Posted: July 6, 2020
Discovering that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many questions to consider, and you may not even be aware of the options available for memory care.
One of the initial questions you might encounter is whether or not you should consider a memory care community. If you decide to do this, you should be aware of the options you have concerning memory care in senior living communities.
Every community has its own unique traits and characteristics, but there are consistencies between communities as well. One consistent trait of memory care communities is that they are all either “freestanding” on their own or exist within a larger neighborhood. There are pros and cons to both and educating yourself on them will allow you to make the best decision for your loved one.
Many Senior Living communities have all three levels of care; independent living, assisted living, and memory care in one community. The memory care neighborhood can be a small subset within the larger community. The staff in the neighborhood are typically trained to care for people with different types of dementia.
These memory care neighborhoods are safe and secure, protecting their residents from wandering. They have their own dining areas and common spaces to allow the residents to move about freely and participate in activities.
Neighborhoods offer definite benefits to married couples. If one resident has no memory related condition, but the other has been diagnosed with a type of dementia, they may still live in the same community and be in close contact with one another.
Neighborhoods also offer continuum of care options. Many of the residents that live in Assisted Living do have some form of dementia, but they are not yet in need of the security and care that the memory care neighborhood offers. When the time comes that they need the expertise and security the staff can work with the family to make the transition into the memory care neighborhood.
Freestanding communities refer to memory care communities that only serve residents with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. These communities do not have assisted living or independent living residents that do not have dementia. They boast expertise on the grounds that “memory care is all we do”. Every staff member, from groundskeepers to care workers, are trained specifically to work with memory related illnesses.
Freestanding memory care communities tend to be smaller overall, averaging around 30-65 residents total. Because freestanding communities only serve residents with memory related issues, they can keep residents in groups of peers who are in similar stages of their illness.
For instance, stages of Alzheimer’s disease can look significantly different from one another. If someone is at an early stage, they may get very overwhelmed having to constantly be around individuals who are at a much later stage, or vice versa. So, keeping residents grouped with peers resolves this and is typically only possible in a freestanding community.
Which is best?
This question can only be answered by you and your loved one. There is no objective “better option” between freestanding and neighborhood memory care. Instead, you should think about the positive attributes named above, the types of people who are most likely to benefit from these options and consider which category you or your loved one fall into.
In either case, both options can be great, so long as the community itself takes memory care seriously! The issue should not be finding a good memory care community, it should be finding the best community that suits your or your loved one’s unique needs and desires!