Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is an Assisted Living Facility with Memory Care and is it right for my elderly parent?



By Bob Gregory

Choosing the right Senior Facility can be a daunting task and it can be very complicated if your elderly parent suffers from memory issues.  Memory care units within an Assisted Living Facility are designed to care for residents who suffer from mild to moderate memory loss caused by degenerative diseases such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  These types of facilities offer your parent the special care and assistance they need while still allowing the resident to enjoy continued independence. 
Keeping the memories alive
Keeping the memories alive
 (Photo credit: fernanda_maria)
Services provided by the Memory Care units of an Assisted Living Facility:

ü  Security:  Memory Care units generally offer a secure area for individuals with memory impairment diseases.  Generally a wing, or building depending on the size facility, is designated as the Memory Care unit and provides a higher level of security for residents who may wander off and get lost.  Some of these units are considered “lock down” units and may secure or “lock” the doors so residents do not wander off premises.  Levels of lock down vary so you will need to ask.  Some units lock the exits only at night and others have them secured all day.  The staff is normally trained to assist residents when they become “lost” and provide compassion and reassurance as they help the resident return to their quarters.

ü  Memory Therapy: Most Assisted Living Facilities with Memory Care units provide activities designed to provide therapy for their residents.  These activities are designed to be fun, engaging and rehabilitating.  Sensory and Cognitive therapies are generally the focus of the activities but most will include physical therapy as well.  Some have activities especially designed to address the symptoms of aggression and agitation that are associated with degenerative memory diseases.  Therapy may be provided on an individual basis but most are performed in a group setting to promote socializing.  Many facilities now use online memory games and skill activities.  Online programs provide an expansive and ever changing data base of games and activities to challenge and measure progress of the participant.

ü  Enhanced Medication Assistance:  Assisted Living Facilities normally provide assistance with administering residents’ medication.  In facilities with Memory Care, the nurses assure the medication is taken on time.  They are also trained to note changes in behavior and carefully document and notify the primary physician of these changes.

ü  Increased Care Level:  Assisted Living Facilities are designed to help individuals who need assistance performing normal daily functions such as bathing, eating, toileting, dressing, etc.  Facilities with Memory Care units provide a higher level of service for residents who need the same assistance, but may not “remember” they need to perform the daily functions.  In the Memory Care units, caregivers monitor whether a resident is eating, bathing, etc.
English: Logo of Alzheimer's Society.
English: Logo of Alzheimer's Society.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As in any Senior Facility, not all Assisted Living Facilities with Memory Care units are the same and they don’t all provide the same level of care.  You need to do your research as to exactly what level and type of care they do provide.  Make sure your parent’s physician agrees that an Assisted Living Facility with a Memory Unit is sufficient for your parent’s degree of memory degeneration.  You should also discuss your research with the physician to get concurrence that the facility is providing the type of care your parent requires.  I also encourage you to observe the residents in the Memory Care unit and ask at what point the facility would recommend you move your parent to a higher level of care facility such as a Nursing Home.  Finally, you want to be sure your parent is living with residents with similar levels of memory degeneration to promote healthy socialization.

If would like a list Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider www.seniorfacilityfinder.com
           
If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of www.seniorfacilityfinder.com. At SeniorFacilityFinder.com, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider www.seniorfacilityfinder.com


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