What is Memory Care? 



About seven in 10 adults over 65 will require long-term care at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all residents of long-term care facilities live with cognitive impairment. 

The large population of seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia in long-term care communities may in part be due to the challenge of managing the condition. When a senior starts experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, many families realize that it’s in their loved one’s best interest to seek out memory care. Due to the symptoms that accompany memory loss, continuing to live at home without professional help can become unhealthy and unsafe for some seniors. 

Memory care communities provide a safe alternative for seniors living with memory impairment. These facilities are staffed by professionals who are specifically trained to provide care to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, and are designed to accommodate older adults with progressive cognitive disorders. This guide will provide more detail about memory care to help caregivers and family members better understand what memory care is and how to choose the community. 

What Is Memory Care?

A memory care community is a residential care facility or unit of a residential care facility that is designed specifically to meet the needs of people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Memory care communities strive to provide residents with a high quality of life while taking additional measures to ensure their safety. There may be security measures in place to ensure that residents do not wander, for example, and some units are locked so that no one may leave or enter.

Memory care facilities may also give you the option of specialized care to help your aging loved one manage their medications and healthcare. These facilities care not just for individuals’ medical needs, however. They also frequently offer opportunities to socialize or engage in hobbies in ways that work best for people with impaired memories. Some communities may offer pleasurable activities, such as visits from therapy pets, musical entertainment, or the opportunity to spend time in the gardens, that are known to be particularly beneficial for people living with cognitive changes.

What Are the Benefits of Memory Care?

Memory care offers seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s numerous benefits, including cognitive stimulation, emergency monitoring, and support from specially-trained staff. This can lead to other benefits like a higher quality of life, less use of antipsychotic medications, and improved medical care for other health issues. Some of the most prominent benefits of memory care are explained in more detail below. 

  • Care Coordination: Your loved one’s team will work together, including your aging parent as appropriate, to ensure comprehensive care.

  • Staff Knowledge and Competency: The staff can demonstrate training and the necessary skill set to prepare them to work with people who have cognitive impairments.

  • Activity Programming Based on Abilities: Activities are available that suit your aging loved one’s cognitive ability, memory, attention span, language, reasoning ability, and physical function.

  • Behavior Management: The behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are addressed first through non-pharmacological means, such as taking a look at scheduling, environment, and other possible triggers for the behavior.

  • Safe and Supportive Physical Environment: The physical environment is managed by the staff to reduce stress and overstimulation, and to keep all residents safe.

How Does Memory Care Compare to Other Senior Care Options?

Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Assisted living is a long-term living option designed for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Residents of assisted living communities live as independently as they’re able, but with the knowledge that helping hands are never too far away. 

Assisted living communities have trained employees on-site around-the-clock to help residents with their ADLs. However, these employees are typically not trained to care for seniors with memory loss, and ALFs do not offer the specialized medical care and safety measures in place at memory care facilities. Additionally, because people with dementia and other memory problems typically require more extensive, specialized care than other older adults, memory care facilities tend to be pricier than assisted living facilities. 

Memory Care vs. Nursing Home Care

Nursing homes offer a more intensive level of medical care than any other type of senior living. People living in nursing homes are typically less able to live independently or care for themselves than people who can live in an assisted living facility, and the available services reflect this. But the high-level of care offered at nursing homes is typically more focused on medical care rather than memory care. Those living with memory impairment may not be able to receive the personalized attention and cognitive stimulation that they need in a nursing home setting. 

As with assisted living facilities, some but not all nursing homes may have a special memory care unit or have trained memory care staff. No matter which type of senior care facility you’re looking into, it’s important to ask about staff members’ level of memory care knowledge and training if you have an aging parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.


-Article provided by Caring.com


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