For those with Alzheimer’s disease, there comes a point when caregiving services are no longer enough.
As their condition deteriorates, the need for care progresses beyond the simpler tasks of daily living.
Family caregivers can’t provide the around-the-clock supervision needed, and find their loved one increasingly hard to manage as they become more confused, even delusional and aggressive.
Safety becomes an issue, behavioral changes add an unexpected layer of complication, and it becomes clear that some sort of specialized care is needed.
Memory care is the answer.
What is memory care?
Memory care is a specific type of long-term care that deals with degenerative cognitive issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
It includes supervised care from staff who are trained to deal with the specific memory and behavior challenges brought on by these conditions, with surroundings and services designed to carefully manage and even slow deterioration of the resident’s condition in comfortable, safe surroundings.
Memory care may be provided in a stand-alone memory care unit or a wing within a larger assisted living community with costs that vary based on location, amenities, shared or single rooms, quality of the individual’s specific residence and any upgrades it might include.
Housekeeping, laundry, meal service, social activities, programs and transportation are usually included, but on-campus access to medical care may vary depending on licensing at the specific community.
Features may include structured programs to help enhance memory, such as a memory garden with scents and plants to trigger memories of gardening, residence features to mimic the home they left behind, internal hallways laid out to minimize confusion (such as circular hallways so the resident can’t become lost or confused by which way to turn), fully enclosed indoor and outdoor spaces that prevent wandering, 24-hour supervision, on-site physicians and medical staff, tracking bracelets, family support groups and more.
Learn how Sun Health offers state-of-the-art memory care here. It can even be prepaid as part of the all-inclusive care option offered by all Sun Health Life Care communities.
For those seeking home and community services, be sure to check out the free Memory Care Navigator program.
Memory care versus assisted living
Many people assume “assisted living” is a generic term that encompasses all types of care for older adults. If it’s a retirement community, it must be assisted living, right? And assisted living must include care for those with dementia, right?
Despite regulation at the state level, there is no clear definition of assisted living at the national level, and licensing can vary from state to state. Not only that, but tiers of licensing vary, too. Since there are thousands of communities and care centers for older adults, and each one is only able to provide the type of care specified in their state license, each can vary dramatically.
What seems like an apples-to-apples comparison for those seeking an assisted living or retirement solution ends up being apples-to-oranges. (See the infographic below.)
Not all retirement communities offer assisted living or any kind of care for those who aren’t able to care for themselves independently, and not all assisted living communities offer care beyond unskilled help with activities of daily living. Assisted living can be a short-term solution for those recovering from a stroke, surgery or illness–or long-term solution through end of life. Meals, social activities and transportation are often provided, since most residents are unable to leave the assisted living environment on their own.
If looking for memory care services for a loved one, it’s important to thoroughly explore the services, levels of care and staff training of each location you are considering. Bringing a list of questions can be helpful to accurately compare them.
It’s also helpful to understand how you intend to pay for memory care before evaluating facilities. Someone already diagnosed would not pass the health screening to join a continuing care community or Life Care community, which would narrow the search, and the financials and health insurance of the person needing memory care may determine their in-network or most affordable assisted living options.
Sun Health Senior Living offers three Life Care communities in Arizona, and a lifestyle focused on good health, wellbeing and independence. Its award-winning memory care, skilled care and assisted living services are available to residents depending on the plan selected when they move in.
Some services are also available to the general public on a space available basis.
To learn more, we invite you to explore our website or attend an upcoming workshop near you.
To speak to someone immediately, please contact Jackie Lusson, our corporate director of sales, at 623-236-3767.
(Originally published May 22, 2018; last updated Jan. 11, 2019.)