How Memory Care has Evolved
At one point, providing care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia meant simply designing a place where the person couldn’t wander off. Staff focused on meeting the basic needs of the person, but there wasn’t much attention given to preserving the memory.
Today’s memory care has changed the way people look at patients with dementia and how they provide for them. Memory care is a specialized area of assisted living centers which is designed specifically for people with memory issues.
One of the most important aspects of memory care and the way it has advanced over the years is the unique design of these units. The layout makes it easier for patients to find their way around with no long dark corridors which can cause confusion. Nurses are often located in common areas so they can watch patients instead of being hidden back in an office.
Hallways are painted in bright colors to make it easier for the person to find their way back. Gathering areas allow more communication with others and socialization such as game rooms, libraries and spas. Increased use of natural lighting creates a bright area that is inviting to residents.
Gated courtyards allow patients to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and nature while keeping them in a locked area for safety. Many of these centers have garden areas where the residents can work in the dirt and enjoy lovely flowers or go for short walks.
A New Attitude
These memory care centers have created a new attitude in patient care. The environment is more like a hotel than a hospital with services for the residents and their guests. There may be individual apartments where residents can be as independent as possible in safe environment.
Activities are planned to stimulate the patients without overwhelming them. There may be games, music, crafts and other fun projects planned to give residents something to look forward to. Many of the activities chosen have been shown in studies to help with memory retention.
Technology has improved patient care, and nowhere is that more evident than in dementia care. Sensors can be used to keep track of wandering patients while allowing them freedom to move around. Monitors allow the person to go about their normal routines while family members watch or check in to make sure they are doing fine.
Some applications allow family members to make changes even when they aren’t with the person. They connect devices to a smartphone so the family can turn off the stove, lights or even adjust the thermostat if the loved one should forget. These gadgets can provide peace of mind for the family while still enabling the senior loved one to remain independent.
Memory care has advanced to the point where it not only provides physical care for people who have been diagnosed with dementia, but it improves their quality of life. It can even help delay memory loss and sharpen memory skills to keep them enjoying life and their family.