If you are a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, your main goal is probably to keep him or her at home for as long as possible. Why? Because you made a promise that you wouldn’t send them to “one of those homes”.
And who can blame you? It isn’t hard to conjure up images of people in wheelchairs, parked in front of a table full of bingo cards or attempting to cut out silly paper hats they would never wear 5 years ago.
Things have changed dramatically. Because we, too, share those images and those concerns.
What’s happening is that we are getting better at understanding the “aging” process as research uncovers new insights and approaches to caring for our older loved ones. A new breed of senior care providers is emerging led by people, like you and us, who are committed to a new kind of care. We call it person-centered care and it replaces, once and for all, the de-humanizing, one-size-fits-all care model of yesterday.
Let’s look at 4 common issues that many families have and discover how the right memory care provider addresses them:
- “She/he’s not a social person.” No one should be pushed into an environment they are uncomfortable in. A good memory care provider will take the time to understand as much about your loved one as possible. If they are not a “social animal”, there are plenty of soothing and memory-enhancing activities that he or she will enjoy. It might be music, a special video or computer activity or a relaxing stroll in a garden or park.
- “He/she’s never been a joiner.” That’s fine. To be honest, most people are not. We don’t consider a memory care community as a place for “joiners”. Clubs are something you join. A good community is a living environment where individual privacy and dignity is respected above all else.
- “He/she won’t want to eat with a bunch of people every day.” Many people prefer not to eat at a table with others. Your memory care community should be able to provide alternatives, such as counter space, a small table for one, or even a private meal in his or her suite.
- "My mother/dad is still high functioning and is used to being around a group of people her/his own age.” A thriving memory care community will include individuals at all levels of cognitive awareness. Quality caregivers are trained to be able to assess an individual’s capabilities and introduce them to others who will provide the social stimulation needed for them to maintain a higher level of function.
As you evaluate each of the above, take this into consideration as well: Research continues to show that memory impaired individuals do better in socialized environments than in isolated home care environments. That’s because their senses are continuously being stimulated around different people and situations, fostering a stronger sense of connectedness to those around them.
The right community is out there for your loved one.
So, even if you’re reluctant to consider a memory care community, you owe it to yourself to visit one and see for yourself how the care model has changed. Challenge them! Ask tough questions about how your loved one’s individual personality will be respected. Ask if they provide truly “person-centered” care. Find out if they offer daily engagements that cover a broad range of personal tastes and that keep in mind your loved one’s education level, prior lifestyle and unique personality traits.
Remember, a good memory care community is just that - a community. Reserved, outgoing, independent, sociable, sophisticated, salt-of-the-earth; all personality traits and preferences should be respected and the dignity of each individual preserved. It’s what we, at Anthem, believe “community” is all about.