The kind of care that seniors with progressive memory impairments receive in today’s memory care communities can help maintain a high quality of life for residents, even as their cognitive functioning declines. Generally speaking, memory care communities can do this by providing around-the-clock care and assistance from professionals who are specifically trained to care for people with impaired cognition.
Though most communities are built around the same core principles of care, there is enough variation out there to warrant a thorough search of the communities in your area. That being said, there are a few things that you should keep in mind as you begin choosing which community will be right for your loved one.
Know What Your Loved One Needs
Before you do anything else, you should have a good understanding of what your loved one will need from a memory care community. Aside from the near certainty that the memory care communities you call or visit will ask, you will need this information to begin making a list of the most promising communities in your area. The right community is out there; you just need to know exactly what your loved one needs.
Keeping that in mind, you will need to know what level of care your loved one needs. For instance, does your loved one need assistance with his or her personal hygiene? If so, you may want to choose a community with a higher staffing ratio to ensure your loved one can get help when he or she needs it. If your loved one has behavioral issues, you will want to ensure that a community’s staff has been properly trained to deal with those issues.
Properly Valuing a Community’s Location
There is no denying that having your loved one close by can make your life a whole lot easier. So, if you can find a good community that is close to where you live or work, there will be plenty of reasons that that community should earn serious consideration as a viable option. However, even if there is a suitable community nearby, you should still check out other communities that are a little farther away as well. By expanding your search to include communities that are a little farther away, you will have a more comprehensive view about what is out there. If there are better communities, you will be happy that you took the time to look.
Look at the Kind of Activities the Community Offers
One area of service that can really set one community apart from the rest is the quality of their activities program. Though people move into memory care communities for the kind of around-the-clock and comprehensive care that they offer, a good activities program is critical to keeping your loved one mentally and physically engaged each and every day. By ensuring that your loved one will have access to quality activities that you think he or she will actually enjoy, there will be a far greater chance that your loved one will successfully transition into the community.
Bearing all of this in mind, you need to ask about the kind of activities a community offers to its residents, along with how often those activities are conducted. A good way to go about this is to ask for a weekly or monthly schedule of activities that are offered in the community. It is worth noting that many communities bring in musicians and other acts to perform for residents; some communities even schedule off-campus excursions to restaurants, museums, and other points of interest. In any event, there is plenty of evidence out there that demonstrates just how important continued mental and physical activity are for people living in memory care communities.
Evaluate the Safety and Staffing of the Community
Memory care communities are usually secured to help prevent residents from wandering away from the community by accident. Keeping that in mind, you should ask each community about how their community is secured—for instance, is the just the building secured or is the entire premises around the building secure. If your loved one is especially prone to wandering, it can be a relief to know that your loved one will be safe if he or she does wander out of the building, as unlikely as that may be.
In addition to asking about the security of the community, you should also ask about the staffing at each of the communities you are considering for your loved one. In particular, you should ask about the staffing ration during both the day and night, as well as you should ask about whether a nurse will be on duty 24 hours a day. Depending on your loved one’s needs, favorable staffing ratios and the presence of a nurse may be necessary to ensure that your loved one is adequately monitored and attended to in the event he or she requires medical attention.
There are No Substitutes for Visiting a Community
Once you have narrowed your list down to the communities that you think will work best for your loved one, you should schedule visits at each of those communities. As attractive as some communities may be on paper, there really is no way to know whether a community is right for your loved one until you see it for yourself. While you are there, you should be sure to speak with some of the caretakers, try the food, and sit in on an activity or two if you have the time.