When to Make the Move to Memory Care
Deciding if your loved ones need full-time memory care can be challenging. Some older adults may experience forgetfulness or even mild cognitive impairments (MCI) and can still comfortably and safely live independently. But when cognitive impairment worsens or seniors develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is not a normal part of aging.
You may have considered a move to assisted living, which offers seniors a close community and access to personal care services. However, some seniors need more support and specialized services. But how do you decide when full-time memory care is necessary?
What Is Memory Care?
Memory care is designed to support and enhance the lives of residents with cognitive decline or memory loss. There can be multiple reasons seniors may benefit from memory care. Notably, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are 2 common causes of cognitive challenges that memory care programs can help.
Although the activities, amenities, and services can differ, all memory care facilities include:
- 24-hour care & supervision
- Complimentary transportation
- Housekeeping & laundry
- Meal services
- Medication management
- Memory-enhancing activities
- Mobility assistance
- Incontinence care & toileting
- Personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.)
Most memory care programs exist as part of a senior community with multiple levels of care. For example, communities with assisted living and memory care are divided into wings (or neighborhoods). For residents who later transition into a higher level of care, the change can be less intensive.
Memory care programs feature therapy and activities that promote stimulation. Staff develop personalized wellness plans with senior residents and their families. Activities, entertainment, and services are designed to provide security and support well-being.
Additionally, memory care facilities have a lower staff-to-resident ratio. As a result, staff are more available and have more opportunities to personalize interactions.
Signs It’s Time to Move into Full-time Memory Care
You may decide after discussing a mental status exam with a doctor. It’s also okay to trust your gut. Recognizing changes to health, behavior, or care needs are signs a senior may need a more supportive environment.
Full-time memory care may be the best option for seniors when they exhibit challenging behaviors, require better security, or need more specialized care. It can also be necessary to avoid caregiver burnout.
Beginning in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, seniors may have difficulty functioning independently. They may exhibit behavior changes, trouble communicating, or find daily care challenging. As cognitive decline progresses, seniors need caregivers with the training and patience to understand the care they need.
Memory care staff complete specialized training and certifications. Their training improves their ability to recognize and manage challenging behaviors, including:
- Sleep Issues
Safety & Security
The behaviors of middle-to-late-stage cognitive decline can increase the risks of living at home. Memory care can provide enhanced safety and security when loved ones feel they can no longer keep seniors safe and comfortable at home.
Physical dangers, such as falling or wandering, can be a concern. But other harmful behaviors can affect their well-being, such as unexpected weight loss, sundowning, or delusions. Memory care facilities have staff trained to recognize and intervene when behaviors jeopardize a senior’s health.
The amenities and buildings are also designed to help seniors feel more secure. For example, rooms may feature a soothing design to reduce agitation or aggression. In addition, layouts are simplified, and directional cues are emphasized to minimize confusion.
Some layout designs to improve resident safety and comfortable may include:
- Clearly marked or color-coded areas
- Reduced background noise
- Enclosed/gated outdoor spaces
Memory care facilities have 24-hour staff for personal care and security. The facility may also have design elements or technology to improve security, such as:
- Keypad entry
- Obscured exits
- Locked entrances/exits
- Doorbells signaling entering/exiting
Health & Wellness
Physical and mental health is only one part of well-being. Memory care facilities develop personalized wellness programs for every aspect of their well-being, including their need to socialize. Seniors with memory problems can act withdrawn or refuse social events—even avoid activities they love.
Social isolation can worsen symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, avoiding going out or participating decreases physical activity. Yet exercise is crucial for mental health. Some benefits of exercise include:
- Boosting mood
- Preventing chronic illness
- Supporting cognitive function
Memory care staff can encourage participation at a personalized pace. They have the resources and training to give residents their space while still adding a healthy balance of social interaction and various beloved activities.
Caregiver burnout causes physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. The primary caregiver may feel unsupported, isolated, or unappreciated. They may experience declining health or depression. As a result, it can affect the carer’s happiness and health. It also impacts their loved ones.
Full-time memory care offers seniors more support, such as medical care, social activity, or personal care. The move to memory care can be necessary to improve life quality—for seniors and their family caregivers.
Rose Lane for Memory Care
All American Living has developed the Rose Lane Neighborhood for memory care. Our unique community is designed specifically for residents dealing with cognitive challenges. We prioritize structure, security, and comfort so residents can maintain their dignity and feel supported.