According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease. An estimated 5.4 million Americans age 65 and older currently have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and that number is only expected to increase with the growing aging population.
This means that in the coming years, memory care is going to become an even more important option throughout senior living communities. While it’s common for a family caregiver to provide in-home care to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, more comprehensive memory care can be provided within a facility when in-home care becomes unmanageable.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of people age 65 and older will need long term care at some point in their lives. Along with assisted living communities, memory care facilities are the fastest growing types of residential senior care. Memory care services often involve a combination of assisted living services, like help with daily living activities, but also provide more specialized care, often in a special wing or neighborhood on the campus.
Memory care services are generally provided in a secured area with a staff that is trained in dealing with dementia patients. Another vital service is medication assistance, as those with cognitive issues can easily skip medications or take more than necessary, forgetting they’ve already taken the day’s dosage.
In many memory care facilities, specialized activities and events are also planned to enhance the life of the residents. Sensory stimulation, music and art therapy, along with cognitive, physical and occupational therapies are often part of the memory care services offered.
When researching memory care facilities, it’s important to think about the level of care your loved one requires so you choose a facility that will best meet his or her needs. Here are a few questions to keep in mind or to potentially ask the staff when you’re taking a tour of the facility:
• Is the staff specially trained in memory and dementia care?
• Does the facility accommodate individuals throughout the various stages of dementia?
• What’s the resident-to-staff ratio?
• Is the facility pleasant, clean, and have good lighting? Is it a comfortable and soothing environment?
• Are the buildings and grounds secure? Are deterrents set in place to reduce wandering?
• Is an assessment done to determine the residents’ cognitive function and overall health? If so, how is the assessment repeated regularly?
• Do residents have individualized care plans?
• What types of activities are offered to the residents? Are there things your loved one would enjoy partaking in?