relaxing way.
These activities may include:
- Board games
- Resident-led discussions
#7: Artistic Expression
Evidence suggests that the benefits of art therapy for memory care residents may be immediate and long-term. Artistic expression may help seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s reminisce and rediscover their creativity while promoting a sense of self and well-being.
Opportunities for creative expression may include:
- Simple Crafts
Activities that involve art are excellent opportunities for residents to share their experiences and interact with staff and other seniors.
#8: Good Nutrition
You may not think about it, but deciding what you want to eat for meals and snacks is a part of self-autonomy. A quality memory care program offers nutrition and choices to allow residents another level of self-sufficiency.
Seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s may often become ‘picky eaters’ as their diagnosis progresses. Some may even suffer from a decline in appetites. This could pose health risks if an individual suffering from a memory disorder does not eat enough or eat nutritionally.
Nutritional programs in quality memory care facilities will prioritize nutrition and choice to ensure that residents maintain their health and sense of self.
Questions To Ask When Considering a Memory Care Facility
Moving into a memory care facility can be difficult for everyone involved.
You want to choose the right facility that will not only meet the basic standards of required care but will also allow you or your loved one to live happy and fulfilled lives.
Questions you may want to ask a facility you are considering include:
- What residential amenities are provided by the facility?
- How often are common areas and rooms sanitized?
- What does an average day for residents look like?
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
- What do mealtimes and nutrition plans look like?
- What are visiting hours?
- What are the credentials of the staff?
- What types of activities and therapies are included in the program?
- How are medical needs and medication distribution handled?
Be sure to include the opinion of your loved ones when deciding which memory care facility is a good fit. Allowing autonomy when making decisions may be beneficial to the transition process.
Senior Services of America: Providing a Holistic Approach to Memory Care
So what should you expect from a memory care facility?
All the above-mentioned components should be present in a quality memory care facility along with a holistic, resident-centered program.
Senior Services of America communities center their memory care programs around the residents, aiming to provide care that prioritizes the quality of living, autonomy, and well-being of our residents.
Many of our facilities provide memory care amenities like:
- Private or companion suites
- Purpose-built common areas
- 24-hour nursing staff
- Secure landscaped outdoor areas
- State-of-the-art life safety and call systems
- Resources, education, and support for family members
Let us help you and your loved ones find a facility that will meet your needs and requirements. Learn more and find a nearby community today.
The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.