What is Memory Care?

Memory care is specialized care for those living with memory loss from dementia such as Alzheimer’s and other causes such as a brain injury — this approach includes both physical care and emotional support. Memory care communities are secured facilities with specially trained staff that provide care and support that respects each resident’s individuality, dignity and quality of life.

You may be curious as to how memory care is different from other types of care, if there are other options and what signs indicate it might be time for memory care. More than any other type of senior care, memory care comes with challenging questions and sensitive discussions. We’re here to help make sense of it so you can better prepare for the future.

How Are Memory Care Communities Different?

Memory care communities are for those living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s and other memory loss. People in memory care require a higher degree and more specific type of attention than those in assisted living and independent living. A few things you’ll see at a memory care community include:

  • Secured entrances to provide safety
  • Monitored exits to reduce unsafe wandering 
  • Door alarms and other security systems
  • Motion-sensor lights
  • Adaptable dining programs
  • Environments designed to promote independence and reduce over-stimulation
  • Wayfinding interiors or architectural elements
  • Low staff-to-resident ratios
  • Home-like layout
  • Specialized professional staff
  • Specially designed apartments
  • Activities and events created for those living with memory loss

Supportive design elements are seen in outdoor spaces, which minimize anxiety and reduce confusion. Walking paths are designed in a loop, with walls or fences to block out distractions and beautiful landscaping to soothe the senses.

Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Assisted living residents have a greater degree of freedom and can come and go from the community as they please. Assisted living residents need help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing assistance or medication management but can administer their medications themselves. Assisted living communities don’t typically have anti-wandering security features or specialized staff, yet they still provide a safe environment.

Memory care residents can be generally physically healthy or may require some assistance with daily tasks. This means they may have trouble remembering to turn off the stove, can no longer administer medications such as insulin shots or engage in regular hygiene.

Is There a Difference Between Memory Care and Dementia Care?

Yes, there is a difference between the two. Memory care communities are a great place for those who require some level of supervision to maximize safety and independence. The specially trained staff in memory care communities assist with needed care by providing support and direction. The earlier one can address and manage memory loss; the more one can live a longer, more independent lifestyle.

Are There Stand-Alone Memory Care Facilities?

Yes, there are stand-alone facilities for memory care. Most often, you’ll see assisted living and memory care communities on the same campus. This is convenient for residents to move from one stage of care to the next without a disrupting move. 

What Are Other Options for Memory Care?

In the early stages of memory loss, in-home care may be a good option. Loved ones benefit from familiar surroundings and family caregivers may be able to provide support. As the disease progresses, a memory care community may be the next best move.

Nursing homes are best for those needing more advanced skilled nursing in addition to round-the-clock care and supervision as their  dementia requirements advance.

What Are the Signs Someone Needs Memory Care?

Generally, dementia develops slowly over time and indicators can go unnoticed. Sometimes, the individual or their loved ones may be in denial about the symptoms they’re seeing. Signs a loved one might exhibit if they’re experiencing memory loss or dementia:

  • Incontinence or forgetting to use the bathroom.
  • Unable to do basic self-care, such as brushing teeth.
  • The home is not maintained. They no longer remember to complete regular chores.
  • Aggressive or unpredictable behavior.
  • Forgetting how to do routine things like drive a car, change clothes, make coffee, etc.
  • Cannot hold a conversation, even without outside distractions.

If you’re living with a loved one who may be showing signs of dementia or other memory loss, you may be overwhelmed. If you’re finding it challenging to take care of your loved one or are neglecting your own health, it may be a good time to call your primary care provider.

Compassionate Care Your Loved One Deserves

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia or a brain injury is never easy for you or your loved one. Discussing a move into a memory care community or other alternatives can be a difficult conversation.

Know that a memory care community is designed to keep a loved one safe. Trained staff are there to give compassionate care. Memory care communities use the most advanced  programming and evidence-based interventions to improve and maintain a high quality of life. This is often care that is very difficult, if not impossible, to do on your own.

Find Memory Care Near You

At BrightStar Care, we know you have questions. Contact us today to discuss compassionate care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other forms of memory loss. We have locations throughout the country and a variety of care options including skilled nursing, Alzheimer’s and dementia in-home care, respite care and more.

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