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Alzheimer’s effects more than 6 million Americans, and that number is expected to only rise. It is uncertain, there’s no way of telling how this disease will develop over time for your loved one because of its unpredictable ways. It can progress rapidly or painfully slow, early, mid, and late-stage Alzheimer’s is the cycle this disease follows.
Alzheimer’s and dementia require around the clock care, caregivers are a lot of times family, and it can be a burden on them to dedicate themselves to taking care of their loved one alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 11 million Americans are caregivers for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, unpaid.
Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other types of memory impairment can affect people’s and families lives drastically. To ensure your loved one gets the help they need, look out for early warning signs of cognitive impairment. When it does come time to make a care plan, turning to memory care will help in the process of planning.
The purpose of memory care facilities is to provide a safe and healthy environment for residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other types of memory impairment. Receiving a diagnosis like Alzheimer’s requires your loved one to live in a safe environment with trained professionals. Choosing memory care can be one of the best options to receive top tier and individualized care.
There are approximately 30,000 assisted living facilities with memory care units included in them, making it important for you or your loved one to find which works best.
It can be difficult to narrow down a memory care facility that’s right for your loved one. The most important part when selecting a memory care facility is making sure it checks all the boxes. When choosing a community, take time to research and discover what these facilities have to offer.
Having a good reputation in the community is important to the facility and potential residents and families. The best way to judge a reputation is by experiencing it, it’s easy to make quick judgements so we recommend reading reviews, reaching out to residents or families in the area, and scheduling a tour.
Licensing and Inspections
The state regulates assisted living communities by putting in place protocols, procedures, and sometimes with unannounced visits. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regulate nursing homes with evaluations posted on their website but not assisted living communities. Each state regulates assisted living facilities in place of the federal government. Each state is different and usually is monitored by the state’s health department or social services. To learn more, click here.
Longevity and Certification of Staff
Having experienced and well-trained staff is crucial to a properly run facility. The staff who have been there for years know the residents well, are very familiar with the facility and are experienced. When assisting residents, you or your loved one want a staff member who knows what they are doing. This isn’t to say younger, newer staff are not qualified, but staff with higher longevity have more experience working in this environment. It’s important to note if the staff are Certified Dementia Practitioner’s, having staff who understands and is trained in the disease is incredibly valuable to you and your loved one.
Having a clean facility is important in choosing the right space. The ambience is a big factor to consider when touring, does it feel comfortable, or does it feel off-putting? Is the facility like the pictures online or is it completely different looking, many facilities do this to get customers in the door but it’s deceiving. In the facility, pay attention to whether the staff is warm and friendly or if they seem like they don’t want to be there. Keep in mind picturing yourself or your loved one walking through the halls or sitting having dinner with residents, it’s important to feel comfortable.
When choosing a memory care facility, the staff is arguably one of the most important aspects of making a decision. The staff are going to be the ones taking care of your loved one. They will be responsible for administering medicine, helping with mobility, running engaging activities, and caring for your loved one’s overall safety. Keep in mind if staff looks well-groomed and if they seem to care about their positions in facilities as they are responsible for residents. People who work in memory care should be passionate in this line of work, find people you and your loved one connect with and feel comfortable around.
Can you and your loved one’s needs be met? Will the nurses and staff cater to your loved one for their specific required needs? These are questions to think about before making the final decision about where to go. 24/7 nursing is important to have when aging, someone to always be there in case of emergency. Look into how care is administered and how it is determined to cater to your loved one. Ask questions on the tour, reach out to the director, and read all the information the facility will provide in detail.
Having transportation to be able to take your loved one to appointments is needed to transport them safely instead of having to get family or friends during the day to come and do it. This is an important amenity to families of loved ones and residents.
As humans, everyone needs fresh air. Having a path to walk on or somewhere to be able to sit and get fresh air is important, especially living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s easy to become cooped up a lot of the time, and not want to socialize or come out of the room because it seems scary. Going outside and moving will help any feelings of isolation or sadness. Look for some vitamin D!
Some facilities offer many different types of amenities like an ice cream parlor, barber shop, hair salon, library and more!
