What You Need to Know About… Memory Care
You recently took an assessment to determine the level of care your loved one may need from a senior living community. Your test results show that your loved one may qualify for memory care. This report will go into some detail as to just what that phrase memory care means, what it means for you and your loved one, and what you should be looking for in any senior living community in your loved one’s immediate future.
What Does the Label Memory Care Mean?
The label memory care can be a scary one, but probably not much of a surprise. You’ve most likely noticed memory issues or perhaps even received a diagnosis of early dementia or Alzheimer’s. What it all boils down to is that your loved one’s mental faculties are such that they can no longer care for themselves and their daily tasks properly, and that you and/or other family members don’t have the means to care for them appropriately, either. It also means that, in most cases, what faculties they still possess are deteriorating over time, and that more and more care and assistance will be necessary for the future.
Memory care, therefore, implies long-term care, as more and more assistance with daily life is needed. In most cases, the facility or community chosen is the resident’s final home. That doesn’t mean that all is doom and gloom, however. Specialized communities just for memory care needs exist, and they provide the residents with programs and activities to help them thrive and remain active as long as possible. In most cases, daily activities and therapies are specially designed to assist the residents with their memory issues, while still allowing them to be as independent and individual as they ever were.
What Does Memory Care Mean for YOU?
The search for memory care communities and facilities can mean a fair amount of guilt and distress on the part of you, the one tasked with finding your loved one a placement. You may feel as though you are failing them in some way, or that you haven’t done enough, even when at your wits’ end. This is natural, and we want you to know that we are trying to do everything we can to make this transition as easy and stress-free as we can possibly can.
The long-term aspects of memory care do mean that you are possibly choosing your loved one’s final home. They could remain a resident for years. Your greatest need, then, is to find the one that suits their current needs, while keeping an eye on their future needs. You’ll also have to consider financial obligations – is this community one that we can afford in the long term?
As a memory care resident, your loved one will undoubtedly feel lost and insecure at first. The community should do and allow everything it can to make the transition from their current residence to the community as easy as possible. You may experience a transition, too, especially if you have been acting as caregiver or assistant to them. Your community may set boundaries on visitations and phone calls during this time, to allow them to acclimate without too much stress. You may, however, have to set your own boundaries, such as late – night phone calls, or expectations to come at the drop of a hat whenever your loved one feels they need you. Again, this can cause some guilt or negativity on your part, and on the part of other family members. Remember, your loved one has diminished mental faculties. That diminishment may cause them to make rash or unreasonable decisions. Setting boundaries protect you as much as it does them, and the community they are a part of.
What Does Memory Care Mean for Your Ideal Senior Living Community
The ideal memory care community for your loved one will be one that meets both current and future needs, as we have said. The ideal community will also offer specialized memory care – programs and activities designed to stimulate and preserve the memory as long as possible. Memory care communities need to have trained and caring staff to implement those programs as well as provide the physical daily care your loved one may need.
Another aspect of memory care communities is safety and security. Most will have locked and alarmed doors to the outside of the facility. Some may have locked and alarmed interior doors, as well, to prevent residents from getting into areas where they could come to harm. All will provide round the clock staff to ensure that your loved one gets all the care they need, whenever they need it. Medications and therapies should be administered when necessary and in a timely manner. Resident safety, security, and appropriate care are all of utmost concern to memory care communities.
What Memory Care Means When Choosing the Right Senior Living Community for You and Your Loved One
Choosing the right memory care community for your loved one should include considerations of care, cost, and community. What types of memory care AND physical care does your loved one currently need? Which community provides the most appropriate care to meet those needs? What about long-term costs? Can you be assured that your loved one’s community is affordable for years to come? And the community itself? Does it have the programs, the security measures, the boundaries, that you and your loved one need?
When making that difficult, but ultimately important, decision of WHICH memory care community is right for your loved one, don’t forget to include your own needs. How far away is the facility from your current home? What are their visitation policies? What about “day out” or home visits to allow your loved one to remain active in family life? And what about their boundaries and policies? Are they such that you can live with them?
One last bit of advice from us: You’re not just placing a loved one in a memory care community, YOU are becoming a part of that community, too, by extension. Choose one that serves your loved one, and the entire family, in the best ways possible.