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Questions To Ask When Choosing a Memory Care Community

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An older adult woman in a memory care community sitting on a chair smiling and having a conversation with a staff member.

When a loved one is diagnosed with any type of dementia, it can be complicated. These conditions can have a significant effect on a person’s life, but fortunately, you can find professional help through a memory care community

These communities are designed to address the unique challenges often caused by dementia and cognitive decline. But how do you choose the right memory care community?

Choosing the right community involves asking the right questions. You’ll need to know what to look for, so make sure to ask the following:

  • What’s the fee structure?
  • What level of care is offered?
  • How is the physical layout?
  • What security measures are in place?
  • What programs, services, and amenities are available?

By asking these questions, you’re equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision for your loved one.

What Is Memory Care?

Dementia is a complex set of neurodegenerative disorders that affect cognitive function. These conditions are all progressive, often with symptoms that worsen as time goes by. In later stages, a person with dementia will likely need professional care. So when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, what do you do?

You reach out to a nearby memory care community. These communities are a specialized type of senior living designed to meet the unique needs of older adults living with dementia.

This differs from other types of senior living. Rather than just offering a new place to call home, memory care is tailored towards reducing the impact of cognitive decline. The teams in these communities undergo additional training to better treat and support seniors living with dementia and are often available around the clock to provide support.

All in all, memory care offers a safe, structured, and supportive environment designed to cater to the needs of people living with any kind of cognitive decline. It’s an effective and incredible way to support a loved one with dementia.

How to Tell if a Loved One Needs Memory Care

So how can you tell if a loved one needs memory care, or if they’re just a little forgetful sometimes? Dementia and other kinds of memory impairment can be difficult to detect at first. Often, symptoms don’t showcase until later stages. Meanwhile, the symptoms that are present can often be mistaken for simple forgetfulness.

When spending time with your loved one, try to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks
  • Misplacing items frequently
  • Trouble following conversation
  • Withdrawing from social activities

These signs might indicate that it’s time to consider memory care. However, if you have a loved one diagnosed with dementia, don’t wait for symptoms to start. Instead, it can help to think about an early move to memory care so their condition can be effectively managed by professionals.

How to Pick the Right Memory Care Community

It’s important to note—no two memory care communities are alike. Every community is unique and will have its own strengths, personality, and approach to treatment. 

Before making a decision, it’s essential to schedule tours with potential communities nearby to see what they’re like. Then, ask the following questions so you can gain a proper understanding of what life will resemble for your loved one.

What Is the Fee Structure?

Like any care service, memory care communities have a structured fee system. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what the fees cover. See if the following is covered underneath their standard plans:

  • Room and board
  • Personal care services
  • Medication management
  • Dietary options
  • Housekeeping services
  • Therapy programs
  • On-site amenities
  • Additional medical care
  • Emergency support

Ask for a detailed breakdown of all fees and don’t hesitate to clarify any charges that aren’t immediately clear.

What Level of Care Is Offered?

Memory care communities should offer an individualized care plan for each resident based on their unique needs and condition. No two people are alike, and dementia can affect everyone a little differently. Try to find a community that employs a team with extensive training in supporting older adults with dementia.

Make sure to ask about how the care plans are designed. Do they follow a one-size-fits-all approach, or will they perform a thorough analysis to determine how to help your loved one? Will care plans change as your loved one’s needs adjust, or will the plan stay rigid?

How Is the Physical Layout?

The physical environment of a memory care community can greatly affect your loved one’s well-being. Make sure to check:

  • Whether or not the environment is easy to navigate
  • The organization of the community
  • The on-site safety measures
  • Any potential hazards
  • Whether or not the community is welcoming and engaging
  • How the staff and residents interact with one another

What Security Measures Are in Place?

Dementia often causes behavioral changes and disorientation. This makes it essential for potential communities to have security measures in place to keep your loved one safe and free from potential hazards.

Find out if the community offers round-the-clock security staff, or any other surveillance system to check in on residents.  Ask about how they handle residents who might become disoriented or agitated, and see if there’s a secure outdoor area for fresh air and recreation—and how residents are kept safe while out and about.

Finally, ask about their emergency protocols. What procedures do they follow for medical and non-medical emergencies, and how will they communicate with you?

What Programs, Services, & Amenities Are Available?

Life in a memory care community should be fulfilling and enjoyable. So when considering potential options, look for a community that offers a wide variety of programs, services, and amenities for their residents.

These can significantly improve your loved one’s quality of life by giving them a supportive, engaging, and connected environment.

A senior and his older adult daughter smiling and talking to each other while holding a cup of tea.

Choose the Right Community for Your Loved One

Memory care can be an excellent way to get a loved one support for cognitive decline. But it’s essential you choose the right community. Look for a place that goes the extra mile and believes in caring for each and every resident—like our community here at Barton House Nashville. 

Together, we can take the first step toward finding them a place that feels like home. We’re here to help support your loved one with their unique needs, so book a tour with us today! 

Written by Melanie Wallace

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