Active Aging Presented by Public Health Seattle-King County
When a loved one experiences symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive disorders that compromise their safety and ability to meet their own daily care needs, family members may consider long-term care. A memory care facility provides specialized care and support that maintains patients’ safety and quality of life and helps ease family and friends’ worry about their loved one’s well-being.
Here’s everything you need to know about finding a high-quality memory care facility.
Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Different types of long-term residential facilities provide different levels of care. Here’s a list of common ones and their differences, according to the National Institute on Aging.
- Assisted Living – Residents need help with daily living – but not as much help as a nursing home gives. Many facilities offer varying levels of care. Residents usually have their own apartment or room and share common space. They receive three meals daily, personal care assistance, and help with medications. Facilities have housekeeping, laundry, recreational activities, security, and on-site staff.
- Nursing Homes (aka Skilled Nursing Facilities) – Health and personal care services include 24-hour supervision, nursing care, three meals a day, and help with daily living activities. Some temporary rehabilitation residents receive physical, occupational, or speech therapy after surgery or injury. Patients who require constant care and supervision due to ongoing physical or mental conditions are permanent residents.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) – These communities offer multiple services in one location, including independent housing, assisted living, and skilled nursing. As care needs change, residents transfer within the community.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is a subset of assisted living and nursing home care, according to Forbes Health. Staff members at a memory care facility provide specialized care “to meet the specific social, medical and safety needs of people who have dementia or some form of cognitive impairment.”
As dementia progresses, patients require higher levels of care. Memory care staff members are specifically trained to handle the challenges people with dementia or Alzheimer’s face. Patients follow structured routines in a safe environment at the facility. Staff members check residents frequently and provide extra support, according to AARP.
Because six in 10 people living with dementia will wander, safety features at memory care facilities include door alarms, elevators with passcodes, and enclosed outdoor areas.
How to Find High-Quality Memory Care Facilities Near You
Finding the best memory care facility near you is essential for your loved one’s safety and quality of life. These sources are an excellent place to start your search.
- Primary Care Physician – Consulting a patient’s primary care physician is a great place to start when searching for a memory care facility. They’ve built a relationship with your loved one and understand their unique medical needs. Ask the PCP for a list of facilities that best meet those needs.
- Online Long-Term Care Directories – There are several online directories for long-term care facilities. Check Housing Options on AARP and Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resource Finder. Under Skilled Nursing facilities, look for ones that offer memory care. Browse Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website. Visit The Joint Commission’s Quality Check website to find Gold Seal memory care facilities by state, city, or zip code, and check Eldercare Locator from the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Visit Multiple Facilities Multiple Times
Once you create a list of potential memory care facilities, visit each to watch operations at different times of day, including the evening, and varying days of the week, experts suggest to AARP. You should also bring your loved one to see how they respond to the setting and staff, says Lisa Grod, Ph.D., and gerontologist via Forbes Health.
During each visit, notice how staff members respond to residents. Are they prompt, courteous, and helpful? Do they seem calm or frazzled? Is the facility adequately staffed to accommodate the number of residents?
Factors to Consider at Each Facility
A high-quality memory care facility should always put the needs and safety of its residents first. As you tour each facility, consider these crucial factors.
- Staff training – Are personnel knowledgeable, friendly, and equipped to help dementia patients? How many staff members work there? What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
- Environment – Is the facility clean and inviting? Do residents look clean and cared for? What are mealtimes like? What are residents’ rooms like? Are there common social spaces, including safe outdoor spaces?
- Medical care – Does the facility provide on-site medical care? If yes, what type of care do they give, and when do residents go to the hospital for care? Is there an on-site doctor? How often do they visit residents?
- Safety – What are the safety and security measures? How does the facility prevent wandering?
- Social activities – Does the facility offer social activities for residents, like games, music and art therapy, dancing, and singing?
- Cost – What are the total costs for residential care? What services does long-term insurance or Medicaid cover? What are the out-of-pocket costs? What services cost extra?
Ultimately, finding the right fit for a memory care facility can help your loved one thrive and give you peace of mind about their comfort, safety, and well-being.
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