For those who are caring for a loved one with dementia, the burden can feel overwhelming. In 2022, 1 in 9 individuals age 65 or over have Alzheimer’s disease; 83% of those caring for them are unpaid family members. Family caregivers are physically and emotionally stressed, reporting depression, anxiety, and increased chronic health conditions. Because of these factors, many caregivers make the difficult choice to search for a safe memory care home community in which their loved ones can receive the care they need.
What is a Memory Care Home?
A memory care home is a special part of a senior living community that provides care and assistance to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of memory loss. These homes are designed to meet the unique needs of these residents, with features like private rooms, security systems, and around-the-clock staffing. They also offer a variety of activities and programs that are designed to stimulate the mind and provide social interaction.
When deciding on a memory care home, the following points can guide your focus in finding the right fit.
Coupled with impaired cognition, many individuals with dementia also tend to wander. A memory care community should be physically secure and provide 24/7 staffing to ensure the safety of its residents. Look for keypad entry at all entrances and exits, a brightly-lit interior layout that allows for safe exploration, and outdoor spaces that are gated.
Beyond the necessary safety measures, the community should look like a home. Comfortable couches and armchairs to rest, shared areas to socialize and participate in activities, and art on the walls create an atmosphere in which your loved one will feel at ease. Areas designed for residents to (safely) participate in activities they enjoyed earlier in life, such as kitchenettes and baby changing stations, provide opportunities for connection and purpose.
Engagement With the Residents
Caring for individuals with dementia requires a special set of skills; the right approach not only facilitates care but puts the person with dementia at ease and reduces their stress. Trained memory care staff are compassionate and will engage in reminiscing with residents, meeting them in the time and place of their perceived reality rather than insisting on bringing them into the present moment.
Reminiscence is key to establishing an environment that feels safe to the residents with impaired cognition, allowing them to feel a connection to the confusing present by way of long-term memories not forgotten (and fundamental to who they are as individuals). Ask about how the staff is trained to work with this special population as well as the types of activities that are offered for stimulation and socialization.
Personalized Memory Care
Like anyone else, those living with dementia are unique and require an approach to care that is tailored to their needs. Inquire about who would be involved in your loved one’s treatment. A care team should ideally include professionals from a range of specialties, including—but not limited to—nursing, social work, psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and recreational therapy. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for providing well-rounded care specific to each resident and the stage of dementia they are in.
Where can your loved one receive the very best in memory care in the Chester County, PA region? Here at The Hickman, our community offers a secure, home-like setting for residents with dementia. Contact us today to schedule a tour.