Caring Compassionately: How Memory Care Nurses Make a Difference
Becoming a nurse is a calling, a heart-felt desire and passion to care for others. Becoming a memory care nurse takes more than just training. At BridgeWater Memory Care, our highly trained nursing staff make all the difference in our residents’ health and well-being. For those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, memory care is a safe option to receive compassionate care while living life as fully and independently as possible.
Creating a care plan around the individual is vital for the care and nurture of people experiencing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memory care nurses play a vital role in not just creating those individualized plans but supporting residents in their daily lives. This article will help you learn more about what memory care nurses do, what training they receive, and how they make a difference in the lives of those who need them the most.
What Memory Care Nurses Do
Memory care nurses provide care and medical assistance to people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. They use various tools to monitor patient’s health and dietary needs, but they also provide a holistic type of care that isn’t typical for most nursing relationships.
Memory care nurses have some of the same responsibilities as other nurses do. They assess a person’s health and wellness, provide basic medical care, assist or even administer certain medications, coordinate additional medical care, and maintain records depending on their licensure and training. Memory care nurses can also assist in daily living activities like dressing and showers.
Memory care residents sometimes cannot communicate health changes or know something has changed. Memory care nurses use technology like CarePredict to assess health changes. Technology can help memory care nurses assess and take action before serious health issues arise.
The key difference for a memory care nurse is the deeper relationship they develop with their patients. It goes beyond just knowing someone’s name. Knowing the person’s history, accomplishments, hobbies, hopes, and dreams gives memory care nurses insight into a person. They understand that to care for someone experiencing the challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia, there must be trust, respect, and reassurance. The relationship that a memory care nurse develops with a resident ensures the resident feels seen, safe, and trusts the people caring for them.
What Special Training Do Memory Care Nurses Receive?
There are several certifications and degrees that qualify a nurse to work in a memory care residence. Some degrees require specific skills and scopes of practice within the training, and requirements are built into the nursing licensing process that require continuing education and work experience to obtain and keep a nursing license.
The primary goal for every nursing degree is to learn how to support the well-being, independence, and quality of life of each person as they age. Many nursing degrees provide the training needed for caring for adult populations, also referred to as gerontology or geriatrics. Gerontology is the study of older adults and how physical changes, chronic illnesses, and diseases affect them.
The path to becoming a memory care nurse varies in time, type of degree, and certification. Types of nurses with specialized training are licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP). All nursing degrees have some form of practical training and hours of experience required for licensure and can take up to 8 years to complete.
The requirements, qualifications, and regulations to be a memory care nurse can vary from state to state. For example, to become a certified gerontological nurse, you need to be an RN, work for two years, and have 2000 hours of experience in the field.
There are also special certifications like becoming a Certified Dementia Practitioner® through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. The Joint Commission and Alzheimer’s Association have joined together to offer a certification that can be obtained through a school or the Memory Care residence.
How Memory Care Nurses Make a Difference
Memory care nurses create a bond of trust that goes beyond a simple patient-nurse relationship; they are a part of what is known as person-centered care. They don’t just know medical information, memory care nurses provide gentle reminders of who the person is and what they value, helping them preserve their sense of self.
Based on an individual’s care plan, history, likes, and desires, a daily routine is created. The daily routine gives residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia predictability, lessens anxiety, and gives a sense of independence. Whether that involves physical exercise, enjoying a meal with friends, or art or music therapy, the daily routine is just another method of living an enriching life.
Memory care nurses help keep residents on track to engage in the activities they find valuable and fulfilling. Here at BridgeWater Memory Care, our nurses’ station is centralized so each resident can find help whenever needed and can see a kind, familiar face.
A personal relationship with residents helps memory care nurses assess if there are changes in behavior and mood. Residents experiencing changes can have dementia-related behaviors that memory care nurses know how to address, and recognizing a change in routine can help mitigate any growing issues.
Often, those experiencing Alzheimer’s or dementia have challenges with eating and drinking enough fluids or even protecting themselves from heat or cold-related issues. A memory care nurse can help make routine changes to protect residents, provide comfort, and improve their quality of life. Through kindness, respect, and encouragement, memory care nurses solidify their relationship as a trusted caregiver and advocate. According to the 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, an estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. BridgeWater Memory Care knows that each person is a unique individual with loved ones who want the best for them. If you or your loved one wants to find out how we support our residents in living well, schedule an in-person tour and appointment. We’d be happy to show you around!