What is Memory Care (or Memory Support)?
Memory loss caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can lead to personality changes, irritability, and wandering. These changes can be difficult to cope with and create a sense of fear and frustration. However, senior living communities are expertly designed with the overall goal of reducing fear-related anxiety and promoting a better quality of life for their residents.
Senior living communities are committed to providing their residents with an engaging atmosphere and a safe and comfortable environment. This focus is even more important for older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as the state of their surroundings is often associated with their well-being.
Memory care programming emphasizes the importance of environmental factors in a resident’s quality of life. Daily routines, socialization and activities, nutrition, and safety can all impact the well-being of an individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of this advanced programming is focusing on comfort, emotional well-being while providing joy in daily life.
What Environmental Factors Affect a Resident’s Quality of Life?
Senior living communities whose environment offers engagement provides meaningful success for those who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Actions as simple as gardening or handyman work bring purpose and fulfillment. What did the person enjoy doing before the diagnosis? The idea behind this is that these pursuits create feelings of belonging and purpose while helping preserve the resident’s identity and sense of self.
Care is also becoming more individualized to match the spectrum of symptoms each patient experiences related to each stage of the disease. Together, this personalized care and engaging environment can lead to a higher quality of life for residents, including better nutrition, reduced falls and injuries, greater independence, and the opportunity for social interaction.
Safety and security are a crucial part of memory care. Senior living communities dedicated to memory care are often designed by dementia experts to decrease wandering and elopement. The building layout may be set up into circular neighborhoods and hallways color-coded or themed to assist with navigation, certain lighting provides a sense of calm, and memory boxes are placed outside of residents’ rooms to help them recall memories better. The goal of these measures is to help lower stress triggers.
Creating a routine decreases stress triggers as well because older adults suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease thrive on familiarity. Familiar faces, environment, and food help people from becoming distracted and forgetting what they were doing. Over time, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease gradually lose the ability to plan, initiate, or complete an activity and therefore experience greater difficulty when attempting to do new things. However, a routine can go a long way in creating a sense of comfort and control.
Socialization is a major consideration of any senior living community as it provides a sense of connectedness and self-worth. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, social interaction is an essential part of one’s brain health. Studies show that people with a broader network of connections in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s can slow down the progression of memory loss more so that those whose network is very small. Ultimately, it helps older adults perform daily tasks and enhances focus.
Senior living communities offer residents the opportunity to participate in many social activities. Many of these activities are designed around a resident’s past interests to help them reconnect with their memories, including art classes, gardening, listening to music, playing games, and exercise classes. Music specifically, is a portal to access memories, emotions, and connections that are difficult to grasp otherwise. A certain song can provide joy as it takes a resident back to a specific point in time.
Lastly, adequate nutrition is an important aspect of memory care. Being in a social environment can enhance the overall experience of eating and promote an increased appetite. Assisted and independent living communities offer family-style dining, menus designed to address a lack of appetite, and contrast between food and plate color so residents can see the food better. These approaches help increase food and essential nutrient consumption.
Memory Care is Essential for a Resident’s Health and Quality of Life
Overall, memory care programming is beneficial because it allows residents to be independent and reconnect with their memories while helping put you as family members at ease knowing your loved one is in a safe and nurturing environment.
Click to learn more about memory support services provided by Traditions’ communities. Interested in asking questions or taking a tour? Please contact us online or at the community nearest you or your loved one.