Living in a memory care facility, there should be a certain level of security for residents and staff. If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, having security implementations such as Wander Guard will help monitor them. If a resident tries to leave the building alone or starts wandering, it’s a simple way to help avoid accidents and to keep your loved one safe.
Having a call system in place will help with the safety of your loved one. Residents can notify nurses if they are not feeling well or have fallen, it’s a system that helps staff be aware of issues in the building since they can’t be everywhere at once. The call system is a feature that helps bring families peace of mind because they know their loved ones are in constant care, which is better than at home.
Many facilities offer a wide variety of social and recreational activities for residents, with a lot of diversity to cater to different interests. When researching facilities, focus on activities that interest your loved one and seems fun. At a memory care facility, there are more options than at home, but it’s still important to find activities your loved one will enjoy. Facilities that offer a variety will be helpful in creating a wonderful atmosphere. From indoors to outdoors to exercise classes and karaoke, many facilities offer a lot of options for residents to socialize.
With the hundreds of activities assisted living facilities can put together, important activities also include family involvement as well as the community. Having a facility that enriches and encourages families to come and visit their loved ones is important to help maintain close bonds. Holiday parties with family, birthdays, and get togethers can help residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia stay connected.
Most people have different needs or specific restrictions when it comes to their diet, especially as they age. It can be recommended by your doctor if suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, an allergy, or a personal choice. Making sure a facility offers special dietary services is an important feature. While looking, it’s important to also research if the menu is approved by a dietitian.
Look into whether residents can have visitors and what that cost would be. Some residents might not be able to leave the facility because they are not able, so it’s important to see if the facility allows family members to have private parties or gatherings.
When on a tour or speaking with the facility employees ask questions like the following:
➢ Are there community entrance fees?
➢ Are there any extra costs?
➢ Can you age in place?
➢ How often do rates increase?
Some facilities charge these fees, and some do not. Each facility will work differently for everyone based on their financial situation and each facility offers different services to residents. Find what’s best for you and your loved one!
This checklist is meant to help get you or your loved one’s mind to begin thinking about important aspects to consider when discussing moving into memory care. There are many attributes that pertain to where you or your loved one make the choice. It’s important to do the research and investigate certain features that would help make the decision easier. It can be difficult to narrow down the right place, especially with cost being a large factor. Use resources to help in this decision and trust the process!
Being in a facility dedicated to helping your loved one live a full life is the purpose of memory care. They will receive 24-hour care, a safe environment for them to live their lives in, activities to keep up stimulation and socialization, and peace of mind for families that a loved one is in a safe space designed for them and their diagnosis.
Having licensed nursing professionals on-site at all times will provide comfort for you and your loved one when in memory care. It gives you, your loved one, and family members peace of mind knowing medical professionals are always readily available day through night. With Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be hard to communicate when not feeling well, or something is wrong. Professional nurses who are trained in memory care can communicate with you or your loved one safely and more efficiently.
As families accept the reality of their loved ones being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the idea of taking care of them can be overwhelming. Family members usually don’t have the skills or tools necessary to properly take care of their loved one. Memory care helps release that burden of feeling like someone needs to put their life on hold. There are nurses who work at these facilities dedicating their lives to patients like your loved one. Memory care facility nurses train to become strong communicators and advocators for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. With 24/7 nurses, your and your loved one will gain a sense of safety.
When living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, stimulating the mind and body is essential to creating a better-quality life. It’s easy for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients to become isolated and overwhelmed very easily, curated activities for cognitive function can help your loved one live a better quality of life. The reason behind 24/7 activities is to intrigue every type of resident, which could be late in the afternoon or at 3 in the morning. The purpose is to have the opportunity for interaction for residents available regardless of the time. Some residents are night owls, others early birds, both have the chance to do what they want and when.
With Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, every single day is different. It’s hard to know how they will react to something or what kind of mood that day will bring. Having an activities schedule robust enough that it is intriguing but not overwhelming is important to the proper care. Memory care facilities create an active environment with skilled nurses to help guide your loved one to a better quality of life while living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Memory care facilities offer opportunities one would not receive at home. Your loved one would be able to have different “perks” right down the hall unlike at home. Memory care facilities and their amenities can help to uncomplicate life, doing so by offering a sense of freedom while still being cared for. Let’s say your loved one really likes to get out of the house and explore different things like going to the barber shop or the nail salon. Memory care facilities offer amenities like those to bring a sense of normalcy to residents and gives them the independence to explore right there.
