Rethinking Assisted Living

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is devastating news to any family, and often pushes spouses, adult children and siblings into crisis mode. The pressures for making immediate decisions about caretaking and new living situations can suddenly seem paramount and overwhelming. Most people are reluctant to relinquish the care of their loved one to someone else.

We are excited however, to see the development of residential communities especially designed for Alzheimer’s and memory impaired seniors, and we urge our clients to take a second look at how these communities are being shaped around their needs.

There are compelling reasons why we believe memory care assisted living is worthy of fresh consideration:

  • Caregivers are better trained than ever. Assisted living caregivers must have patience, understanding, compassion and experience working with people who have memory loss and most are specially trained in Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They are skilled at planning daily schedules to establish important structure and routines that reduce stress.  Family members often cling to memories of how their loved one used to be and also have deep emotional ties that a professional caregiver doesn’t have. This often allows a professional caregiver to more effectively provide care to meet an individual’s current and unique set of needs, abilities and limitations.
  • Environments are expertly designed. This, perhaps, is where some of the most significant innovation has taken place in memory care assisted living. There is a trend, to put “home” into these environments wherever possible. Some examples are that: caregivers do not wear uniforms, apartment doors are real doors, and “memory boxes” contain personal memorabilia to help residents recognize their apartment. Living rooms with working fireplaces, visual cues and specialized lighting, gardens and walking paths, and comfortable dining areas are all part of the intentional design to make residents more attuned to the natural rhythms of day and night. These home like environments are serving as holistic medicine, and proof that “place” matters in dementia care, especially in reducing anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and agitation.
  • Safety and Security are Paramount. Memory care assisted livings provide enhanced safety features that are otherwise not present in people’s homes. This should give great comfort to families, siblings and spouses who wrestle with the question, “are we making the right decision?” Everything from anti-slip flooring in bathrooms, and rounded countertops, to secured entryways and deftly designed apartment are all part of the well-planned environments. Medication management, 24/7 on site and awake Certified Nursing Assistants, and the protocols of how the community manages behaviors when a resident feels agitated are all part of the safety procedures.

While there is truly no place like home, evidence suggests that seniors with significant memory impairment are able to maintain more independence, freedom of choice within their daily lives and feel less stress and anxiety in these specially designed memory care communities. Given these important perspectives, perhaps it might be worth new consideration.

 

2Sisters Senior Living Advisors is a resource to seniors and families navigating the growing maze of choices in independent living, assisted living, memory care communities, home care and skilled nursing facilities. The company provides this as a free service because it is compensated by providers when clients act of their recommendations. The company has been serving clients in Norfolk, Plymouth, Middlesex, Barnstable and Bristol Counties since 2010.

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