5 Key Considerations When Choosing Memory Care for Seniors

5 Key Considerations When Choosing Memory Care for Seniors

Do you know that concern over memory loss & dementia has grown dramatically in recent years?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, afflicting 5.8 million Americans. The associated memory impairment means they need constant care.

With the difference in facility features and offerings, choosing memory care that fits your loved one’s needs may be challenging. This guide will help you deal with that!

5 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Memory Care Facility

Here are five things to consider when looking for a community with exceptional full-time memory care.

1. Understand your loved one’s needs and priorities

Identify your loved one’s needs, and consider these when looking for a memory care facility.

For example, does your loved one need help with daily activities, such as eating, dressing, or bathing? If so, ask if they offer a dedicated staff who can assist them around the clock.

For loved ones with chronic health conditions requiring close monitoring, inquire about staff members’ experience handling such cases.

The idea is you’d want to find a memory care community without worrying if they have everything they need.

2. Explore amenities and facilities

Memory care communities have different amenities and facilities. Most of these address varying needs, including meal plans, memory-enhancing activities, and fitness programs.

If your loved one has specific requirements, look for a place that can meet those needs. Say your parent requires small, frequent feeding. Ensure the memory care community offers flexible dining hours instead of fixed meals.

Ask a staff member the following questions:

  • What are accommodation types available? Living arrangements can vary from cottages to shared apartments.
  • How are meals served? Are escorts to meals available in case your loved one needs help eating?
  • How many meals or snacks are offered each day?
  • Are wellness and fitness programs offered?
  • What are memory-enhancing and enrichment activities available?

3. Ask questions about staff members

The people who will care for your loved one matter the most in making your decision. A balanced staff-to-patient ratio with 24-hour availability is a good sign of quality care.

Beyond the numbers, ask them:

  • Are staff members trained in dementia-specific practices?
  • What type of dementia techniques does the staff use?
  • How do staff members care for physically aggressive seniors or those with disruptive behaviors?

Training requirements for memory care staff members vary by state. In some communities, all staff members, including kitchen employees and housekeepers, receive dementia care training. Ask the community what training or certification is required and whether nurses receive ongoing training.

4. Learn more about memory care therapies & activities

Tailored memory-enhancing treatments & activities may help improve life quality. According to researchers, these activities can help ward off the cognitive decline that comes with Alzheimer’s disease.

Don’t hesitate to inquire about the community’s different therapies and how they help your loved one. Some standard offerings include:

  • Music therapy – elevates mood, improves overall wellness, and enhances memory recall
  • Art therapy – stimulates the brain, improves communication, and boosts self-expression
  • Aromatherapy – uses soothing scents (e.g., lavender, citrus) to relieve anxiety, enhance sleep quality, and promote activities
  • Occupational therapy – helps your loved one with dementia manage life skills, such as eating or dressing up independently 

It’s good to have a memory care facility that looks nice, but many people forget to consider, “What is my dad or mom going to be doing all day?” So, ensure that the community has activities that fit your loved one’s interests or needs.

Memory care activities may include:

  • Music programs and singalongs
  • Puzzles and board games
  • Painting
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Pet visits
  • Going on outings to parks or community events

5. Pay attention to safety features

Memory care communities often incorporate several safety technologies and features. This can range from motion-sensor technology to secure windows and doors with keypads. These measures are essential to prevent wandering, a common but potentially dangerous behavior in people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Memory care communities include the following safety features:

  • 24-hour supervised care
  • Emergency call buttons
  • Emergency alert systems
  • Keypad entry
  • Interior courtyards for secure wandering

Takeaways

Memories may grow dim, but the need to feel joy, love, and companionship never fades. Choosing the right memory care place ensures that your loved one can live a fully realized life despite the cognitive challenges.

Your community of choice should become your partner for care. Choose the one that can offer individualized care plans. Remember, every senior is unique in terms of their preferences and needs.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.