When a senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, ensuring they live their best quality of life may include moving to a memory care community. While a memory care neighborhood can be part of an assisted living community or other type of senior housing campus, it is a distinct type of care. These programs are specifically designed to support the unique needs of adults with dementia.
If an adult in your family is displaying signs of memory loss and currently resides in assisted living, you might be wondering if they need to move to the memory care area of their community. This is a good question to ask and an important issue to better understand.
How Is Memory Care Different than Assisted Living?
In broad terms, memory care programs combine safety and security with personal care and structured days. It is an environment that promotes meaningful activities for people with dementia by working with their remaining abilities, instead of focusing on what has been lost.
If you are debating whether to keep a family member in their assisted living suite or make a move to memory care, take these factors into consideration:
- Safety and Security: The security of a memory care neighborhood helps reduce the risk that a resident with memory loss will wander away and become lost. For many families, this common behavior is one of the most frightening. And for good reason. Six in ten people who have Alzheimer’s will wander and be unable to find their way home. The longer they are gone, the more likely they are to experience an unfavorable outcome.
- Specialized training: Caregivers who work with memory care residents also undergo specialty training. The goal is to teach team members who work with residents with dementia how to best care for and communicate with them. Many Sunrise team members are specially trained in the Validation Method, which helps team members better connect to residents emotionally.
- Purposeful days: When a person lives with dementia, feeling successful and purposeful isn’t easy to achieve. A benefit of memory care is that life enrichment activities are designed to create meaningful days. This helps residents feel independent and empowered. Activities for adults with memory challenges are different than those found in traditional assisted living. For example, memory care residents often benefit from programs that involve repetitive tasks to soothe agitation or from art therapy, which can be a form of self-expression when verbal communication skills are lost.
- Dedicated dining: While well-balanced meals are a part of both assisted living and memory care, there are usually separate dining programs for these two types of care. In memory care, meals often feature easy-to-consume menu items and protein drinks. This helps residents who may be struggling with dexterity to remain more independent at mealtime. Other best practices include serving food on plates in a contrasting color (making it easier to distinguish the food) and keeping clutter and noise to a minimum to avoid distractions. These strategies encourage residents to remain at the table longer which aids in preventing weight loss.
Learn More About Memory Care Today
Whether your family member lives in a private home or in a senior living community, learning more about their disease and what to do next can ease concerns about their future. What's Next After a Diagnosis? has helpful information for families deciding how to best meet a loved one’s needs.