When you think of retirement communities, what probably comes to mind are the commonly talked about options, assisted living and independent living. However, did you know that many retirement communities today offer memory care? Now, for those of you who have never heard of this term before, you might be thinking “What is memory care?” Well, to put it simply, memory care is a specialized, long-term care for older adults with cognitive and memory-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Services Provided In Memory Care Communities
- Private apartment suites that come with an en-suite bathroom
- 24/7 nursing services and security
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Assistance with activities of daily living (ADL)
- 3 meals daily and snacks, all prepared by a team of chefs
- Daily recreational programs and activities such as field trips, fitness classes and games focusing on stimulating mental activity
- A dedicated group of professionally trained team members caring for residents
- Low staff-to-resident ratio for more focused care
What Are Memory Care Communities Like?
They look not much different from assisted living communities. Memory care communities likewise have common dining rooms for residents to eat, fitness centers, activity rooms and gardens.
They place a huge emphasis on the safety of their residents as their cognitive conditions make them more susceptible to injuries or accidents. Thus, all communities feature secure environments– living spaces are specially designed to make it easy for residents to navigate. This includes spacious, color-coded hallways to aid wayfinding as well as calm and secure outdoor spaces to mitigate aggressive behaviors. Walls are also usually curved to prevent disorientation, and sometimes padded to prevent injury. The living spaces utilize soft lighting to prevent overstimulation which may agitate dementia patients. Memory care communities also provide specialized diets to ensure residents get the nutrients they need while consuming foods that are beneficial for brain health and can maintain/boost cognitive function.
How Does It Compare To Other Forms of Long-Term Care?
Although memory care communities are located together with assisted living together in retirement communities, there are some differences between the two as well as in-house care in terms of the features offered. The environment of memory care communities are specially planned to suit the needs of persons with memory problems. Whilst memory care offers skilled nursing care, anti-wandering systems, a specially designed living space and care by people professionally trained to provide memory care, assisted living and in-home care does not offer these. Thus, if your loved one has a cognitive condition, it would be prudent to compare between all available options the breadth of care offered before making a decision.
When To Make Memory Care Communities A New Home
Patients in the early stage of dementia or those whose conditions still permit them to live independently may be better suited for assisted living communities. If the disease progresses or the symptoms worsen (caregivers and family members are struggling to handle it or the patient is now unable to carry out basic daily tasks), it is recommended that they move to memory care instead.