A memory care community offers seniors with memory loss a safe place to live, enriching activities and social interaction, and the round-the-clock dementia care they need. For family members, it can mean relief from caregiving responsibilities that have exceeded what they’re able to provide. When a loved one with memory loss is safe and well cared for, family members have the opportunity and time to focus on the relationship they cherish.
Starting a memory care checklist
Each person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia advances through their condition differently. Some may need occasional assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing and ambulation. Others may need intensive support in an environment with skilled nursing care. (For more on the signs of age-related dementia, read our blog post here.)
Asking yourself questions about your loved one’s dementia symptoms will help you identify and prioritize what they’d most benefit from in a memory care community. You lay the foundation for a memory care checklist that will help you screen care options at different communities.
Does your loved one need help with activities of daily living?
Ensure that a full spectrum of assisted living care can be tailored to your loved one’s needs. This spans daily needs such as bathing, dressing and grooming, medication management or toileting help at night. When you visit a community, look for clues that the community is taking good care of residents, that they’re neatly groomed and dressed, and residences are orderly and clean.
Does your loved one sometimes behave in an aggressive manner?
Staff members should be specially trained to work with memory-impaired adults. How quickly can caregivers respond to and defuse highly charged or emotional situations? Are they familiar with dementia symptoms such as Sundowner’s syndrome or hallucinations, and are they equipped to deal with them professionally and compassionately? You should be able to see evidence of regular training courses to prove that staff members are up to date with the latest medical research in memory care.
Is your loved one sometimes mistrustful of others?
Find out how the community partners with family members, and you can be involved to ease your loved one’s transition into their care. Will you be able to personalize their care plans to take into account their likes and dislikes? Are they able to build a bond with a dedicated staff member?
Does your loved one frequently wander?
The community should be safe for someone with memory loss to navigate. Look for visual cues such as colors, names, or other wayfinding markers on hallways and doors that help residents find their way around without assistance. Some communities feature dementia-specific physical designs such as circular hallways and eliminating dead ends that can cause anxiety for some residents. Entrances, exits, and outdoor areas such as gardens should be completely secure to prevent a resident from wandering out and becoming lost.
Is your loved one bored or lonely?
Include questions about activities on your memory care checklist. Are there activities you think your loved one would enjoy? How do staff members keep residents engaged or encourage them to participate in an activity? Are there planned social events where residents can mingle and make friends? Your loved one should have things to do that they find interesting, regardless of their stage of dementia.
Does your loved one need assistance at mealtimes?
Find out how mealtimes are conducted in the community. Will your loved one be eating with others or alone? If they need help and encouragement with eating, will there be a staff member to help them? How would the community support seniors with a dietary preference such as veganism or vegetarianism, or a diet-related condition such as celiac disease? Be sure to try a meal to see what the food tastes like.
Does your loved one need ongoing medical attention for a chronic condition?
A memory care community should be able to manage and support each resident’s increasing dependencies. If your loved one has an ongoing condition such as diabetes, or you anticipate a decline in health, it’s important that high-quality advanced care is offered on their campus. Ask if any health conditions or behaviors would require your loved one to move out to receive care elsewhere.
Does your loved one need 24/7 supervision?
This would be a key consideration on any memory care checklist. Ensure the community doors have a security system and that elevators require a code for use. Your loved one should be able to enjoy outdoor areas without the risk they’ll wander off. Find out how the community keeps residents safe and secure without impinging on their feeling of independence.
Find Out How Our Memory Care Can Help
The answers to these questions on your memory care checklist will help you build a full picture of each community you tour. We invite you to learn more about the memory care community at Sedgebrook. Reach out to us with your questions, and be sure to provide as much information as you can about the individual you’re seeking care for. Our memory care experts can help you assess our services, amenities, safety features and more, to see if Sedgebrook would be the right fit for your family.