Memory care is a special level of service in assisted living communities. It's designed for those who are living with dementia, Alzheimer's or other memory-related diagnosis. In many cases, these programs are designed to serve people in all phases of such diseases. Learn more about what memory care is below, how it's different from regular assisted living and why you might choose it for yourself or a loved one.
Not every memory care community is the same, so it's important to check out communities you're interested in and ask questions about the types of service and level of care offered. This is true whether you're considering memory care for yourself in the future or looking for assistance in caring for an older loved one today.
Some common features you can — and should — expect to find in memory care communities can include:
• Caring staff trained to work with people who are dealing with dementia or other memory-related diagnosis. That can include RNs and LPNs as well as social workers, counselors, activity coordinators and aides who provide help with activities of daily living.
• Safe and secure settings that allow people to live as independently as possible while also minimizing the risks associated with issues such as sun downing or wandering.
• Activity calendars full of a variety of activities that allow people with different interests and in various levels of care to interact with others to help reduce isolation and increase social and cognitive function.
• High-quality health and wellness services that help ensure individuals are eating well, getting exercise as appropriate and addressing any other health concerns or diagnoses with medication and other appropriate treatments.
Assisted living and memory care are not the same, as memory care is typically considered a step-up in level of care. While both levels of care should attend to the individual needs of a person, here are some differences you might notice between assisted living and memory care:
• In an assisted living level of care, residents may be allowed to come and go as they please and even drive their own vehicles if they are still licensed drivers and it's safe for them to do so. In a memory care wing, residents are not typically allowed to come and go quite so freely. They may have access to common areas for socialization and even outdoor areas such as enclosed gardens. But staff may be more aware of people's movement, and doors may lock during certain times to discourage wandering, which might be dangerous.
• Assisted living residents typically manage all their own time and even many of their daily needs. For example, in an assisted living level of care, staff might post meal times and let residents know what is available for meals and snacks at various times. But it's often up to residents to decide when they're hungry and want to eat, and they may even decide to eat in their own assisted living apartment with food assembled in their kitchenette. In memory care levels of care, staff may help make these decisions for residents who are no longer able to make them for themselves reliably.
• The activities scheduled for those in assisted living are often about encouraging socialization, mobility and vibrant lifestyles. They may also be predominantly resident-led or even sponsored and hosted by residents who want to lead certain types of activities or groups, including Bible studies, quilting circles or movie nights. Activities may become a partnership between staff and residents in this manner. For memory care, however, staff may be more involved and even assist various residents in participating. Activities may also be more often geared toward supporting cognitive function and reducing isolation.
As with assisted living, memory care can be provided at various levels to meet the needs of each individual resident. Someone who is in the early phases of a memory disease might not need as much assistance as another person who is in a later phase, for example. That makes memory care a potentially good choice for anyone facing this type of diagnosis.
If you or your loved one has had trouble attending to activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing or eating, memory care may be a good option. If the concern is more about isolation and safety because someone can no longer get out on their own and doesn't have someone who can visit on a regular basis to check in, memory care in an assisted living community can help.
If you're worried about a loved one in the Ellisville area and need assistance providing safe, caring care, consider reaching out to us at Autumn View Gardens. We can talk more about what memory care is and how it might be a good fit for your loved one.