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A dementia diagnosis can introduce a range of difficult emotions and a series of tough decisions that you and your loved ones will need to navigate together. Though the road ahead to finding a treatment plan that will keep a senior with dementia and their loved ones safe, healthy, and happy may be unique for each family, there are several key resources and qualities that a top-notch dementia care community can provide, offering a place of not only comfort, but education and understanding.

As you begin to look at dementia care (also known as memory care) communities in the Fairfax, Virginia, area, you can use the following advice to help you choose the one that will be right for you and your family throughout the next phase of your dementia journey.

Prioritize a Comfortable and Safe Environment

Everything is rated and reviewed these days, and so knowing where to start looking for a quality community that is right for you, your loved one, and your family can be overwhelming. Therefore, when you first begin your search for a dementia care community, a good place to start is to prioritize comfort and safety.

So what does this actually mean? Start with the environment, design, and layout of the community. Does it feel homelike, comfortable, and vibrant? Do the spaces — from the dining room, to the nursing station, to the residential areas — all blend together with the feel of the community? Are there spaces for friends and groups to meet and socialize?

At the same time, when addressing the needs of those who require dementia care, keep your eyes open for safety features that minimize risk and dangers. Look for well-lit and secure doors, as well as easy access to support from staff, based on the type of need. Finally, what kind of safety education and training programs does the community offer to reinforce precautions so that help can be there when it is needed?

Look for Well-Trained and Experienced Staff

Though a comfortable and relaxed environment is key, it is the staff that can really set a dementia care community apart. Research what type of training and experience levels staff must have, especially to learn whether they go beyond what is just federally and locally required. How often is this training reinforced? What type of training and new skills are taught throughout the year so that staff remain knowledgeable about new findings and techniques?

At the same time, you can learn a lot about the “ethos” of a dementia care community by listening closely to the words and phrases they use. Do they look for ways to put the needs and desires of the resident first? Do they ask for preferences in a treatment plan? What types of resources, activities, and programs are offered and available, and do they encourage family involvement?

Seek an Engaging Community

There is a difference between a full calendar that’s just meant to keep residents busy, and a community that offers meaningful and engaging activities that are organized and facilitated by the staff and are actually appealing to residents. Ask to review past and upcoming activities to make sure that there are activities and groups that are appealing, as well as opportunities to go out into the larger community and experience new spaces and events.

To take this even further, look for communities that offer residents ample time to get involved in programs that will not only keep them active, but also empower them and add to their treatment and therapeutic programs.

Focus on Quality

When you have had a chance to experience the environment, meet and learn about the staff, and understand the types of activities that the community may offer, be sure not to overlook other important features, such as those that promote dignity and independence. For example, excellent dementia care communities know that nutrition is an important part of the treatment and experience of residents, especially if they are paired with an environment that helps residents to connect with one another. Look for varied menus, offering a blend of comfort foods with nutritional options that residents can choose from.

The path toward finding a dementia care community can be difficult, but by focusing on the staff, environment, activities, and details like dining and nutrition, you and your loved ones will be off to an excellent start to finding the right place for your situation. Fortunately, Arbor Terrace Fairfax offers all of these features in one location (take a second to check out our photo gallery) in which you and your loved ones can thrive. To learn more about our community, or for help finding the perfect place to call home, contact us here.

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Kellyn May

About the Author: Kellyn May

"I’ve dedicated my career to senior care by providing comfort, education and support to families with aging relatives. I completed my Bachelors at Virginia Tech in Human Development and my Masters at George Mason University in Senior Housing Administration. I spend my time outside of the office with my husband, daughter and my dog, Truffles. I can talk all things DC sports and Beauty and the Beast."

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