When a loved one starts to show signs of dementia and cognitive decline, it's difficult and stressful. Memory loss can be frightening and sad for the senior experiencing it and their family, but those with dementia can still live out their golden years happy and full of life — provided they receive the right care for their needs.
Moving a loved one with dementia to a memory care facility can give them the attention and stimulation they need, but how do you find the best one for your senior family member? Start by asking these four questions:
What are your loved one's unique needs?
While a diagnosis may give general guidelines as to how your loved one’s dementia may progress and what sort of care they need, every individual has a different experience with memory loss. Any memory care facility you consider should be able to understand and respond to unique needs. From physical ability to behavior considerations, the care facility’s staff should be able to demonstrate knowledge of and experience with caring for different needs associated with aging and dementia.
What level of care does the facility offer?
Depending on your loved one’s needs, you should look for a facility that offers a variety of care options. All memory care facilities should offer 24-hour supervision, medical monitoring, and help with daily activities. There are alsospecific considerations you should be sure to ask about during the decision process, such as:
Which meals are provided, and what is the quality of those meals? Aging adults, especially those with dementia, may begin to lose their appetites. Varied meals with different colors present on the plate may keep them interested.
What type of training has the staff received?
What are their emergency response procedures?
How often are housekeeping and laundry services provided?
What is the staff-to-resident ratio during the day, night, and on weekends? Having too many different people caring for residents with dementia may be distressing for them, so knowing how many people are on call and how many will be providing personal care is important.
Both you and your loved one should be confident in the level of care and comfort provided by the facility before considering it further.
What sort of activities are offered?
Reports and studies published by Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group link cognitive and physical stimulation to unchanging and even improving cognitive ability in people with dementia, and therefore it’s important that a memory care facility offers a variety of activities that are fun and easy for residents of all ages and cognitive levels. Ask about how often activities are held, residents’ level of freedom, and if people are grouped by cognitive level, which may be more comforting to your loved one.
What are the facilities like?
You may think a familiar setting, such as a comfortable family home, is better for your loved one if they are showing signs or are diagnosed with dementia, but the level of care that must be provided is hard for families or even hired caregivers in a space that is not designed with ease of care in mind. The memory care facility you choose should be as homey as possible to help your loved one transition to living there. Consider asking these questions:
- What type of housing do they offer?
- Do they have private or semi-private rooms and apartments?
- Are memory care buildings laid out in such a way that residents won’t get lost, confused, or anxious?
The experience of living in a memory care facility should be as enjoyable as possible, so pay attention to these details.
The new care needs of your loved one when they begin to show signs of dementia can seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. When you find the right memory care facility, you can be sure that they are receiving the best care possible, and that they can live full lives with the assistance they need.
This blog was originally published on December, 7, 2017, and was last updated on February 24, 2023.