When a senior loved one is diagnosed with age-related dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, choosing a memory care facility can be a challenging process. Opting for permanent placement in a senior living community like Marjorie P. Lee in Cincinnati might be the best course of action, but you’ll naturally have many questions about which care facility would be the best fit for your older relative’s needs.
We promise families that their loved ones will never be asked to leave due to financial hardship.
Today, let’s review five questions your family should ask when choosing a retirement community or memory care provider for the senior you care about.
1. Is the memory care center designed to accommodate “safe wandering”?
Wandering is a normal symptom in people with dementia — 60 percent of those with advanced dementia exhibit the behavior. Surprisingly to some, modern standards of care encourage monitored wandering in safe spaces, as it may help to preserve and extend memory and cognitive function.
Marjorie P. Lee’s memory care suite, for example, features wide, brightly lit and unobstructed corridors. Residents are not physically or chemically restrained; they’re free to walk about, engage with their surroundings, with the staff and with each other.
But they’re also closely monitored for safety. Staff members are close at hand to render any necessary assistance, to soothe or calm a resident who becomes disoriented, to provide therapeutic interventions, and keep your loved one’s out of harm’s way.
2. What’s the resident-to-staffer ratio?
Resident-to-provider ratios are strongly associated with better quality of care. The fewer residents a nurse, care assistant or geriatrician is responsible for on a shift, the more personalized time and attention he or she can spend with everyone receiving care.
The better, too, they’ll be able to monitor your loved one if he or she begins to exhibit wandering behaviors.
When you’re choosing a residential memory care community for your loved one, look for one that has fewer residents per staff member. When you visit, watch to see if staff members are actively monitoring residents’ well-being by checking on their charges at regular intervals.
3. What memory care therapies does the community provide?
Does the memory care home provide music or art therapy? Both are associated with improvements in recall, reductions in outbursts, and more reported contentment and happiness. They may even slow down dementia’s progression.
Other advanced therapies, like cognitive intervention SAIDO Learning and tablet-based Gray Matters, also “exercise” areas of the brain. Taken together, a full suite of memory care therapies may help to preserve your loved one’s cognitive function longer.
4. Does the community pay close attention to cleanliness and resident hygiene?
Cleanliness of common spaces, personal rooms and the residents themselves can be an indicator of how well a community is able to care for people who need extra help. When you visit memory care facilities in Cincinnati, make sure you’re paying attention to those factors, too.
In common areas, floors should be free of debris and dirt. Carpets should be vacuumed daily. Restrooms should be well-stocked and sparkling. Resident apartments should be neat and tidy, with made beds, clean bathrooms, laundry folded and put away and no visible dirt or debris.
Residents in a quality memory care facility should appear well put together, freshly bathed, combed and attentively groomed. Hygiene issues could indicate that a facility’s staff is overworked or under-attentive.
5. Does the community fit your family’s budget?
Will your loved one’s retirement income and/or nest egg support the monthly cost of his or her residential memory care at your first-choice community? Will it accept your relative’s long-term care insurance or Medicare supplement plan? What happens if your parent or grandparent outlives his or her resources?
At Marjorie P. Lee, and at all Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) communities, we promise families — as part of our not-for-profit, person-centered care mission — that their loved ones will never be asked to leave due to financial hardship. Care for elders who outlive their resources is subsidized by generous community donations to our Good Samaritan Mission Fund.
Ask the right questions when choosing a memory care facility for your loved one.
Make sure that you’re duly diligent in your search. By asking a lot of questions and touring facilities before you place, you can ensure that the memory care your older loved one receives will be safe and effective.
If you’re a Cincinnati or Tristate resident considering memory care placement for a parent or grandparent with Alzheimer’s or age-associated dementia, we invite you to come tour Marjorie P. Lee’s new Living Well Memory Support suite.