Memory Care Assisted Living

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People are living longer – the average lifespan now being 85 years old. And, as baby boomers begin to retire, a larger segment of the population is facing old age. One out of every four boomers reaching age 65 will live past the age of 90, and one-tenth of them past the age of 95. Up to half of all people over the age of 85 or older may have some form of dementia. With age being one of the factors leading to the development of dementia, it’s easy to see that the number of people who will be facing memory loss is substantial.

Memory loss can have multiple causes. It is often caused by dementia, with 50-80% of dementia cases being the result of Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes of memory loss include traumatic brain injury, stroke, alcohol and drug abuse, and other diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Even mild memory loss can cause serious problems. Incidents of misplacing keys or forgetting to pay bills can be frustrating; but, forgetting to turn off stoves and heaters or getting lost can become life-threatening. Safety concerns often make memory care a necessity. If you or a loved one suspects a memory loss problem, contact a medical professional for an evaluation. When you’re ready, you can use our directory to locate a memory care facility in your area.

About Memory Loss

As people age, their brain cells die more quickly than they can be replaced. This slowly impacts their ability to remember things such as someone’s name or where they put their car keys, making “senior moments” a normal part of the aging process. However, significant memory problems are another matter entirely and should be discussed with a medical professional.

Although dementia is more common in older adults, it is not a normal part of the aging process.

Dementia occurs when a larger number of specific brain cells die, once-healthy brain cells stop working, or brain cells lose connections with other brain cells. More brain cells are affected with dementia than with the normal aging process that leads to “senior moments.”

When a medical professional uses the term “memory loss,” it’s usually in conjunction with dementia. Many diseases fall under the dementia umbrella including:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, gradually causes an irreversible deterioration in memory and thinking skills.
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies, also called Lewy Body dementia, is related to Alzheimer’s and is the second most prevalent type of progressive dementia.
  • Vascular dementia is often caused by a series of mini-strokes (TIAs)
  • Mixed dementia occurs when a person is experiencing more than one type of dementia simultaneously, such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia.
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is the stage between the normal cognitive decline associated with aging and the more comprehensive cognitive deterioration of dementia.
  • Huntington’s Disease, commonly considered a motor disorder, can have cognitive symptoms that progress into dementia.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, which develops approximately ten years from the onset of Parkinson’s, causes a decline in memory, concentration and judgment.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia is an umbrella term for a distinct group of uncommon disorders that affect the areas of the brain (frontal and temporal lobes) that are associated with personality, language and behavior.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a rare, fatal brain disorder that causes a type of dementia that gets worse unusually fast.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, caused by a severe thiamine deficiency often (but not always) related to alcohol abuse, is a brain disorder involving two separate phases – Wernicke encephalopathy followed by Korsakoff psychosis.
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus is relatively rare and develops when excess fluid accumulates in the brain. Its symptoms include dementia, difficulty walking and urinary incontinence.

Dementia is a general term that describes a deterioration in mental processes caused by disease or injury to the brain that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It’s characterized by problems with memory, impaired reasoning and personality changes.

Dementia, which affects cognitive function (memory, thought processes and reasoning), generally begins to affect a person’s functioning slowly and then advances to more severe stages causing a person to depend completely upon others for basic activities of daily living (ADLs).

Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, but memory loss alone doesn’t signify dementia. Dementia can also affect thought processes and reasoning, impact a person’s emotions, change their personality, and may cause delusions and hallucinations.

The following signs are not consistent with normal memory loss and may indicate dementia:

  • Experiencing forgetfulness much more frequently than normal
  • Repeating the same stories in the same conversation
  • Experiencing difficulties remembering how to do things you have done many times previously
  • Having trouble learning new things
  • Having trouble making decisions or choices
  • Experiencing trouble handling money, such as paying bills
  • Losing track of what happens each day

Although there is no cure for memory loss associated with dementia, there are memory care options. As a person experiences the cognitive decline associated with dementia, they will eventually require 24-hour supervision.

What is Memory Care?

At first, someone with memory problems may be able to live at home with help from loved ones who, in turn, get support and assistance from:

  • Family members and friends
  • Paid in-home care providers
  • Adult day care programs

But as dementia progresses, needs increase beyond those that can be provided by a spouse or other unpaid caregiver. Eventually, memory care in a facility may be the best option for all concerned.

Designed to meet the specialized needs of a person dealing with memory loss, memory care is a distinct type of long-term care. A structured environment (with well-defined, planned and organized routines and schedules) is the foundation upon which memory care is built.

Additionally, memory care facilities provide the following services and amenities:

  • A private or semi-private room
  • Twenty-four hour supervised care provided by expert staff educated to accommodate for the unique challenges of memory loss
  • Programs to cultivate memory/cognitive skills, social skills, and health/exercise programs
  • Secure “locked down” accommodations with carefully monitored exits to prevent elopement
  • Safety features to accommodate and compensate for memory loss including emergency call systems
  • Assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, mobility and hygiene assistance
  • Access to medical care
  • Medication management
  • Three daily meals and snacks
  • Cognitive and physical therapies
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Transportation services

Goals of memory care should include:

  • Working to slow the progression of memory loss
  • Providing an atmosphere that allows the resident to feel a sense of satisfaction, joy and purpose on a daily basis
  • Providing an environment that keeps the resident engaged, safe and comfortable

Memory care facilities include specialized nursing homes or specialized areas within nursing homes, specialized memory care areas in assisted living communities or memory care specific facilities. Although all states regulate and license senior care facilities, memory care is only regulated in approximately 50% of states in the US; therefore, it’s critical to compare facilities carefully before making a final decision.

Choosing any out of home placement can be hard and emotionally exhausting but taking the time to thoroughly research your options can may a huge difference in your loved one’s quality of life and can impact your family’s financial security. Our directory will guide you as you begin the process of locating memory care facilities in your area.