What is memory care for seniors and how does that differ from traditional assisted living? Both help the elderly maintain a satisfactory way of life, but memory care is specialized for those with certain cognitive health conditions.
When elderly people develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you may notice they begin to experience memory loss, delusions, disorientation, sleeplessness, confusion, and agitation. Typically, nursing and assisted living homes can provide an appropriate level of care in the early stages of dementia, but as symptoms progress, these facilities may not have all the necessary resources. If a loved one is dealing with advanced dementia, specialized care may be necessary to ensure safety and comfort. In these cases, a memory care setting may be the best option.
Memory Care Goes Beyond Traditional Assisted Living
Assisted living is a residential solution for elderly people who can no longer live independently, whether because of normal aging or chronic disease. In general, the options for assisted living include retirement housing, group homes, nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, and special care units. At all of these facilities, services and amenities are provided to alleviate the responsibilities of living alone. These accommodations may include opportunities for social interaction, access to transportation, prepared meals, health care, and spiritual services.
Retirement housing and assisted living centers generally do not offer skilled nursing level services. These are great options for those who can still live somewhat independently, but don’t want to manage an entire household. Nursing homes, on the other hand, are regulated by Medicare and provide nursing specific health care services. Even so, these may not have the necessary tailored care options for those with dementia.
While these communal living options may be acceptable for many seniors, people dealing with dementia may have an easier time coping with their health condition in a special care unit. A memory care facility is specifically designed to serve elderly folks suffering from symptoms generally associated with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, such as Lewy Body and Frontotemporal Degeneration. Most memory care units will provide the following to alleviate the daily challenges that accompany advanced stages of these types of diseases:
- Memory care-specific programming
- A relaxed, pleasant environment
- Specially trained staff
- 24-hour resident monitoring
- Activities based on a resident’s past interests and abilities
- Signs and memory aides throughout the facility
- A safe, secure, and simple architectural design (to reduce the risks of wandering)
Determining If a Loved One Needs a Memory Care Facility
Memory care can benefit someone with dementia, but not every senior citizen showing symptoms needs dedicated monitoring. For some with Alzheimer’s, regular assisted living settings may be sufficient for a while since the disease is one that gradually develops over time. At some point, however, 24-hour supervision may become necessary to keep the person safe. Choosing a memory care setting may be a difficult choice to make, but advanced symptoms often require more care than a family member or typical retirement community can provide.
If you find yourself constantly worrying about your loved one’s safety, look for any of the following signs indicating that it might be the right time to move him or her to a memory care unit:
- Extreme memory loss, including forgetting to take medication and names
- Ignoring health issues/not taking care of self
- Skipping meals or repeating meals
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Poor posture and weight changes
- Hoarding or other odd behaviors
- Making strange purchases or mismanaging finances
- An unkempt living environment
In addition to the symptoms displayed by the person with dementia, there are signs a caregiver may notice that suggest a higher level of care is needed. If you or the person providing care experience a drop in health, find that the senior’s needs exceed caregiver abilities, or begin to neglect other important responsibilities, it may be time to look for a memory care facility.
Special Care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
The memory care offering at American Orchards in beautiful Gilbert, Arizona, has been carefully designed to deliver the highest level of care and support for those dealing with dementia. Our community creates a relaxed and therapeutic environment carefully constructed to give elderly residents a place to thrive. Amenities include gardens, water features, natural light, aquariums, skill stations, salon and customized dining experiences. This setting provides an ideal backdrop for the memory care services given to dementia residents.
The approach of our Pathways of Promise program for memory care is founded on an effort to make sure those with dementia keep their dignity and independence while tackling the challenges of their condition. Pathways of Promise addresses four key components of wellness to help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia manage their lifestyle:
- Cognitive function: memory-care activities and events designed to fulfill past interests
- Social interaction: needs-centric home design that groups residents with similar conditions in architectural and color environments that help them succeed together
- Physical health: medication management, overall care and support, exercise and healthy meals
- Spiritual wellbeing: enriching therapy (music, art, physical, pet, and aroma), fitness classes (yoga, strength and balance, etc.), and an onsite sensory room
The care team at American Orchards is composed of registered nurses and certified caregivers who provide 24-hour supervision to our residents. Care services delivered include medication management, transportation, assistance with daily living activities, housekeeping, and laundry. Additional security and safety at our memory care facility are ensured through video monitoring, a sophisticated alarm system, and an advanced resident call system.
Memory Care Support for Family Members
The best dementia care homes will also offer educational and support resources for family members. Although you may not personally be experiencing the confusion, memory loss, and disorientation, watching a loved one struggle through these symptoms can be extremely difficult. If you don’t fully understand what is happening and what to expect from dementia, providing the right support is a huge challenge.
To make this process a bit easier, the memory care program at American Orchards includes access to Alzheimer’s Association support groups and in-facility support programs for family members and close friends. We understand it may be a trying time and do everything we can to make everyone involved more at ease with the situation.
Contact American Orchards for more information about our memory care facility and the specific services we offer to those dealing with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.