What is Memory Care?
Mind and memory care is a type of senior living offering designed to meet the unique needs of older adults with memory impairment, including varying forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other neurological conditions that impact mobility or cognition, such as Parkinson’s disease.
These programs can be offered within a standalone community caring exclusively for those with memory care needs, or as a dedicated program within an assisted living community that also provides accommodations for more independent individuals as part of a continuum of care. As those with neurological conditions can be prone to wandering, mobility issues, forgetfulness and compromised senses that impact their overall safety, memory care programs focus on providing a secure, adaptive environment.
Benchmark provides each mind and memory resident with a personalized care plan designed to meet their own unique needs. Residents benefit from one face of care – a designated team of associates to provide much-needed familiarity, understanding and comfort with day-to-day activities. These individuals lead with compassion and patience and provide a direct communications line to families to stay connected and informed.
The better memory care programs, such as Benchmark’s mind and memory care program, have specially trained staff and programs that go beyond providing care. Our programs help connect residents to memories and encourage expression through various senses. Through collaborative storytelling, memory boxes and Zen programming to facilitate relaxation, our programs use multi-sensory approaches to make connections. We have used research to create therapeutic and sensory dining experiences that support residents’ current capabilities while engaging all senses and aiming to preserve short and long-term memory.
At Benchmark Senior Living mind & memory care communities, individuals are celebrated, and personal connections are created — with endless opportunities to live in the moment, while cherishing memories of the past.
How do communities help memory care residents feel secure?
As a loved one’s disease progresses, they may begin to wander, which is a common but dangerous behavior.
Security is provided in communities in several ways. First, mind and memory care neighborhoods are a secure environment. Benchmark’s communities offer subtle electronic security, so residents don’t feel confined. Visual cues are also used to help direct residents’ attention to living spaces, fun programs and outdoor spaces instead of exits. All of our mind and memory care neighborhoods, as well as and each resident apartment, are arranged in a dementia-friendly way.
At Benchmark communities, we provide our residents with routine and structured days filled with meaningful experiences. We also offer enclosed, secure outdoor courtyards, so residents always have access to go outside.
How do memory care communities help improve nutrition?
It is common for dementia to compromise senses, so individuals often have difficulty smelling, tasting or seeing. Also, neurological changes may make it difficult to hold or manage utensils or cups and may pose other problems, which often leads to weight loss. Sometimes individuals have a hard time focusing on their meal or sitting still long enough to eat it. Mind and memory care communities have specialized dining programs designed to address these challenges.
At Benchmark, we focus on creating an environment at mealtime that stimulates all senses, with things like freshly baked bread and soothing music, while eliminating other distractions. We also provide different colored plates, so there is a contrast with the food on the plate so our residents can see it and it appears more appetizing. Special adaptive mugs allow for easier grip and tables are supplied with easy-to-see and handle condiments. In addition, we offer assistance with eating, cuing and texture-modified diets where food is pureed and re-shaped back into its original form.
How do memory care residents stay active and engaged?
The best memory care programs provide structured days filled with meaningful experiences—experiences that that are based on interviews and discovery sessions with our residents, and that which nurture our residents’ passions, connections and enhance their quality of life.
Using our award-winning communication techniques, we provide memory care residents with therapeutic one-on-one and group experiences throughout each day, as well as stimulating features throughout our communities. Programs like music and art therapy, off-site trips and things like journey stations and treasure chests, encourage reminiscing.
What should families look for when touring a memory care community?
Overall, the most important factors include gaining a deep understanding of company values, staff and resident engagement, and genuine empathy for the aging experience. These kinds of things require time, so multiple visits are recommended.
If you are visiting during mealtime, observe how interested residents seem in their meal, what support and adaptive tools are offered to make the experience easier and more enjoyable for them, and the food’s nutritional quality.
Do the residents look well cared for and dressed appropriately for the season? Caregiver relationships with residents play a key factor in the quality of care. Do these interactions seem positive and supportive? Or do caregivers seem rushed and stressed?
Also, try to schedule a visit during a time when a life enrichment experience is taking place. This will help you gauge how good a job the community does in creating meaningful, productive days.
Do communities have an open-door policy for visitors?
We always welcome visits from family and friends. However, those with memory loss thrive on structure and routine, so it’s always best to consult with a community to determine the absolute best time to visit your loved one.
What are the signs it’s time to move into a community?
While the signs it’s time for a change are different for everyone, a few common ones include increased wandering, unintentional weight loss or the inability to stay engaged in activities they usually enjoy. Caregiver stress is another common sign. When the caregiver’s physical health suffers or they are unable to maintain a sufficient quality of life, it may be time to consider a move. The care providers at memory care communities, such as Benchmark’s, are dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with memory impairment.
How much does mind and memory care cost?
The cost of mind and memory care can vary widely depending upon the community’s location, its amenities, services provided, etc. Contact the communities you are interested in to be sure you are comparing apples to apples. You may be willing to pay a little extra for amenities and additional care to help your loved one age well without having to make transitions. Understanding how they structure their fees, provide care, and if they are able to care for your loved one as the disease progresses and additional costs will help you compare your options.
Why is mind and memory care more expensive than assisted living?
Those living with memory loss generally require more care and assistance than someone who is higher functioning and therefore, the costs associated with operating a mind and memory care community are much higher. Specialized associate training, dining and uniquely designed life enrichment programs all help improve the quality of life for an adult with dementia, but each one also makes the program more expensive.
If money is a concern, there may be financial solutions available that you might not be aware of. Contact our Financial Concierge if you are interested in exploring options.
Does Medicare pay for mind and memory care?
Although most of the cost is not covered by Medicare, it is possible that some of the fees associated with memory care may be covered. Consult the Benchmark Financial Concierge for additional details.
Some services may be subject to additional fees and amenities and services may vary by community. Please consult a specific location for additional information.