Memory Care – Help Along the Journey
Dementia progresses slowly in most people. They lose more than just memories.
They lose the ability to complete many tasks we take for granted — cooking, reading, bathing, dressing, toileting — each one of these gradually slips away.
Author and dementia expert, Tam Cummings, PhD, states in her Becoming Dementia Aware training manual for professional dementia caregivers, that on average the family caregiver has provided care for a decade or more before seeking professional help.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be challenging. Dementia progresses in seven stages, and by Stage 7, the family caregiver can be doing the work of 16 professionals. It is a long journey, but help is available along the way.
How professional Memory Care benefits your loved one and the entire family
Memory Care provides assistance with activities of daily living for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Although Memory Care communities are generally licensed as Assisted Living communities, they are designed to meet the unique needs of residents with memory impairments. Memory Care communities typically offer a higher level of staff support and supervision than other types of Assisted Living communities.
Many Memory Care communities also provide Skilled Nursing care. But unlike traditional Skilled Nursing Facilities, Memory Care communities are typically smaller and offer a homelike, intimate setting. They provide specialized activities and therapies to help residents feel safe and enjoy each day.
You’ll often find unique programming and activities designed to keep residents engaged, calm, and relaxed. Memory Care communities also utilize additional safety features, such as wander-guard systems, to prevent residents from leaving the community unattended.
Memory Care communities not only assume caregiving responsibilities, but many also go beyond it. Excellent memory care communities seek to form partnerships with families to ensure their loved one receives care that is tailored to their background, life experiences and likes and dislikes, as well as tailoring care to the stage of the disease.
Improved quality of life
Professional memory care can improve the quality of life for persons with dementia, particularly if they have reached the stage where they can no longer function at home alone. This stage causes tremendous stress for both the senior and the family.
Memory Care provides a safe and supportive environment and physical health services for seniors with dementia. Memory Care communities also offer a wide range of activities and therapies designed to improve cognitive function and quality of life.
Services that improve, soothe, and engage
Some Memory Care communities offer cognitive stimulation therapy that can improve cognitive function in people with mild to moderate dementia — the early stages of the disease. Cognitive therapy can help slow the disease progression.
Other activities, such as arts and crafts, can help seniors stay engaged and act to soothe fears and anxiety that often accompany dementia.
Some Memory Care communities provide transportation services to doctor appointments or for a variety of outings that keep residents engaged in the world beyond the community. This service also relieves the family of the stress associated with taking time away from work or childcare responsibilities to provide needed transportation.
Improved safety and security
Seniors with dementia sometimes wander, which puts them at risk for getting lost or injured. Memory Care communities install safety and security systems as a primary feature to ensure that residents remain safely inside the community. You can expect to see secure-access locked doors, security cameras, and emergency call systems when visiting a Memory Care community.
Family peace of mind
Trained staff members can expertly manage wandering and other unusual behaviors associated with dementia. They work with families as well, to provide tips on best practices for interacting with their loved ones during visits. This not only helps families enjoy the visit, it gives them peace of mind knowing that their loved one is well cared for by professionals.
Specialized activities and therapies
High-quality Memory Care communities offer specialized activities and therapies designed to improve cognitive function and quality of life for those with mild to moderate dementia. These can include:
Cognitive stimulation therapy: This therapy is designed to engage the mind and slow the progression of the disease. Activities may include puzzles, brainteasers, and memory games.
Art therapy: Art therapy can help seniors express themselves and calm their emotions. Activities may include painting, drawing, and sculpting.
Music therapy: Music therapy can improve mood, reduce stress, stimulate cognitive function, and bring joy to residents. Activities may include singing, playing instruments, and listening to music.
Reminiscence therapy: This type of therapy uses music, photos, and other stimuli to trigger memories and emotions. It can be a powerful way to connect with loved ones in dementia care.
Memory Care communities provide a warm and nurturing environment where seniors can receive the compassionate care they need. Professional caregivers are specifically trained to manage the unique behaviors presented by persons with dementia, and they are equipped to provide physical and emotional support. Professional caregivers have a true compassionate heart for their residents. They understand the toll that dementia takes on the loved one as well as on the family, and they seek to partner with family members to ensure that the care provided meets the needs of the resident as well as the expectations of the family.
