The time may come when you can no longer care for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at home. They may now need around-the-clock care or perhaps certain behaviors have started and you may not be able to meet all of his or her needs at home anymore. When that happens, you may want to explore memory care programs and search for the right type of memory care. It is very natural to feel guilty about this decision, but transitioning your loved one to a memory care community is probably the best thing to do. It will alleviate the overwhelming responsibility of being a caregiver and give you peace of mind knowing that your loved one is safe and cared for.
The next step is choosing the right place to call home, and this is a big decision. It’s hard to know where to start. Remember that you can be a helpful advocate for your loved one and ensure their wishes are carried through. Knowing ahead of time what key features to look for when exploring memory care programs in Basking Ridge, NJ will help you both determine which is the best community to call home.
Perhaps one of the most important considerations will be the people on staff who attend to your loved one each day. Look for a community with highly trained staff specializing in the most cutting edge memory care best practices. Most high-quality memory care communities will have medical personnel such as RNs and/or LPNs on staff to oversee physical and medical needs throughout the day.
You will also want to ask about staff turnover because communities with more consistent staff members tend to foster better personal relationships and care. Additionally the lower the staff to resident ratio the better. The best communities will promote resident safety through a 1:6 staff to resident ratio (or better).
Housekeeping and Personal Care
Daily routines can be increasingly more challenging for those with dementia. They may struggle to get out of bed in the morning, forget to bathe, wear the same clothes for days, or lose the ability to stay on track during simple tasks. Memory care staff are trained to support and assist residents in completing these tasks everyday. Physical hygiene such as bathing, toileting or incontinence care, daily dressing, maintaining tidy living spaces, and laundry service are core elements necessary for residents in memory care communities.
Amenities and Activities
Great memory care communities are vibrant places because they offer residents top-notch memory care while creating on-going opportunities for residents to enhance their lives. For memory care residents, this means senior living at its best: beautiful grounds and community gardens, creative opportunities for socialization as well as safely organized outings. The best communities will include activities within a range of interests and hobbies. Art, poetry, music, dancing, games, supervised cooking, sports and exercise, and social activities should all be available. All of these types of activities have been proven to slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and enhance the mood of those who suffer from cognitive decline. Since you will not be able to see every activity when you tour, here are some questions to consider asking about their activities:
- What are the daily activities like, and are they every day of the week?
- When and where do outside activities happen?
- Where do residents spend their time during the day?
As you narrow down your list, remember that memory care communities should provide a variety of rich daily activities offered throughout the day. This ensures your loved one has access to interesting and fun social simulation throughout the day.
Eating can be difficult for some seniors and this is especially true for those experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Excellent memory care communities train staff to assist residents in a way that fosters independence and dignity while providing meaningful dining experiences. A variety of delicious meals tailored to meet all health conditions should be offered. Ask about what accommodations are made for residents during meals and how they address mealtime challenges.
Individual Medical Attention
Just as every resident is unique, so are their medical needs. Health care needs of seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia require thoughtful attention to individual details to promote a peaceful environment. From medication management to personal care plans, every resident in a memory care community should receive individualized support and resources from team members trained in specialized medical cognitive care. Ask how the community will inform you of changes to your loved one’s medical needs. For example, if your loved one needs to go to the hospital, or has an accident like a fall, it is important to know how and when you will be contacted to be sure you stay informed and involved in any medical decisions that need to be made.
At the end of the day there is one important question to ask yourself and your loved one: Which community makes you feel the most safe, comfortable and secure? Be attentive to your intuition and trust your feelings. As you tour prospective communities, remember that the information they provide and getting answers to your questions are important, but so are your instincts.
With that in mind, please be sure to use our Dementia Care Checklist to help you navigate your choices. It will provide you with all the questions you will need to ask when exploring memory care programs and their key features in Basking Ridge, NJ.