Dementia memory care is a package deal that includes housing and 24/7 care for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll find that memory care facilities are uniquely designed with quality care in mind. Memory care communities are safe places that aim to improve quality of life, reduce confusion, and prevent wandering. This is only a short description of what memory care entails. For more information, click here.
This post is focused on how to find the best dementia memory care facility. We’ll provide our best tips for this below.
How to Choose a Dementia Memory Care Facility
You might feel overwhelmed by all the different options for memory care facilities for your loved one. Services and amenities can vary drastically depending on the specific community, so how do you begin to search?
Start by looking at your parent’s specific needs and preferences. For instance, if your loved one has the habit of wandering a lot, safety will be a key concern. Or suppose they have the habit of engaging in combative behavior with others. In that case, it will be important to know what the company’s policies are in managing aggressive dementia-related behavior.
Start Your Search Online
For many different reasons, starting a search for a memory care facility in person can be too difficult. These days especially, it seems that most searches begin online. The internet is also an excellent place to find information about which facilities are licensed in your area.
Here are some resources that you can use to find licensed facilities:
- Your local Department of Social Services
- Your state Department of Social Services
- Eldercare Locator
Both memory care and assisted living facilities are usually regulated by state agencies. Therefore, it’s the state agencies that maintain the full lists of licensed facilities. All of the listed facilities are regulated and therefore abide by the standards set by the state agency.
Also, Search in Person
In the end, one of the best ways to gauge the quality of a memory care community is to visit it yourself for at least one day. That way, you will see what a typical day looks like in the community. You’ll also have opportunities to do the following:
- Check out the layout of the building
- See how the staff interact with residents
- Experience the dining area and taste the food quality yourself.
- Participate in activities
- Speak with the other residents
However, these days with COVID-19, many communities are more than happy to provide virtual tours if an in-person visit is impossible.
Remember that as you explore new communities, jot down important questions and ask them at every opportunity you can. This will help you decide if a community is right for your loved one. Also, before you visit, make a list of questions to ask. Questions to ask can range from staff training, safety features, and of course, amenities.
If you’re stuck on questions to ask, the next few sections should help.
Dementia Memory Care Facility Layout
As you walk around the facility, take note of the facility’s layout and how it feels to traverse. Most Alzheimer’s care facilities are made to look and feel like home. The floor plans are simple, and the facility should be easy to navigate. Exits, entrances, and different rooms are labeled and marked very clearly. Some communities also soundproof their walls, which is an effective way to reduce agitation and confusion in residents.
When you’re touring these different communities, keep a lookout for these features and keep the above points in mind. A good building layout can make your loved one’s transition into memory care so much easier.
Seniors with cognitive impairment must receive adequate attention and care from staff throughout the day. Experienced staff who understand dementia behaviors and how to address them correctly can make all the difference in the world for your loved one’s quality of life at the memory care facility.
As you look into your area’s memory care facilities, try to find out about the staff’s training and their experience with caring for dementia memory care patients. Questions to ask for measuring quality and expertise include:
- How are certain occurrences like combative behavior addressed?
- What kind of training does the staff receive?
- Are the facility and the staff who work there accredited and certified?
- What programs and activities are offered to residents?
- A key question to ask is – what is the staff-to-resident ratio?
Amenities and Activities
Many memory care facilities will tote a “person-centered approach” to memory care. In practice, what this means is that the care will be personalized to support an individual’s needs. Many communities offer this kind of service. Instead of the same template of programs and activities for everyone, residents get to pick and choose what to fill their daily schedule with based on their own needs and desires.
It would help if you also understood how dementia care plans are created, so be sure to ask these questions:
- How often can an individual care plan be updated? This is an important question because as dementia progresses, the needs of an individual will change.
- Do the staff spend time getting to know the residents?
- When creating the activity plan, is a resident’s cognitive level and personal interests taken into account?
Safety is one of the most crucial elements of memory care. But, every memory care community has its own way of enforcing safety protocols. Different tools and technology are often used to achieve the same end: ensuring residents’ safety and well-being.
So during your tour, think about these safety factors:
- How easy is it to access the spaces?
- How well-lit are the hallways?
- Are emergency buttons present in locations where it makes sense (such as private rooms)? These are important in case a resident falls or requires assistance.
- Are the doorframes wide enough for wheelchair access?
- Are handrails present?
- What kind of security does the facility use? Are the exits and entrances secured? Are the outdoor areas enclosed to prevent seniors from wandering too far and getting lost?