What do I look for in a Memory Care community?

This post, sharing tips on how to find a memory care community that fits your loved one’s personalized needs, is part of a series exploring the different questions that come up when searching for senior living solutions. Follow along in our “What is Senior Living?” series to learn more about the ins and outs of senior living.

What to look for in a memory care community?

If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia, you may have a lot of questions. One of which may be, should my loved one be in a care community? What type of care does he/she need? Or perhaps…

What is memory care?

A Memory Care is a residential community with care services specifically designed to meet the needs of seniors experiencing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other related dementias.  In many states, the category of memory care is a licensed or endorsement that recognizes the care community is prepared to work with residents that exhibit the symptoms of a dementia diagnosis.

What is dementia?

Dementia is often progressive

The general term of dementia is given to diagnosis of the loss of cognitive functioning which means the loss of the ability for thinking, remembering, or even reasoning. While dementia is most commonly diagnosed in seniors, it is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common types of dementia, but there are several types of dementia including Lewy body dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Huntington’s disease, for example.

Many types of dementia are progressive which means that the symptoms may start out slowly but then gradually get worse. While there is no known cure or even a set treatment to slow the progression of dementia, early diagnosis, and the beginning of treatments can help to minimize symptoms and further the quality of life of someone with a dementia diagnosis.

How can a memory care help?

Those with a dementia diagnosis may benefit from moving into an environment with compassionate, trained team members experienced in minimizing the symptoms of dementia; which provides consistent care and engagement; and, that allows residents to safely engage in life. A memory care community may help minimize the symptoms and frustrations of living with cognitive decline, which in turn, can improve the overall quality of life.

Four things to look for in a memory care community: 1) License or endorsement, 2) Individualized plans, 3) Community building and activity design, and 4) Ability to meet the needs of different stages of the disease.

What to look for in a Memory Care community?

When searching for a senior care community for a loved one with a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Does the community have the official status of Memory Care community from the state? Some states require Memory Care endorsements while others have specific licensing for memory care. In states without such qualifications, look for things such as a secured community and a focus on dementia training.
  2. Does the community have a plan for changes in symptoms? Because dementia is progressive, the needs identified at the beginning of a move-in process may vary greatly from the needs needed later. Most communities offer regular check-ins, however, does the community have a plan if needs change before the regularly scheduled check-in?
  3. Is the community designed for those dealing with cognitive decline? Does the community have security features that help prevent wandering? Is there the ability for residents to still go outside if they wish? Are there activities in place designed for varying levels of memory loss?
  4. Is the community prepared to meet the ever-changing needs of dementia progression? Explore the capability of the memory care community that you are exploring to deal with the progression of the disease. Are all residents treated the same, or are there varying activities and plans in place for those in different levels of progression? Communities that can individualize care will likely be better at dealing with the varying symptoms of dementia progression.

At Radiant Senior Living communities we emphasize the importance of personalized care services based on individualized needs. We incorporate the latest advances in building design and care philosophies in order to minimize the impact of our residents’ symptoms, enabling them to live comfortably and securely.

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