If you're looking into memory care for a loved one, you may have noticed a lot of services available for those with memory loss conditions. Is a standalone memory care facility best? Is dementia care different from memory care? What is assisted living vs. memory care? Perhaps in-home care or skilled nursing is best? Which one is right? There are so many questions when it comes to memory care, and we're here to help you sort it all out. We'll explain what memory care is, the different types and the levels of care.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is specialized care for those living with memory loss conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease and brain injuries. Memory care communities are secure and safe places designed to meet the unique needs of those with memory loss.
Memory care communities will have programming, events and activities specially created for those with memory loss. Communities are created with unique features such as sensory gardens, wayfinding to encourage independence and mobility, memory stations, and other elements to support well-being and social interaction. Safety features vary by location, so it’s important to ask about details like secure entrances, monitored exits to reduce wandering, sensors and/or security cameras, and a manageable staff-to-resident ratio.
Important considerations as we talk about memory loss and care:
- Memory care includes those with dementia, Alzheimer's and other causes of memory loss.
- Dementia is a term to describe a large number of neurological and memory loss conditions.
- Dementia is not a disease but is a group of symptoms. There are over 400 different types of dementia.
- Alzheimer's is a disease and the most common type of dementia.
Is There a Difference Between Memory Care and Dementia Care?
Memory care is often viewed as the precursor to dementia care. Most memory care residents are relatively free of illnesses, diseases and major health concerns but may progress to more advanced stages of dementia and need more extensive care.
- Memory care can be simple to complex.
- In order to receive dementia care, the resident has been diagnosed with dementia.
- Those receiving dementia care may have a greater loss of memory and may be progressing towards Alzheimer's or other advanced conditions.
- Memory care communities can support residents with early stages of memory loss and those with more advanced forms of dementia.
- Both memory care and dementia care residents live in secured areas to prevent wandering and panic.
Memory Care in Assisted Living Communities
Many senior living communities have memory care and assisted living services on the same campus. There are some communities where independent living is included too. A benefit to having different levels of care is residents can move seamlessly from one type of community to another as their needs change.
Many communities are supportive of couples with differing needs. For example, the wife may be in assisted living, but her spouse needs memory care services. They can both live together in special apartments that can accommodate different needs.
Standalone Memory Care
There are standalone memory care facilities with a 100% focus on memory care patients. Each standalone community will have different features, and you'll need to research what features your loved one will need. What to look for in a standalone memory care unit:
- The entire campus is dedicated to those in memory care.
- Emphasis on security with secured doors and alarms throughout the building, including outdoor spaces.
- State-of-the-art design features including memory stations, wayfinding paths, sensory gardens and innovative activities.
- Specialized training for all staff, including the culinary team, administrative staff and others that have direct contact with residents in memory care.
The quality, services and state regulations for memory care will vary. It's important to conduct visits and talk with friends, family or your doctor for recommendations.
Skilled Nursing and Memory Care
Skilled nursing is specialized medical treatment ordered by a doctor and delivered by a registered nurse. Skilled nursing can take place in special facilities or in-home. Nursing homes are also referred to as Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). SNFs staff nurses, doctors, CNAs and other skilled professionals that deliver short and long-term care. SNFs provide:
- Care for terminal or chronic illness that needs 24-hour medical care and supervision
- Wound care, IV therapies and more complicated medical management
- Physical, speech or occupational therapy
- Medication management and administration
- More of a hospital-like setting
- Private and semi-private rooms
If a loved one needs memory care, there is the option to stay in an SNF (or nursing home) or a memory care community. Both options offer:
- Round-the-clock care
- Medically trained staff
- Help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
- Secured entrances
- Housekeeping and laundry services
However, a memory care community is specially designed for those with memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In some memory care communities, everything from the paint color, to the carpet, to the layout of the building is designed to support residents living with memory loss. Memory care communities also offer transportation to appointments and innovative therapies. Memory care communities may offer substantial cost savings over SNFs.
You may be just starting your journey in helping a loved one with memory loss or dementia. There is much to figure out and plan for, and you may have more questions than answers. If you're having difficulty deciding or unsure which options are best, contact us today. We can help determine which care solution fits your budget, needs and location.