It can be tough for a family to decide whether to "place" a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia in memory care. You want to ensure that your elderly loved one has the highest quality of life, but it can be frightening not to know what their days will be like in memory care. You also may have become accustomed to the daily routine you've established for your loved one at home, making you hesitant to let them go.
It is crucial to remember, however, that memory care communities exist for one primary reason: to provide the most satisfying, secure, and positive care possible to people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Let's break down memory care and see what a typical day is like in these wonderful communities. If you have any questions about the information below, I'm just a phone call away (Alisha Jones, 703-878-7870).
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is specialized care for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive impairment, such as dementia. These communities provide a secure setting that is adapted to make living with the disease as comfortable as possible. In memory care, residents live in a 24-hour care environment where their general health and well-being are constantly monitored and cared for.
A variety of cognitive assistance and activities are offered to residents in order to activate their cognitive talents and enable them to continue doing the things they like. Also, the people who work in these communities are professionals who have had specialized training to enable them to help people with memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.
A Typical Day in Memory Care
There are several misconceptions regarding what occurs in a memory care environment. Caregivers are frequently concerned that their loved ones will be lonely or unengaged. Obviously, this assumption is far from reality.
Memory care offers residents with dementia a variety of activities to help them manage their mental health and feel purposeful. The communities are structured for simple navigation and are color-coordinated, even down to the place settings in the dining room, to promote cognitive function. The meal options contain ingredients that are brain-healthy and nutritious. In most memory care communities, significant effort is made to ensure residents are as comfortable as possible.
Here is an example of a typical day that your loved one can expect:
A memory care routine involves a host of services tailored to each resident's specific needs. The majority of the time, residents start the day at a pace comfortable for them, gathering for breakfast whenever they feel ready. Breakfast will consist of a variety of nutritional foods to ensure the health of the residents. Breakfast is often followed by morning exercise, an important part of all types of senior living communities. Residents also have opportunities to participate in other activities, like short hikes, trips, puzzles, and games.
After a morning of leisure, memory care residents will enjoy lunch around noon, when they can choose from a variety of tasty, nutritious foods that support a healthy and balanced diet. This is followed by mind-stimulating afternoon activities, such as an art class, a reading club, or other activities that keep the mind engaged.
While it can differ between communities, dinner is commonly served in a spacious dining area where residents can mingle and enjoy each other's company. Evening activities may consist of board games or a movie. Memory care residents who have already had a full day can choose to opt out of evening activities and return to their rooms to rest.
Prior to deciding on a community, it is advisable to verify what activities are offered, as they can vary from one community to the next. Also, most memory care communities know how important pets are to their residents, so they often bring in small, gentle animals to motivate residents to interact and move around.
What are the benefits of memory care?
Memory care providers urge residents to maintain their independence and follow their passions. This strategy has the potential to improve their cognitive capacities. Additionally, residents have relative control over their day and they are never coerced to participate in community activities. Memory care provides an atmosphere in which people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can live at a comfortable pace and keep their minds as active as possible.
Additionally, memory care communities provide a variety of other services that will help your loved one live a healthier life, such as:
Many memory care communities provide residents with individualized therapeutic sessions, including art, occupational, and pet therapy. With proper therapy, your loved one will learn ways to cope with the loss of cognitive abilities and improve their quality of life.
Coordination of Therapies:
Memory care communities will often organize transportation to and from medical visits and coordinate with healthcare staff to manage prescriptions and schedule appointments for their residents.
As a home caregiver, you will try to manage all of your loved one's needs the best way you can, but there will likely be times when you feel unqualified to provide certain types of care. In memory care, your loved one will be cared for by skilled professionals who are able to recognize problems early on and choose the most appropriate course of action.
Memory Care and Resident independence
Most families arrive at the choice to place a parent or grandparent in memory care after much consideration. It is difficult to watch a loved one gradually lose physical and cognitive abilities as a result of dementia.
However, according to dementia care professionals, placement in a memory care community enhances independence. People with dementia who reside at home will frequently only interact with one or two other individuals each day. They will also have very few activities besides watching television. Their engagement with healthcare providers may be restricted to once per month or even less often.
Yet, in a memory care community, residents have a built-in "social group" of 25 or more individuals. They are socializing with peers and are under the care of trained professionals around the clock, and they have access to various activities throughout the day. The first inclination is to view residence in a memory care community as limiting freedom. However, most families agree that allowing their loved ones to live in a memory care community provided them with more options, enhanced their quality of life, and reduced their reliance on family members.
When to Seek Memory Care Options:
The optimal time to seek memory care options can vary for each individual. When home care is no longer safe or acceptable, specialized care should often be explored. For instance, you may struggle to manage your elderly loved one's frustration and anger or to satisfy their sanitary and hygiene demands. It is important to remember that assistance is available and that you can get helpful guidance on what is best for your particular situation.
Find Memory Care and Assisted Living in Northern Virginia
When you need assistance navigating the difficult process of selecting memory care or assisted living for a senior relative, contact Alisha Jones of Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia
With her experience working with hundreds of families, Alisha provides professional counsel and conducts rigorous research to match your loved one with the most suitable senior living community. She will make sure you have all the information you need to choose a place where your elderly loved ones will be happy and well cared for in their golden years.
For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.