What to Look for in a Memory Care Community

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 23, 2021
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When a senior in your family has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, finding ways to safely provide them with the quality of life they deserve can be challenging. Memory loss, for example, might leave you struggling to come up with meaningful activities for them to enjoy throughout the day. Decreased verbal skills can cause you to worry if you are meeting their physical and emotional needs.

Then there are the safety concerns. Being able to monitor a loved one with dementia around the clock is exhausting. This is especially true if they’ve begun to wander away from home, a behavior common among adults with dementia.

These are just a few of the reasons family members often begin to explore memory care communities. If you are thinking about or have already begun your search, we offer the following tips to help you make an informed choice.

What to Consider in the Search for Memory Care

  • What techniques guide the community’s delivery of care?

Caring for an older adult with memory loss is different than other types of senior care. You’ll want to ask questions to make certain you understand what philosophy of care and practice techniques team members are trained to use. For example, is the community an Authorized Validation Organization? Validation is a method proven to motivate seniors with cognitive decline. This approach to care encourages them to communicate more, while also relieving stress and enhancing dignity and happiness. If the community doesn’t use the Validation method, what do they use to train memory care team members?

  • How many residents is each caregiver responsible for?

Along with the memory care community’s philosophy of care, having adequate staffing is also essential. Ask a team member at every community you consider what the ratio of caregivers to residents is during the daytime and overnight hours.

  • Do caregivers have experience and tenure?

Before you make a final decision about a memory care community, be sure you understand how long the average team member has been with the community. Also, ask about the extent of experience most caregivers have. Low staff turnover combined with experience, promotes better continuity of care for residents with memory loss.

  • How does staff get to know a new resident’s unique life story?

It can be heartbreaking and frustrating for families when they feel caregivers aren’t seeing their loved one for the person they are and the life they lived before dementia. Instead, the disease takes center stage. The result can be a loss of self-worth in a senior that the family finds distressing. That’s why it’s important to determine how the memory care community helps new residents successfully transition and works to highlight each resident’s individuality.

  • Are independence and self-esteem nurtured?

Research indicates when a caregiver or loved one does too much for a person with dementia, they unwittingly undermine their self-esteem and sense of independence. The more you do for a senior with memory loss, the less likely they are to attempt tasks on their own. It’s often referred to as creating a dependency support script. Try to find a memory care community that understands how to balance a memory care resident’s safety with their need for self-sufficiency and independence.

  • Is there a thoughtfully designed structure to the day?

Structure is an important part of daily life for someone with dementia-related memory loss. Having a routine to follow is less stressful than trying to follow directions and rely on short-term memory. A structured memory care unit typically offers life enrichment activities and dining services that work with residents’ remaining abilities and avoid accentuating their losses. As you are searching for a care solution, confirm that each community you talk with offers life enrichment activities and dining services that are distinct to memory care residents.

Sunrise Reminiscence® Neighborhoods

At Sunrise communities, we offer a safe and comfortable environment for adults with memory loss. We call them our Reminiscence® Neighborhoods. From the thoughtfully designed footprint of the memory care unit itself to secure outdoor areas, it’s an approach that supports resident success. Call 1-888-434-4648 to learn more today!


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