What Exactly Is Memory Care?
Memory care communities differ greatly from assisted living communities. The residents in memory care have specific and serious memory-related needs. They may not remember who they are from day to day and may get frustrated walking around spaces that they’ve lived in for a while but now feel unfamiliar. They may be prone to wandering off the premises and can pose a danger to themselves and to others, especially if they get aggressive when frustrated.
The approach in memory care is different, and so are many design considerations. For instance, people with memory problems may get frustrated when confronted with a door they cannot get through, so many memory care communities have circular walkways where residents will not encounter doors or other obstacles to wandering. Likewise, touching something that doesn’t match how it looks can be scary (for example, seeing a table that looks like it’s made of wood but isn’t wood to the touch). Reputable memory care facilities try to devote a good deal of attention to factors such as:
- Consistent lighting that avoids shadows
- Circular walkways
- Locked exits that prevent off-site wandering
- Activities reminiscent of eras that unlock residents’ memories
To expand on the last one, an assisted living facility might have a social room that is filled with spaces for arts and crafts, jigsaw puzzles and board games. A memory care facility might instead have spaces devoted to child care (dressing and feeding lifelike dolls) and office work (“working” at a desk with a few office supplies). It may also have music therapy sessions in which residents listen to songs from their younger days.
Can You Get Memory Care in Assisted Living?
So, back to the worries about your forgetfulness. You think you’re okay in assisted living for the time being, but what if you might need memory care soon?
You cannot get memory care in assisted living, but there are many communities that incorporate spectrums of care. For instance, there are places that offer assisted living, nursing home care and memory care. Each type of care takes place in its own wing or building, but because you’re in the same general place, transitioning from one stage to the next can be easier. The decor shares many commonalities, and there can be the same familiar staffers’ faces no matter where you are. It’s also generally easier on residents’ friends and relatives. Not only can they consistently visit the same place, they don’t have to make new decisions and tours every few years as to where you might live. This can be helpful for you as well if you are trying to plan out your options in advance.
Of course, some degree of forgetfulness is normal with aging and does not necessarily indicate serious problems down the road. In any case, it’s always a good idea to visit the doctor if you are concerned about your memory.