What should I look for in a memory care facility?

When choosing a memory care facility, don’t just look at the big picture. Pay attention to the details and make sure your loved one will be cared for in every aspect of their everyday life.

When caring for loved ones facing dementia or memory loss, it can be tempting to look at the big picture only. Will they be safe? Will they be clean? Will they remain physically healthy and as happy as possible?

These are all important questions to ask when looking at the care a loved one will receive when diagnosed with a memory disorder. But it’s also important to make sure the memory care facility you are considering focuses on the individual details that will aid in well-rounded care.

Details matter. Here are some of the specific care elements you should consider when choosing a memory care facility for aging adults.

Layout and Design

The design of an assisted living community should make it easy for residents to find their way around on their own for as long as possible. The layout should optimize wayfinding, ensure safety and create freedom. Wide hallways, creative labeling, and naming of hallways and sections, bold colors and shapes can all contribute to a safe and vibrant community.

Sliding doors over swinging doors add an extra element of safety, and soft amber lighting over areas such as the restroom can trigger memory and make it easier for patients to locate a spot over and over.

An Understanding Staff

A staff that is not only trained and certified to care for those with memory problems, but who are also sympathetic, caring, and engaging is key when it comes to creating a positive environment for those with Alzheimer's or dementia. Looking at certifications and qualifications is important, but it’s also vital to look at the details of their behaviors and attitudes toward their patients.

It’s important that caregivers know when to just go with the flow and when to encourage a resident to try to remember. There will be times when it’s best to go along with an idea even though it’s obviously wrong, and times when it’s best to redirect and distract them. Treating your loved one like a resident and not just a patient can have a huge impact on their overall well-being, and you want to work with a staff you like and can trust.

Peace and Stability

A memory care facility that can manage any type of memory care can be beneficial as the needs of your loved one change. Things can become unfamiliar and scary as memories begin to fade, but being in a familiar environment and surrounded by friends can keep patients in good spirits and often slow the progression of the disease. When a facility supports all stages from independent living, to minimum care to advanced memory care, it can make sure your loved one is getting the best care, right from the beginning and they won’t be jarred by sudden moves, changes in staff or location.

A part of this stability comes from a peaceful living environment. Alarms should be as silent as possible to avoid distressing patients, and all areas of the facility should be designed with peace in mind. Fireplaces, pianos, patios and plenty of sunlit areas can all add to a feeling of peace and contentment and help keep patients calm no matter their stage.

An Active Social Life

When memory patients are at home being cared for by a loved one, it can be easy to create a bubble and cut off the outside world. But, maintaining an active social life is key to making sure they feel like belong. Even if they don’t participate in activities or conversation, just being surrounded by it, listening, thinking and reacting will activate and stimulate certain areas of the brain. Organized activities and an active community help make sure patients stay involved and maintain a social life.

Social time is also a great time to promote activities and games that build memory muscle, keep brains active and renew remaining capacities for memory.