How to Evaluate Memory Care for a Loved One with Dementia

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 29, 2019
How to Evaluate Memory Care for a Loved One with Dementia
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When a senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, their family often struggles to determine the best way to care for them. A spouse, who may be coping with health challenges of their own, might not be able to keep up with their partner’s unique needs. Adult children might live far away or be busy with a career and family of their own.

A memory care community can be the solution. These specialized assisted living communities are designed to help adults with dementia maintain their best quality of life at each stage of the disease.

4 Steps for Evaluating a Memory Care Community

Finding a memory care program that provides safety, personal care, and life enrichment for an adult with dementia takes research and in-person visits. Take these four factors into consideration when you are searching for a memory care community:

1. Review licensing and state survey results.

Most memory care programs are part of an assisted living community. These types of communities are licensed at the state level. That means every state has its own regulations for providers to comply with.

You can learn more by visiting your state’s Department of Health or Department of Aging website. Most states publish their rules for assisted living there, and many also post survey results (including complaints from families) online too. If your state doesn’t publish survey results on their website, ask the community for a copy to review. Many keep them in a binder in the lobby or executive director’s office.

2. Visit the communities in person several times.

Survey results shouldn’t be the only criteria you use in your search. Memory care communities can vary greatly from one to another. That’s why it’s important to visit any community you are considering. Visiting more than once is best, if possible.

During your visit, pay close attention to the interaction between team members and residents. Are team members treating residents in kind, respectful ways? Do relationships seem to be positive and friendly?

Also bring a list of questions to ask. You’ll want to include the following:

  • What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
  • How long has the average team member been on board?
  • What is the team member training process like?
  • What type of experience do team members have?
  • Does the dining program make special accommodations to meet the unique needs of people with dementia?

3. Pay close attention to safety protocols and security systems.

One of the most common reasons families explore memory care communities is safety. It can be difficult to keep an adult with dementia safe at home, especially when family members work.

The community should be designed with safety considerations such as:

  • Smoke detectors and fire suppression systems throughout the common areas and resident rooms
  • Electronic security systems that discreetly but effectively keep residents from exiting the community
  • Handrails in hallways and grab bars in bathrooms to lower the risk of falls

4. Ask about life enrichment activities that work with remaining abilities

The hallmark of a quality memory care community is a commitment to helping residents live their best life despite their disease. Through structured days filled with meaningful activities, residents can maintain a feeling of independence.

Engaging in meaningful days also helps protect each resident’s dignity and self-esteem.

When you visit a memory care community, ask for a copy of their life enrichment calendar. You might be able to observe a resident activity or make plans to do so.

Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living

If you are searching for memory care for a friend or loved one, we invite you to schedule a private tour at Sunrise. We’ll be happy to show you around our specially designed Reminiscence neighborhoods for people living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of memory loss. Call us today to schedule a time!

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