February 26, 2021
Critical Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Memory Care CommunityMemory Care
When a loved one struggles with the mental, emotional and physical challenges of memory decline associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s not uncommon for the family to seek out support for providing the utmost in care and attention. Given the many memory care communities available, as well as the magnitude of this decision, it’s no wonder many of these families feel stressed and overwhelmed over the decision-making process.
As you embark on this journey, the decision will become a very personal one, guided by your own sense of what’s best for the senior in your life. To make sure you and your family are making the right choice for your loved one, there are several important questions to ask as you examine each option. Consider these questions carefully as you collect the answers you need to make an informed decision.
How does the community define its approach to memory care?
It will be vital to get a sense of how each memory care community approaches the entire process of tending to and nurturing residents. What is their mission, and how do they plan to make your loved one’s experience the most comforting, positive one possible?
Some of the most well-loved communities in the memory care space are those that emphasize person-centered care, taking a very individualized and personal approach to each resident. These are the communities that foster meaningful relationships and work hard to promote dignity and respect for each senior facing memory decline.
Remember, this will be your loved one’s new home, and you’ll want them to feel surrounded by warm, friendly people who have their best interests at heart. So be sure to question whether each community’s approach to providing memory care engenders real peace of mind. Find out if they’re committed to cultivating a family care team defined by communication, trust and personal attention.
What measures are in place to mitigate safety risks?
Safety is one of the most essential factors in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. People struggling with these conditions are often prone to wandering, and their confusion or memory loss could lead to dangerous situations. In fact, that’s why many families begin the search for a memory care community in the first place.
Ask about what policies, services and safeguards are enforced at the community to ensure the safety and security of its residents. Are there wander-protection systems in place? Are living spaces fully secured with locked doors and windows? Are community entrances and exits staffed at all times? Is there ongoing monitoring and supervision? What additional controls are in place to prevent unsafe scenarios?
Make sure that you feel confident in the safety measures a memory care community maintains to protect your loved one and afford them the most comfortable yet secure experience possible.
How do they cultivate socialization, engagement and cognitive stimulation?
When memory loss and cognitive decline become a life-altering reality, many seniors find themselves isolated not only from friends and family, but also from the mental and emotional engagement that once brought meaning and joy to their lives. If they spend too much time alone and without ongoing sources of stimulation, it takes a toll on their entire well-being.
Find out how each memory care community addresses this aspect of resident life. Knowing that seniors with memory challenges often find social interactions strenuous and can become frustrated in certain scenarios, how does the community work to both encourage socialization and diffuse aggression? What opportunities are there for interaction, relationship-building, physical exercise, fun activities and other forms of engagement? What efforts do they employ to focus on purposeful living for residents, including an individualized approach to each person’s unique hobbies, lifestyle and interests?
Is there a full calendar of events and activities? Are there memory-specific offerings in the form of options like music therapy or games? How can your loved one enjoy their time living in the community even in light of their memory challenges? Ultimately, you’ll want to know that the entire staff is dedicated to ensuring your loved one’s mental and emotional health.
What level of personal and medical attention do they provide?
Get all of the specifics surrounding how your loved one’s medical needs will be managed. Are on-site staff members working directly with your loved one’s doctors to report on their health and memory, including changes in behavior or physical condition? Do they have a comprehensive plan for medication management? What are the response mechanisms for medical emergencies?
Inquire about the staff-to-resident ratio to get a better idea of how much individual attention you can expect for your loved one. How often do they check in, and what is the extent to which they assist with activities of daily living when necessary? How do they help seniors with memory challenges thrive in accordance with daily routines, and how can those routines be tailored to meet the needs of your loved one?
Does the environment feel home-like and welcoming?
There’s no denying this is a big move for any senior, let alone one facing the very significant challenges of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Perhaps they’re leaving behind a home they’ve lived in for years or they’re feeling apprehensive about moving to a place that’s unfamiliar. Therefore, their level of comfort in a memory care environment will be paramount.
Tour the living spaces and community areas to get a feel for the atmosphere and amenities. Are they both home-like and optimized for someone with memory impairment? Is the floorplan inviting and easy to navigate? Do the living quarters meet your expectations for size and preferences? How are meals provided, and what do the options look like? Is there ample room for family gatherings or visits from friends? Is there adequate privacy while still maintaining safety and support? Are there pleasant outdoor areas for fresh air and enjoyment? You’ll need to determine how the setting fits into your loved one’s idea of a comfortable place to call home.
In the end, the decision-making process will come down to a combination of these factors and the gut feeling you get from the people and environment you experience firsthand. These questions are a basis for helping you collect important information and get as many answers as you need to make the right choice. Not every community will have what you’re looking for, but with the right approach, you can find the one that best meets the needs of your loved one.
Interested in touring The Springs of Vernon Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center or finding out more about our approach to specialized memory care? Contact us today.