At any stage of our lives, selecting a new place to live can be a complex decision. It becomes exponentially more challenging when we’re making the decision with or for a loved one with memory loss, who will need expert assistance and support on a long-term basis.
There are myriad questions to ask when choosing a memory care community for your loved one. We suggest you begin your evaluation here:
How Does the Memory Care Community View Seniors?
Before you start asking specific questions about caregivers, programs, food, etc., take a look at the broader picture. What is the memory care community’s philosophy and objectives?
At The Kensington Sierra Madre, for example, we are committed to a continuity of care. Whether our residents move into assisted living when they decide they would benefit from some regular support, or come to one of our memory care neighborhoods when the need arises, they are able to age in place, safely and fully supported, for as long as they want or need. We offer a full spectrum of clinical support, including end-of-life care.
Look for a memory care community that:
- Supports each resident to live as independently as possible for as long as possible
- Encourages family participation
- Champions dignity and self-respect
- Provides peace of mind
- Provides expert medical support with minimal pharmaceutical intervention
- Helps residents remain engaged and aware as much as possible.
What is The Living Environment Like?
Next, look at the physical environment in which your loved one will be living. Even the best memory care can’t substitute for a living space that is inadequate or unpleasant.
Look for a space that features:
- A simple floor plan with visual cues to help residents remain oriented
- Non-skid floors in all rooms, especially bathrooms
- Easily accessible common bathrooms that are ADA compliant
- Individual units that are secure, yet cheerful and calm
- Dedicated dining, activity and private areas
- Ideally, an enclosed courtyard or other outdoor walking area
- Good lighting in hallways and common areas
- Hallway cues to help residents identify their rooms.
At The Kensington, we offer a selection of floor plans for residents to choose among, as well as two distinct “neighborhoods” for customized memory care:
- Connections serves seniors in the early to mid-stage of dementia care, providing a secure environment to maximize safety, in an intimate, homelike living space that fosters calm and comfort.
- Haven is for middle to late-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia residents, who require a higher level of assistance and care. With adaptive design, we’re able to provide maximum safety while enabling memory care residents to engage in ways that are meaningful, soothing, and pleasing for them.
Care Assessment and Staffing
Once the community itself appears suitable, it’s time to look at the specifics of care. It’s important that your loved one has an individualized plan of care. You may want to ask:
- How are the residents assessed? How often is the assessment repeated to determine if there’s been any change?
- Who is involved in the planning process (ideally the physician, family, and the elder resident, if they are capable)
- Is the support staff well educated in how to care for people with different degrees of memory impairment?
- Is there a high staff-to-resident ratio? (1:7 or better)
- What is the level of staff turnover?
- Does the residence utilize an interdisciplinary approach?
At The Kensington Sierra Madre, in addition to round-the-clock loving care and support, we provide relevant clinical services. A full-time R.N. coordinates the comprehensive nursing and medical care of each resident. Licensed nurses staff the community 24/7 and provide medication. We also offer on-site rehabilitation services when needed, through our partnership with HealthPRO Heritage.
When you are seriously considering a particular community, it’s also wise to make several unscheduled visits at various times, such as during dinner or at night. Does the food look appetizing? Are the residents eating? Is staff paying attention to their needs?
Are Residents Provided With Good Nutrition — And Choice?
Speaking of mealtimes, you may know that people with memory loss often need to be encouraged to eat. Memory care staff should be skilled in finding creative ways to support residents in eating well.
For instance, because music greatly helps those with memory loss, an iPod playing a resident’s favorite songs may help him to remain calm and focus on the meal. Or, if a resident is highly distractible and tends to want to wander around at mealtime, the solution might be to make her meal portable by placing it in a take-out container or ice cream waffle bowl. Ingenuity is the watchword in memory care.
Investigate whether the memory care community you’re considering:
- Tailors nutrition plans for each individual’s needs and capabilities
- Supplies adaptive utensils if needed
- Offers a variety of menu options
- Provides healthy between-meal snacks
- Encourages family members to join residents for meals.
The Kensington Sierra Madre is renowned for our exceptional attention to resident dining. Menu selections are diverse, and we pay special attention to the needs of those with memory loss. In addition to tailored nutrition plans, Chef Dusko and our dining services team can puree meals to make them more accessible to residents.
Do Memory Care Residents Appear Content?
Finally, are the seniors who dwell in the community doing well? As you observe, ask yourself:
- Are the residents engaged?
- Well groomed?
- Are there enough diverse activities to keep them mentally stimulated at their specific level of ability?
Notice the resident-staff interaction.
- Are staff members attentive to the residents? Do they know their names?
- How does staff respond to behavior changes, such as sundown syndrome?
The Kensington Sierra Madre is focused on our residents’ strengths. We find ways to support people where they are, and find beauty in the moment.
When you find a memory care community that fulfills all of these checklists, you’ll know your loved one is home. Come visit us as we begin the new year, and let us show you why The Kensington Sierra Madre may be the perfect new living environment for your loved one now.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- 10 Seasonal Activities Seniors Will Love
- When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s: How to Celebrate the Holidays
- Preserving Your Loved One’s Memories
- How Assisted Living Can Keep Your Loved One Safe
- Why Dental Health Is Crucial For Seniors
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Seniors Need to Know