Health Care

A memory care community checklist

October 31, 2019
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Ben Leavell. Courtesy Sunset Retirement Communities & Services

No one should have to care for a loved one with dementia alone. But finding someone you can trust to keep your loved one safe, while still providing a meaningful life can be difficult.

When you start looking for memory care support for your loved one, the process often can feel hurried and complicated. In addition to finding a new home that your loved one will enjoy and where he or she is comfortable, it also needs to offer the right level of staff expertise and engaging programs. While all memory care communities are designed to cater to those living with dementia, each community is very different. Here are several factors you should ask questions about when researching memory care communities.

Consultations

Are they free? If not, they should be. Personal, one-to-one meetings with care counselors and facility leadership provide answers to your pressing questions and give you an introduction to the memory care facility and all that it has to offer.

Common spaces

Open, friendly common spaces, spacious living and dining rooms, as well as outdoor courtyards, help your loved ones feel welcome and comfortable in their new home.

Staffing ratio

A memory care facility should have enough staff members to care for their residents individually without feeling rushed. During the day and through the night, your loved one should feel safe and know someone is there to assist them no matter the time of day.

Staff training

Each staff member of a memory care facility must receive ample amounts of training in dementia care, so they can adequately serve your loved ones. Recreational therapy staff also should be specially trained in dementia care and provide purposeful life-enriching activities that engage the mind, body and spirit.

Cognitive programming

SAIDO Learning exercises are shown to slow the progression and even reverse symptoms of dementia. SAIDO Learning is one thing that can set a community apart. Montessori, music, learning, exercise and spiritual programming also are beneficial.

Sensory rooms

Private, sensory spaces offer relaxation and low stimulation for those who thrive in quiet places and activities. Specialized sensory environments may be beneficial if your loved one requires a peaceful retreat during the bustling activity during the day.

Tailored living

A facility should focus on residents’ abilities, not their deficits. One way to do this is by offering a variety of leisure and hobby activities while maintaining the residents’ natural sleeping patterns.

Private rooms

Private rooms or homes with personal bathrooms and showers allow residents to feel comfortable and safe.

Meals and dining

Delicious meals, including healthy brain diets and a menu that changes frequently, should be accessible to all residents. Food options not only feed residents’ stomachs but fuel their minds. It is important to have a variety of meal offerings for residents, as appetites often can diminish during the dementia process.

Security

A memory care facility should use reliable and advanced door access controls and video systems to ensure resident safety.

We know that stepping into the caregiver role can be demanding, but you don’t need to go through it alone. Gaining knowledge will help you feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed in deciding on which memory care community might be best for your loved one. Doing your research, frequently asking questions and comparing your options can better prepare you and your family for the next stage of life.