What is memory care really like? One of the fears that many families face when thinking about memory care is the unknown. It’s hard to imagine day-to-day life in memory care if you’ve never seen it. And what you do imagine may be based on professional practices or ideas that are out-of-date and no longer used.
Different Levels of Memory Care
As you likely know, dementia is not caused by a single condition. Rather, it is a group of conditions that share certain traits, such as cognitive decline and memory loss. While there are many types of dementia, all of them are typically progressive. This means they get more severe over time. Dementia is grouped roughly into three stages of progress: early, intermediate, and advanced.
Because the causes, symptoms, and progress of dementia vary, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to memory care. Instead, modern memory care residences feature differentiated and personalized programs.
When they move in, we sit down with each new resident and their families and get to know them. This process includes different assessments and conversations that help pinpoint the exact level of care that is right for them, right now. Not only do we assess the level of memory care that a new resident needs, we take the opportunity to get a feel for their personality, interests, likes, and dislikes.
Because not every resident will get the same benefit from every therapy available, this assessment process is a key first step to successful memory care.
Daily Enrichment and Activities
Research has shown that regular mental, social, and physical activity can help slow the progression of cognitive decline related to dementia. These activities also improve mood, reduce the risk of falls, and in some cases even improve memory. Therapeutic memory care includes a daily menu of these research-based therapies, targeted and tailored to both the stage and interests of the individual.
One category of therapy shown to improve concentration, communication, and cognitive function involves sensory stimulation. This means activities that stimulate one or more of the five senses in targeted ways, such as light therapy, art therapy, aromatherapeutic massage, and pet therapy. One of the most effective sensory therapies is music therapy.
Another critical component of therapeutic dementia care is physical exercise. Based on their level of physical ability, each resident is encouraged to join in daily physical activity, from walking to chair yoga to range of motion exercises.
Socialization and Friendship
One particularly important element of memory care therapy is socialization. Loneliness and isolation put every senior at risk, and dementia only compounds that risk. Living in a memory care residence provides social opportunities that are otherwise beyond the reach of most seniors with dementia.
Especially for those in the early or intermediate stages of dementia, memory care offers therapy in group settings. This provides opportunities for peer socialization and interaction throughout the day. From mealtimes to music therapy, from exercise class to cooking club, memory care residents spend time with friends and peers in the same stage of life.
As dementia progresses, group activities may become more stressful or difficult. For these residents, social stimulation moves to their private apartment. Once again, the conversations that we have with families and residents when they first move in come into play. Socialization for these residents involves one-on-one conversations and reminiscences guided by a trained caregiver.
A Safe, Beautiful Environment
The final element of a research-based therapeutic memory care residence is its physical design. Dementia often leads to high-risk wandering. Memory care buildings are designed to be secure, free of trip hazards, and easy to navigate without getting lost. Everything, from the artwork on the walls to the color of the paint and upholstery is chosen based on its therapeutic value.
A well-designed memory care residence provides a feeling of independence and freedom without visible restriction, combined with the peace of mind that comes from thoughtful security and safety design. The end result is residents who are not only safe but who continue to enjoy the sense of respect and autonomy that they desire.
Are you interested in learning more about memory care at New Haven Assisted Living? Click here to schedule a virtual tour and see for yourself how these principles are put into action in our state-of-the-art therapeutic residences.
Does your mom or dad need memory care? Are you looking for caregiver support or respite services? We can help. Click here to contact us today and speak with an expert about where to go from here.