Almost 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with dementia each year. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates about 5.8 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. While some people living with dementia are cared for by family members, many require the specialized care of an assisted living program that specializes in memory care. So we’ve created a list of five quick things you should know about memory care to help you make the best decision for your loved one.
- Memory Care vs. Assisted living — While many senior living communities feature memory care units or wings, the levels of independence and care vary significantly between the two. For example, in many states, personal care residents are allowed to tend to their medications, or use a kitchenette that is available in their apartment. A memory care patient is not able to self-medicate, and memory care units do not include kitchenettes or other appliances that could pose a safety hazard to those living with dementia. Memory care facilities also provide more structure around daily activities and schedules than an assisted living space. Having a routine schedule is vital for persons living with dementia, where residents in assisted living properties are mostly able to determine their schedules.
- Staffing — Memory care facilities not only have a lower staff-to-resident ratio, but staff often receives a higher level of specialized nursing training to care for those living with dementia properly. This care includes cognitive therapies, medical assistance, and assistance with daily activities. Due to this lower ratio and a heightened level of care, these communities are often smaller than traditional assisted living units. The smaller size allows for more focused activities and around-the-clock care.
- Specially designed facilities — Memory care facilities are designed around the needs of persons living with dementia. At Maggie’s Place, residents can stroll down our common “Main Street” where they can explore sensory gardens, a walking path with benches, water features, and other gathering places. Many memory care homes are smaller, with more structured floor plans than assisted living facilities to prevent residents from becoming overwhelmed or confused. In addition to secured or alarmed doors, many facilities use keypad entrances for families and staff.
- Costs — Any caregiver looking into memory care will notice the cost, which is significantly higher than a traditional assisted living facility. The additional cost is due to the highly trained staff specializing in caring for those with dementia and higher staff-to-resident ratios mentioned above. In addition to the greater staffing needs, memory care facilities require the same licensure and registration requirements as assisted living facilities, as well as additional regulations to ensure high-quality care for those with dementia. All of this is designed to meet the needs of those with dementia. These features help increase safety by promoting familiarity and reducing confusion.
- More than just care for your loved one — Memory care eliminates worry and anxiety for the family of those with dementia, who otherwise might be struggling to provide care between work and family responsibilities. Knowing your loved one is receiving highly specialized care, 24-hours a day can provide peace of mind for loved ones. Many facilities also offer family support through speakers and education, as well as designated family activities. Memory care professionals are not only there for the residents, but also as a support system for family and caregivers
If you have a question about Maggie’s Place or memory care, please contact us here.