People in the United States are living longer. In the past 20 years, the average life expectancy of someone living in the United States has increased from 74 to 80 years. While this may not seem like a significant increase over 20 years, it points to a potential increased demand for memory care in the coming years. Today, it is estimated that as many as 5 million Americans live with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by the year 2060. As the baby boomer generation, our parents and grandparents, age into their Golden years, it is expected to create a significant increase in people needing dementia treatment. But what is memory care? Why are memory care services at Baxter Senior Living in Anchorage a better, and potentially safer choice then in-home care?
Memory Care is More Comprehensive than Assisted Living or In-Home Care
Memory care services provided at a community such as Baxter Senior Living are tailored to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The personalized nature of these services helps to increase your loved one’s safety by promoting familiarity with their settings and reducing confusion. The staff working on a memory care unit have specific backgrounds and training centered around treating and assisting people with dementia and memory loss. As their disease progress is a residence, their cognitive abilities and care needs will change. Therefore, staff members receive consistent and ongoing training on how to meet these ever-changing needs.
Also, many states regulate memory care services. While these regulations vary by the state, it is not uncommon for facilities to ensure that all employees who come into contact with residents have some level of specialized training. This often includes housekeepers, dishwashers, and any other non-medical personnel who may interact with your loved one.
Like assisted living, memory care offers meal services, help with activities of daily living and housing. However, memory care services also provide a level of service above and beyond those available in assisted living and in-home care settings. Often these include the services such as a lower staff to patient ratio, 24-hour supervised care, structured layouts and activities, emergency call systems, cognitive treatments and therapy options, and a specially trained skilled nursing staff.
In-home care services can offer around the clock care; however, it often comes at a high cost when not provided by a family member. Also, for in-home care services to include skilled nursing, there is an added cost.
Memory Care Units Have a Unique Design
One of the critical benefits to memory care units is enhanced security measures put in place to help prevent wandering. Wandering is a common behavior among people with dementia, and it can be very dangerous should someone wander off, especially during the cold winter months. Memory care units tend to be smaller than assisted living communities and often feature unique design elements designed to help assist with navigation such as color-coded hallways or rounded buildings. Also, some memory care communities have interior courtyards designed to help their residents enjoy the outdoors while remaining safe. While care is available around the clock at many assisted living communities, some of the safety features essential to dementia care may not be “standard” in these communities.
As cognitive capabilities decline, it often becomes more difficult for senior loved ones to remain in their homes without the 24-hour supervision offered at a memory care facility. This option means that a family member, friend, or paid care provider must stay in the residence with the senior. Often this can put a strain on family members both emotionally and financially.
Memory Care Includes Cognitive Therapies
The therapy services at a memory care facility are designed to address memory loss, wandering, and other side effects of dementia through innovative and effective therapies that reduce symptoms. Successful dementia treatments are based on the individual’s needs; however, there are several common treatments used in dementia care across the board. These include therapies such as art therapy, pet therapy, music therapy, and light therapy. Some facilities also include options like aromatherapy, reminiscence therapy, and storytelling to help seniors tap into memories not easily accessed.
All of these therapies require varying levels of training for the provider. If proper training is not obtained, treatment may not be successful or adverse consequences could arise. For treatment such as these to be offered in an in-home setting, trained practitioners need to be hired outside of the daily care service provider. Some assisted living facilities provide these therapy options for their residents; however, the therapy goals in the assisted living community are different from those in a dementia care community.
Memory Care Focuses on Communication and Behaviors
Dementia behaviors are different from resident to resident and often change as cognitive decline increases with disease progression. The staff at a memory care facility such as Baxter Senior Living are equipped to meet the residents’ needs through advanced planning and communication. They can offer specific help to residents with managing symptoms such as sundowning, agitation, wandering, and confusion. Also, new schedules and activity schedules are often planned around the residence needs. Some residents do better in the mornings, whereas some do better in the evenings.
Memory Care Facilities Help Families
Transitioning a loved one from in-home care or assisted living to memory care is an emotional decision. There is often stigma, regret, or feelings of guilt, but there shouldn’t be. Placing your loved one in a memory care facility means you’re allowing experts to care for your family member and offering yourself a moment to take care of your mental health as well. The knowledge that your loved one is receiving trained, 24-hour care can help to provide peace of mind for you while relieving the day-to-day stress and pressures associated with being an around the clock in-home caregiver.
Many memory care communities offer services and support for family members in the form of education and group activities. Communities also offer families the opportunity to meet with staff and provide thoughts or input on community activities. It is also common for memory care communities to feature guest speakers who talk about different subjects related to dementia to aware family members about how they may support their loved ones.
Memory Care Limits Isolation
Memory care communities provide opportunities for seniors to participate in different activities based on their needs and abilities. Activities provide seniors with options for group or one on one interaction. Also, entertainers and musicians often perform at communities, allowing residents to be part of an enjoyable group activity. Some common group activities include trivia games, bingo, field trips to parks, tactile activities, sensory stimulation, and sing-a-longs. Memory care communities plan activities designed for all residents regardless of their dementia stage. Many of these activities help to stimulate seniors’ minds, increase motor skills, and provide essential social interaction. Often, in-home care options do not offer the same depth of care and activity options.
If your Alaskan loved one is currently in in-home care or an assisted living community and it’s time to consider a transition into memory care, look to Baxter Senior Living in Anchorage. Our skilled dementia care staff is here to help your family learn about the transition and make the process as easy as possible. We understand the decision to place your loved one in a memory care unit can be difficult. Often, education and research help to mitigate some of these emotions. If you are interested in learning more about dementia care services at Baxter Senior Living, call us today for a tour. Come see for yourself how our caring and compassionate staff can help your senior loved one enjoy aging in place.