A memory care facility can lessen the stress of living with dementia for the person and their caregiving family. Here is a quick primer on what you should know about dementia care when choosing a memory care facility.
What is dementia?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “dementia” is an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, vascular dementia, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies and other conditions also cause dementia. The symptoms of dementia often worsen gradually. However, early diagnosis is key to improving quality of life. Medications and non-drug therapies may sometimes help slow the decline from memory loss and improve symptoms.
What is memory care?
Memory care provides necessary health and safety supports for the person with dementia, including assistance with daily activities, personal hygiene and medical management. Therapeutic programs help alleviate frustration, anxiety and loneliness, build connections, and may slow the progression of memory loss. Education and support groups help family members cope with the changes their loved one is going through.
Our Connections Memory Support Services offer dementia care that matches an individual’s needs and addresses common emotional challenges, like frustration, anxiety and loneliness. Brain fitness activities provide fun and intellectual stimulation while customized exercise programs promote balance, stretching, strength and endurance. My Life Story projects enhance connections and relationships by exploring the resident’s interests. Some examples of My Life Story projects include creating a scrapbook and creating artwork .
The best memory care programs are person-centered and treat the individual with respect, skill and patience. Country Meadows Retirement Communities was the first authorized organization in the United States to use the Validation Method. The Validation Method is a philosophy and a practice that meets the disoriented person with dementia in his or her own reality instead of trying to reorient them. By asking open-ended questions and listening empathetically, family members and caregivers can build trust with the person with dementia and reduce anxiety and frustration. When family members use this approach, often they will discover much about their loved one that they did not know, and the person with dementia is more likely to enjoy interacting with others again, too.
When is it time to consider a memory care facility?
Early on, a person with dementia may be able to live independently with support from caregiving family and friends. Daily activities and personal care are generally not significantly affected at this point.
As dementia worsens, caregiving family members may be overwhelmed by the time and effort to care for a loved one, and it may even be detrimental to their own health and relationships. A next step may be for the person with dementia to live in a senior living community that offers dementia care. Staff can act as a personal coach, identifying gradual changes, developing a personalized plan of support and implementing a routine that lets the person continue to live independently until a higher level of care is needed.
When it becomes a challenge to keep the person with dementia safe and healthy without 24-hour care and a secure living environment, a memory care facility can shoulder the burden while providing programs that may add to the quality of life and enhance bonds with loved ones.
For many families, deciding when it is time for a memory care facility for a loved one isn’t easy. They may feel frustration, anxiety, fear, depression and guilt. And they need support, too. If your loved one is experiencing memory loss, take our Memory Quiz for free tips and resources. Also, our booklet, Understanding Dementia’s Effects on Your Loved One and Family can help families understand the changes that are occurring, how to cope with them and how to determine when it is time to seek assistance.
Need help deciding which long-term memory care facility is right for your loved one? The Alzheimer’s Association has a list of questions to ask, covering topics such as family involvement, staffing, programs and services, residents, environment, meals and policies and procedures.
Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus in Frederick, Maryland. Our retirement communities offer a wide range of options including independent living, personal care, assisted living, memory support and restorative care. Over the last 20 years, Connections Memory Support Services has provided care for more than 10,000 people with memory loss. If you would like more information about what to look for in a memory care facility, information on our services or how we can support you or a loved one, please contact us today.