What is Memory Care?
Memory Care is an assisted living community that provides care for those who have dementia. Frequently, we are asked for guidance in finding the best memory care community for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. However, it’s fair to say that most individuals don’t really understand what “memory care” is or should be. In the state of Wisconsin, memory care is not a specific or distinct license from the typical RCAC or CBRF assisted living licensures. What memory care should be in its truest sense of the term is a place that is secure, has specialized programming and activities for people with Alzheimer’s, Vascular dementia, or other types of dementia, and staff that is highly trained in how to interact, approach, and care for someone with dementia.
What is Dementia?
As our population ages, we will see more and more people living with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. As defined by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type.” In fact, research shows that 50% of people over 80 are living with some dementia and that percentage increases with age. As the population of people living with dementia grows, so do the options for care for these individuals.
- Adult Day Care Centers
- Home Care
- Assisted Living and Memory Care communities
Adult Day Care Centers
Although there are not a significant number of these centers available, they do offer a few hours to a full day of care for the families who are choosing to provide care for their loved ones themselves. Sometimes, an adult child can continue to work a full-time job and still be home at night to provide care and supervision for an older parent. Adult day care centers provide a community environment where someone is able to be safe, cared for, have lunch, and perhaps even receive bathing assistance. Typically, these centers will provide meaningful activities with other older adults in a safe and stimulating environment. Sometimes spouses utilize these adult day care centers part time so that they are able to take a break from the stress of caregiving and spend time with friends or get errands done.
Home Care agencies can also provide care and supervision to supplement the care that a family can provide or even provide care on an ongoing, 24 hour basis when family is unable. Some home care companies provide specialty training for caregivers that helps them to understand the disease and how to best care for those with it. Home care can become very expensive and isn’t the right choice for everyone.
Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities
In many situations, a person with dementia can do quite well in the early and moderate stages of the disease with help from the family or in an assisted living community that may not be memory care specific. Most memory care specific communities tend to be caring for people at later stages of the disease because many families want to exhaust other options like adult day care and home care before they move their loved one into a community, or folks are able to stay in assisted living that provides a lighter level of care for a while. Sometimes, interacting with people with later stage dementia can be unsettling for family, and also may not be the best environment for the person with dementia. People with dementia may need “cueing” and reminders of what they need to do and how to do it, but they may also remain social and interactive. We want to preserve that for as long as possible, so finding a community or an environment where there are others at a like stage, is important.
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