How to Evaluate the Quality of a Memory Care Program
My husband is the guardian for his great-uncle who has Alzheimer’s disease. Since his diagnosis a year ago, we’ve found ways to keep him safe in his own home. The time has come, however, to begin searching for an Alzheimer’s care community.
We aren’t sure what to look for or ask as we begin making appointments. Can you give us a few pointers? We are feeling a little overwhelmed.
Tina in Byron Center, MI
Tips for Evaluating a Memory Care Community
If you aren’t familiar with memory care, a term often used to describe Alzheimer’s care programs, the search can be intimidating. The sheer variety of options helps ensure an older adult gets the right type of care, but also makes the search confusing for families.
Here are a few questions to ask and factors to keep in mind as you and your husband begin contacting and visiting local memory care communities:
- What is the community’s philosophy of care?
Each memory care community has a unique approach to care. Learning more about each community’s beliefs will help you decide which is a good fit for your uncle. Ask each community you are considering to describe their philosophy of care and what sets them apart from other local providers.
- Will the team work hard to encourage his independence?
Research indicates doing too much for someone with Alzheimer’s can undermine their independence. It can also cause their disease to progress more quickly. By contrast, having systems in place to encourage residents to do as much as is safely possible might help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Finding a memory care community that knows how to successfully balance safety with independence is important. Be sure to ask how the team does this.
- How does the community get to know new residents?
Because Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often impact verbal skills and memory, a senior who moves to a memory care community may struggle answering questions or telling caregivers and staff their unique life story.
Loved ones often cite feeling frustrated that their loved one is treated as a diagnosis, not an individual. This leads to a loss of dignity and self-worth that families find devastating.
Another question to ask when you call or visit memory care is how they will get to know your uncle and learn about his life and personal preferences.
- Are life enrichment activities offered for memory care residents?
Activities and events can enhance quality of life for people with dementia if they work with the senior’s remaining abilities. Take time to ask about daily activities for residents in memory care as you are assessing potential communities. What types of programs are offered and how often? Who coordinates activities and what is their background? Getting answers to these questions will give you a good idea of how your uncle will spend his days.
- How does the community help make this a smooth transition?
Because a change in environment can be stressful for an adult with dementia, you’ll benefit from a community with experienced team members. The staff can work with you on a plan for the days leading up to and after your uncle’s move. Before you make a final decision, ask each community how they help new residents make the smoothest transition possible.
I hope this information is helpful to you, Tina! I wish you and your husband the best of luck in your search for memory care for your uncle.
Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities
At Heritage Senior Communities, we call our memory care program The Terrace. From specialized activities to dedicated dining, it’s designed to help adults with dementia enjoy their best quality of life. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!