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What is a Memory Care Facility?

Housing | August 1, 2023

A care provider talking with a senior at a memory care facility.

Nearly 10% of American adults age 65 and older have dementia according to a study from Columbia University. In addition, another 22% suffer from mild cognitive impairment. Simply put, the need for specialized senior living has grown for people suffering from memory loss and other related issues.

While there are many senior living options out there, these seniors need a place that can keep them safe and provide specialized care. If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or some other loss of cognitive functioning, it may be time to consider whether memory care is the right place for them.

What Makes Memory Care Different than Other Senior Living Options

In general, all senior living options are meant to give seniors a place where they can live out their ideal lifestyle and receive the care they need. The key difference between each option is the level of care provided for its residents. 

An independent living community is best for seniors who want to live an active lifestyle without the hassle of home maintenance. Assisted living is similar, but it provides seniors daily care to help them manage everyday activities. A traditional nursing home provides long-term care with full-time monitoring and medical help. And finally, memory care is specifically designed to provide personal care for people with dementia and other forms of memory loss.

Like other senior living options, the professionals at a memory care community will help residents with personal care tasks and daily support. The major difference is that these caregivers are specially trained in the disease progression of dementia and other organic brain diseases and are able to navigate the changing behaviors as needs that arise. Memory care communities are often accredited and professionals are trained and certified to provide this specialized care.

These types of communities are thoughtfully and intentionally designed to meet the needs of a constantly changing brain. As an individual progresses through their disease process (i.e., dementia, Alzheimer’s), you will find that these specialized memory care communities have modified their settings.

  • Given the times; more and less stimulation when needed 
  • Soft music
  • Therapeutic programs
  • Added safety measures; secure settings with secure doors, secure outdoor settings, 
  • Individualized/ group-specific activities 
  • Fluid calendars
  • Ongoing caregiver training

The Benefits of Memory Care Services

As you may expect, specialized care and living spaces can help increase the quality of life for residents living with various forms of dementia and their families. These differences have a direct impact on residents – and can also give family members peace of mind that their loved ones are in the right places. Common benefits of memory care include:

  • Increased safety in a secure environment that prevents wandering.
  • Personalized care and accommodations for seniors in both early stages and late stages of dementia.
  • Special therapies and environments to reduce confusion and improve quality of life.
  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).
  • Regular social activities, meals, and other amenities to help residents live their ideal lifestyle, develop new interests, and rekindle social skills.
  • Possible coordinated medical care with other senior health services (depending on the community).
  • Personal benefits for residents, such as helping residents feel less anxious, remain alert, and increase attention span.

How to Tell if a Memory Care Facility is Right for My Loved One

Memory care is designed to help seniors with dementia reach their highest level of wellbeing, but it isn’t always easy to tell if your loved ones are ready for this type of care. It can be difficult to tell if occasional forgetfulness is actually an early sign of memory problems. However, spotting these signs can make a massive difference in your search for senior living.

Whether your loved one lives in their own home or in an assisted living community, it’s important to know the signs that it might be time for them to move into a memory care facility. These signs can include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as mood swings, aggressive outbursts, and agitation.
  • A sudden decline in memory and attention span.
  • A tendency to wander off or get lost.
  • Regular confusion over people, things, or events that were normal parts of their life.
  • They don’t recognize people or names that they did in the past.
  • They repeat the same questions or talking points constantly.
  • They’ve changed their eating habits or have developed worse hygiene over time.
  • They don’t participate in group activities as easily as in the past or are more likely to isolate themselves.

There are also occasions where a senior may have already been diagnosed with dementia, but it’s getting increasingly harder to take care of them. Being a caretaker for someone with dementia can be incredibly draining and lead to burnout. If you notice any of the following signs, memory care may be the best solution for you and your loved one.

  • Managing your loved one’s mood swings, agitation, and other dementia-related behaviors is overwhelming.
  • You’re actively suffering from caregiver burnout and worried about your own mental health and emotional wellbeing.
  • You aren’t able to prevent your loved one from wandering and are actively worried about their safety.
  • You can’t make changes to your loved one’s home to prevent accidents.
  • Your relative’s hygiene or eating habits are actively getting worse.
  • You can’t manage your loved one’s medications or are worried that they’ll take the wrong medication.

How to Find the Right Memory Care Community

Even after it’s clear that memory care is the right option for your loved one, you still need to find the right community for them. There are plenty of communities across the country, but it’s important to find the right one for you and your loved one’s needs. Make sure to look into and evaluate the memory care community:

  • Dementia care plans and approach.
  • Memory care programs and activities.
  • Accreditations and staff expertise.
  • Safety features and building layout.
  • Procedures for how specific situations are handled.
  • Dining options and other amenities. 

You’ll also need to prioritize which factors matter most to you. For example, someone who stays isolated from others may need a friendly staff and more social opportunities. Other seniors may prioritize safety features and other options. Every situation is different, so don’t be afraid to take your time and ask questions.

If you’re trying to find the right memory care facility, National Church Residences is here to help. We take an individual approach to help our residents reach their highest level of wellness and enhance their quality of life. Use our online community finder to find a community that offers memory care near you.

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