Choosing a Memory Care community
Moving a loved one into a Memory Care community can be an emotional roller coaster. There are many factors to consider, from the level of care offered, to the community’s location and amenities. Here are a few tips to help you get started in making the choice that best fits your loved one’s needs as well as the needs of your family:
Consider the level of care your loved one needs.
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers nine common forms of brain loss diseases. Alzheimer’s Disease is one form of dementia. Vascular dementia, which is caused by stroke damage in the brain, is another. Getting a definitive diagnosis of the type of dementia your loved one has will help you greatly in your search. It will also help to know which stage of the disease your loved one is in.
Memory Care communities offer a range of services, from basic assistance with activities of daily living to around-the-clock nursing care. Choosing a community that can provide the level of care your loved one needs is a primary goal.
Think about location.
A Memory Care community should be located in a safe neighborhood with easy access to transportation and medical facilities. If your loved one has specific preferences, such as being near family or nature, make sure the community you choose can accommodate those wishes. You also want to consider the distance from your home, work, or other locations where you spend the majority of your time. Convenience can dramatically affect your ability to visit at any given time of day and how often you will be able to visit.
Ask about activities and amenities.
Most Memory Care communities offer a variety of activities and amenities designed to promote socialization, keep residents calm, and help them enjoy the day. Find out what types of activities are offered and whether they’re tailored to the interests of your loved one. Ask about the community’s security features and whether pets are allowed.
Choosing Memory Care for your loved one takes time, research, and careful consideration. The more you understand your loved one’s dementia and the stage of the disease, along with knowing their needs and preferences, the more successful you will be in finding a community that will provide the best fit in support and care.
Levels of care offered by Memory Care communities
Memory Care communities offer Assisted Living care, Skilled Nursing care, and Hospice care.
Assisted Living care covers help with the activities of daily living — bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, and assistance with mobility. Assisted living care can include transportation as well as amenities that increase the quality of life.
Skilled Nursing care is provided by licensed nurses and certified nurse assistants who have experience working with patients with dementia symptoms and the 24/7 care required for persons with later-stage dementia. Skilled Nursing care can include administering medication, providing wound care, and assisting with activities of daily living.
Hospice care is palliative care, a type of care that emphasizes keeping the patient safe and comfortable. It is typically provided by caregivers who are trained to work with terminally ill patients. Palliative care can provide pain relief, manage symptoms, and offer emotional support to the patient as well as to family members.
Supporting a loved one in Memory Care
Dementia can make a loved one difficult to live with, especially as the disease progresses. Emotional drain and caregiver burnout convince most caregivers, at some point, to seek help. Even after you make the decision to place a loved one in a Memory Care community, your role as caregiver will continue. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your new role as a secondary caregiver:
Continue to be involved in their care.
Memory Care communities offer a higher level of care than Assisted Living communities. In most cases, residents receive 24-hour supervision and assistance with activities of daily living. However, it is still vital for family members to be involved in their personal care. Be sure to attend doctor’s appointments and regularly meet with the care staff. The more you interact with staff as partners in care, the more likely you will see good results.
Just because your loved one lives in a Memory Care community does not mean you have to disconnect from their life. Stay in touch through phone calls, emails, letters, and visits. These connections will be meaningful even as your loved one’s dementia progresses.
Advocate for their needs.
Your loved one may need more help than the Memory Care community can provide as the disease progresses. If this is the case, you must advocate for their needs. It may include working with the staff to create a personalized care plan or arranging for additional health services.
The Club: Compassionate Care For Those With Memory Loss
At The Club at Boynton Beach, care for persons with dementia includes providing a nurturing environment that is respectful, calm, and comfortable. These qualities form the foundation of our care. The Club helps families care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in a personalized way to ensure we meet each resident’s specific needs and preferences.
Contact us today to learn more about our compassionate care and the amenities we provide to make life enjoyable for your loved one.