Choosing from a Distance

When a family first gets the diagnosis of a loved one’s dementia, many choose to care for their loved one at home, at least for a time. But, if you’re a long distance caretaker, this is likely not an option. In addition, after their memory has progressed to a certain point, you and your family will likely need help. Fortunately, there are many options and opportunities for long distance caregivers who are in need of a memory care community for their loved one.

Caring for a person with a dementia diagnosis requires unique needs to be met, and not every assisted living community is suited to meet those needs. One way to determine whether the community you’re looking at will best meet your loved one’s needs is to look at specific characteristics of the community in question.

Safety and Security

People with memory loss issues have specialized needs when it comes to security and safety. When looking for a care community for your loved one with compromised cognition, be sure to look for one that is supervised by trained professionals 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

People with memory loss need a safe and secure environment. About 60 percent of patients with a diagnosis of dementia develop wandering behaviors. Some of the precautions to look for in a memory related community include having secured entrances and exits. Also, if the community is connected to others, as are many memory care communities, the connections between these communities needs to be secure as well. Consider a community that is supervised and secured, this can eliminate many of your most urgent concerns for you and your family.

Features of the Rooms

Many assisted living communities offer a special memory care section on a unique floor or wing. But you can also choose a community that only specializes in working with individuals with memory care issues. Many communities have floor plans available on their websites, so that you can view the layout of the community before taking the long distance trip to visit.

Keeping all of this in mind, you might still consider that your loved one will be living in this community. This means that the apartments, common areas, dining rooms, medical treatment areas, all of the places in this memory care community need to feel like home. If available, check out the slide shows or photo galleries available on their website. Also, check out their social media to see images of residents living in community. This will show you a variety of angles and perspectives of the community.

When you’re at the final decision making stage, consider taking the time to visit the community. If you can’t visit, call and talk with the staff. Be sure that you’re comfortable with the place you’ve chosen, because if you’re comfortable, your loved one will also be comfortable.

Access to Medical Care

A dementia diagnosis can be accompanied by a variety of other health issues. Some of them are directly related to the diagnosis, others are a function of the aging process. Either way, the memory care community your family chooses should be capable of providing immediate access to skilled medical care.

Look for a place with an on-staff medical director for access to appropriate medical care. There should be access to nurses available to provide for the medical needs of the residents in the community, too. Nurses should have access to a physician for questions about the health and wellbeing of the residents.

Whichever type of community you’re looking at, you should be sure that the staff is specifically trained to handle residents with impaired cognition and memory issues. And it’s important that the staff receive ongoing training in dementia care.

Activities and Programming

A memory focused community should have therapeutic programs to engage the residents. There should be a variety of activities for residents that match with their stages of dementia and their abilities. A great community should be able to provide personalized activities and programming designed for their individual residents on a regular basis to keep their minds working at the individual’s optimum levels for as long as possible. By using appropriate activities and programs, many people dementia diagnoses experience a significant increase in quality of life overtime.

In addition to the specialized programming, therapies and activities, it’s important that the memory care community you choose truly feels like a community. Your loved one should be able to engage with the other residents in the community. Also, you and your family should have the ability to visit and dine with your loved one whenever you can. You should find out if the community supports video calls or other technologies to allow you and your loved one to see each other. Regardless of a dementia diagnosis, people tend to thrive in more social environments.  The community you choose should have activities and programs to encourage their residents to socialize and remain active with each other.

Quality of Life

The best memory care community will focus on the whole person, not just their dementia diagnosis. Moving into a memory care community shouldn’t mean sacrificing your loved one’s quality of life. If your family maintains a kosher diet, the community should be able to maintain this diet for your loved one as well. Allowing your loved one to use their favorite face cream or maintaining a clean-shaven appearance, these may seem like simple things, but they’re part of what makes us…us. This shouldn’t be lost because of a move to a memory care community.

Of course, the community you choose will cover the basics, but you should look for a community that goes a step further. A community that will provide a comfortable quality of life for your loved one through a caring staff, tasty meals, excellent housekeeping, and an overall pleasant living environment with helpful, caring staff. Staff members who love their job and provide activities, assist in therapies, and do their best to keep their residents interested in their hobbies and other meaningful activities that give the residents a sense of purpose and engagement.

We can give you an idea of what to look for in this article, but you’re going to need to see the communities for yourself. At some point, you’re going to need to go and take a tour.  Before you do that, browse social media to find reviews and recommendations. This is a very important decision, please take as much time as you need and choose wisely. Once you’ve narrowed your options, be sure to read policies/procedures and ask a lot of questions, to ensure that you find the best memory care community for your loved one.