At memory care facilities, it is very important to residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Usually, dementia friendly meals are served to keep residents physically and mentally healthy as much as possible. When suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s easy to forget to eat, not remember if you did already, or become too overwhelmed. A balanced diet is important because your loved one can’t be responsible for taking care of themselves alone anymore.
Memory care facilities help monitor and create balanced meals for residents. They also give the option to not dine alone and create conversation daily while being fueled with the proper nutrition.
Memory care facilities don’t have to feel like an uncomfortable place. The staff and volunteers have a wonderful gift of making it feel close to home. When moving into a memory care facility, make sure to bring similar furniture, or items that make your loved one feel at home. It’s possible they won’t remember home much, but items from the past will help to keep the connection.
At a memory care facility, they also focus on celebrating residents as well as holidays. Families can visit and there’s something to do every single day. Residents can live a better quality of life than if they were home, your loved one can meet people and have friends to socialize with while getting the assistance and care needed.
The most important aspect of a memory care facility is the safety they offer. Nurses, security, and overall care can ensure your loved one’s safety. When living at home, it can be difficult to live a good quality life. Unless you or your loved one has home care, there needs to be a solution to help in dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memory care facilities will offer constant care and a community for you or your loved one to be a part of, safely.
When diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, having a plan is important to creating the best quality of life possible for your loved one. Memory care will help keep them stimulated, safe and sociable. As hard as it may be to come to terms with a difficult diagnosis, it’s always possible to create a path in which it’s not as scary. Memory care facilities will take you and your loved one in with open arms.
Pittsburgh is known as one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania according to Niche. It is rich in American history and known as the “City of Bridges” having 446 of them. There are 195 assisted living facilities in the Pittsburgh area, they offer different opportunities for levels of care and costs.
Pittsburgh is a place where different age groups can find multiple activities to do. Being in assisted living won’t stop you from still enjoying the city you live in if you’re able. Look into the local arts and culture of Pittsburgh, like the Warhol Museum.
Where you or your loved one decides to choose memory care is important, as well as the town around it. The Village of Williamsville offers unique shops and a friendly atmosphere to explore. If you’re interested in learning more about memory care facilities and what they can offer to you or a loved one, research! Call up potential facilities and schedule a tour to see it in person or a virtual visit.
Take the information here and process all the opportunities memory care can give to you and a loved one. It can help to transform someone’s quality of life, while dealing with an incurable disease. There are so many opportunities for residents with the activities and amenities offered through memory care. Memory care is to help you and your loved one live a better life.
Being a caregiver can bring stress, worry, exhaustion, guilt and the list goes on. Taking care of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia can mentally drain a person as much as they may deny it. This disease takes a powerful tole not only on the diagnosed but the people surrounding them, in different ways.
As a caregiver, it is important to feel supported and not alone in the process of taking care of a loved one. We are lucky today there are many care options for loved ones suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and options for caregivers. Let’s talk about the importance of support groups in caregivers’ journeys…
While caregivers are usually never alone, it’s easy to feel alone and isolated. Caregivers spend most of their time caring for someone else in every way possible, it’s difficult to remember to take care of themselves. It can also be difficult to accept memory care for your loved one as you’re so used to it, but sometimes it’s what it needs to turn too.
Support groups help you develop relationships with people who have similar stories to you whether that be with their parents, spouse, sibling, or a friend. In these discussions, you would be exchanging information between other caregivers like yourself, it could even turn into finding solutions to the problems you’re having. Advice from others can go a long way.
A support group gives you access to other people’s experiences, they can relate to you through their own challenges with their loved one. You as a caregiver can discuss what you have gone through and seek advice from others in the same position. You can share your true feelings in a safe space meant for venting and coping with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
There are many resources out there to caregivers and family members of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Click here to find support groups in your area.
Book a tour here to see if we’re the right fit.
More Support Group Resources:
Eldercare Locator – https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Resources/Topic/Caregiver.aspx
Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) – http://lists.caregiver.org/mailman/listinfo/caregiver-online_lists.caregiver.org