According to recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 15 percent of Knox County’s approximately 465,000 residents are 65 or older. Given the Alzheimer’s Association’s statistic that one in three older adults will be diagnosed with some form of dementia, many Knox County residents will likely need memory care at some point. If you or a loved one is facing an upcoming transition to memory care, here are some things to know about your options in the Knoxville area.
1. Memory Care Is Different from Assisted Living
Both assisted living and memory care are options for seniors who prefer a community environment to living alone at home and who need some assistance with daily tasks. Assisted living, however, is designed for seniors who are able to maintain most of their independence. This option can be considered a middle ground for seniors who need a little more help than they would in independent living but don’t yet need round-the-clock attention and highly personalized care.
If that last phrase sounds familiar, memory care might be what you’re looking for. Someone with dementia may experience declines in their ability not only to remember things, but also to think clearly, to perform daily tasks, and even, in some cases, to talk. Over time, these issues can make it unsafe for a senior to live alone or to have only light supervision as they would in assisted living. Memory care offers the advanced level of care these individuals need to continue to thrive.
Most memory care facilities offer 24/7 supervision in a secure space so you can rest easy knowing that your loved one is safe. Some additional features of memory care include:
- Staff who are specially trained in dementia
- A safe living environment that minimizes risks (e.g., no stove access)
- Help with activities of daily living, including medication management
- Transportation to doctor’s appointments
- Preplanned nutritious and tasty meals
2. Memory Care Can Rejuvenate Family Relationships
When a parent, spouse, or friend begins to show signs of dementia, people often step into the role of caregiver. This is a natural instinct; when someone you love is dealing with any kind of hardship, of course you want to help in any way you can. Unfortunately, caregiver burnout is equally natural. Caregivers of loved ones with dementia often experience symptoms such as exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. Even if burnout isn’t a threat, the role of caregiver can overshadow your role as a family member or loved one.
Some people fear that moving a loved one with dementia into a memory care community is cruel, but the truth is that doing so can often strengthen or even save these crucial relationships. If you entrust your loved one’s care to professionals, you can step back into your primary role and maintain a close relationship based on love and trust, not on giving and receiving care. This can ease family conflicts, prevent guilt and shame, and improve the mental and emotional health of all involved.
3. Memory Care Communities Are Different from Memory Care Facilities
Traditional memory care facilities focus on health and safety and, as a result, can feel restrictive and even somewhat cold. By contrast, memory care communities like the one at Arbor Terrace of Knoxville aim to do more than simply keep seniors safe. The staff members at these communities recognize that a person’s sense of joy and purpose are intimately connected to their health, even if their memory isn’t as strong as it once was. They keep your loved one engaged, happy, and continually growing.
Exceptional memory care communities offer much more than traditional facilities, including:
- Dementia-appropriate activities. Research shows that participating in appropriate activities can help those with dementia increase their self-esteem, maintain higher levels of mental functionality, and even enhance their quality of life. Staff in these communities are trained to adapt fun and meaningful activities for your loved one’s abilities.
- Meaningful socialization. In assisted living and independent living — and, to a greater extent, when living at home — seniors are more or less on their own when it comes to social engagement. Because those who are dealing with memory loss may need help socializing, memory care communities make extra efforts to foster engagement and encourage residents to build relationships with one another.
- Support for physical and mental health. Research consistently shows that physical activity may slow the progression of dementia and improve symptoms, and memory care communities provide plenty of appropriate exercise options. Memory care communities also find ways to ease mental health issues that are often triggered by memory loss, such as anxiety.
4. You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Maybe you’re not sure if it’s time to seriously consider memory care for your loved one, but you don’t want to wait too long. Maybe you’re nervous about broaching the subject with a parent or spouse who may not react well. Maybe you’re ready to take the next step and look into memory care options in Knoxville, but you don’t know where to start.
The good news is that you don’t have to go through this alone. The staff at Arbor Terrace of Knoxville are always standing by to answer questions, talk you through your options, or share details about our own memory care community. Get in touch today!