From The Alden Network Podcasts – Is Your Loved One Ready for Memory Care?
If your loved one’s memory issues have affected them enough that they can no longer take care of themselves—either physically or mentally—it may be time to consider placement in a memory care community.
The Alden Network offers a holistic approach for individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other memory care needs. We use evidence-based techniques and programs that help residents receive the care and services needed to help them be engaged and live life to the fullest.
What is memory care?
Memory care uses a holistic approach of working with individuals who have dementia, engaging them via cognitive, physical, mental, nutritional and spiritual perspectives. Assistance with activities of daily living is provided, including eating, dressing, showering, medication management and more if needed. Memory care communities focus on being “dementia friendly,” and some, like those offered by Alden, offer specially designed environments that take into consideration the use of key colors and accommodations to create a soothing setting, therapeutic programming, wellness dining, a life enrichment program, family orientation and support and more.
What sets a memory care community apart from other senior living options?
Through care, services and programming tailored specifically to individuals with memory care needs, Alden’s memory care communities offer residents stimulation, safety and engagement in a meaningful way.
“An important aspect of our programming is focusing on their abilities by igniting positive emotions through the use of sensory stimulation and promoting independence through various innovative techniques,” says Dr. Jennifer Stelter, a Clinical Psychologist and the Director of Clinical Programs at The Alden Network. “That’s really what sets a memory care community apart from any other type of long-term care environment.”
When is it time to seek help from a memory care community?
The best time to consider placement is when you’re concerned for your loved one based on a few key indicators: safety, physical or mental deterioration, and finances.
“As dementia progresses, individuals with dementia lose the ability to anticipate risks, problem solve effectively, organize tasks and take care of themselves,” explains Dr. Stelter. “Cooking, driving, taking medications, or walking up and down stairs may become a problem. Physical or mental deterioration is another area of concern. They may not be taking care of themselves or may suffer from isolation. Many do not take their medications as prescribed. Finally, finances are an area where problems may arise, with individuals either not paying bills or paying them multiple times.”
It’s time. How do I choose a memory care community?
Tour a community at various hours—morning, afternoon, evening and during lunch or dinner—to get a true perspective of what it will be like for your loved one to live there. Ask questions about the community and environment. Is it clean? Do they use contrasting colors so your loved one can navigate safely? How are the rooms or apartments decorated? Does it look and feel like a home? Does it look warm and inviting? Talk to the staff about what kind of professionals are on the treatment team and who would be involved in your loved one’s care. Dementia training should be a necessity for all staff involved. At Alden’s memory care communities, all staff—from housekeepers and cooks to nurses and therapists—receive initial memory care training, as well as 12 hours of ongoing dementia-specific training each year to help them assist residents.
“Along with the treatment team, look at how the staff is interacting with patients currently living there,” advises Dr. Stelter. “Do they have a warm genuine voice? Are they patient? Are they calm? Do they encourage the residents to be independent by doing for themselves as much as they can? Those are all important to observe.”
How do I tell Mom or Dad it’s time to move?
“The first thing I always say is to not ‘announce’ the transition,” says Dr. Stelter. “That can cause undue worry and stress.”
She says, “You may have to use a small fib and tell them they’re going on a vacation. Another way to ease the transition is to bring familiar items from home to the new memory care community—things they recognize and are meaningful to them. Bring along pieces that help them to maintain who they are in terms of personality and preferences.”
How often should I visit?
“This is a hard conversation to have,” admits Dr. Stelter. “While it may be difficult, I ask that relatives do not visit loved ones for the first week they’re there. Family members want to know ‘Is mom okay? How is she doing?’ The community staff will provide those updates. If the family is constantly coming in when the resident first moves in, the resident often wants to leave with them every single time.”
After a week, your loved one will typically be acclimated and comfortable in their new home. At that time, Dr. Stelter encourages families to visit as much as they want.
To learn more about Alden’s Memory Care Communities, visit www.TheAldenNetwork.com/Memory.