If you have a loved one who is suffering through Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, there will come a time when they need professional care and assistance. In many cases, a facility offering memory care services is the best choice.
Memory Care vs. Assisted Living/Nursing Home
Each year, nearly 9.9 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed worldwide. This brings the current total to an estimated 47 million people. But public health officials say we’re only hitting the top of the proverbial iceberg. Trends suggest that the number of people living with dementia, which is an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050.
In an effort to meet the rising demand for elderly individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, senior care facilities have been forced to adapt. It’s become clear that traditional assisted living and nursing home facilities aren’t always enough for those with serious cases of dementia.
In a traditional care facility, security can be an issue. Someone with dementia can easily wander off and get lost, which poses a threat to their safety and the integrity of the facility. Additionally, the care staff may not be trained to handle the specific cognitive impairments of residents with advanced stages of dementia. This can lead to friction between staff, residents, and the residents’ family members.
To meet these evolving demands, some care facilities now offer memory care units that are specifically designed for residents with advanced cases of dementia. They often come in the form of dedicated wings or buildings within a larger nursing home or assisted care facility. These memory care residents benefit from higher caregiver-to-resident staffing (typically around 1:6, versus 1:15), better security, and dementia-specific activities that keep residents engaged.
How to Select the Right Memory Care Facility
If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, memory care is an option worth considering. But with so many different facilities using unique approaches, you’ll have to do some thorough research to find the right memory care community. Here are some factors to consider and evaluate:
Room and Facility Layout
On a very basic level, a good memory care unit has a well designed and optimized physical layout. Unlike rooms in other assisted living facilities, memory care units shouldn’t have individual kitchens for residents. Common areas should be open, yet secure – including outdoor areas that are safe for residents to enjoy without the risk of being able to leave the property.
Memory Care Services
Memory care facilities are designed to care for both the physical and cognitive needs of residents. They should offer services that encourage socialization and engagement. From recreational activities and arts/crafts to targeted therapy that stimulates all of the senses, there should be services designed with dementia residents in mind.
Ratings and Reputation
There may be as many as a dozen senior care facilities with memory care units in your immediate area. It’s important that you take the time to review ratings, read reviews, and research the reputation of each facility to find one that’s well respected and reliable.
Location is extremely important – particularly if loved ones are spread out in different areas of the town, state, or country. Choose a memory care facility that’s convenient for people to visit, otherwise, your loved one runs the risk of being isolated. Because even when they have trouble recognizing you, regular visits are healthy and important.
From a practical perspective, you do have to consider pricing. The cost of memory care can range dramatically from one facility to the next. It’s wise to develop a budget ahead of time so that you know exactly how much you have to spend. From there, you can consider your options and compare facilities within the context of affordability.
Making a Wise Choice
At the end of the day, you have to make the choice that you believe is best for your loved one. While a memory care facility will be more expensive than traditional care, it’s often the best choice for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Take the time to evaluate different options and make a choice that prioritizes your loved one’s physical health and emotional well-being.