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Memory Care in Assisted Living Provides Specialized Support for Dementia

Memory Care in Assisted Living Provides Specialized Support for Dementia

If you or a family member are one of the estimated 6.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, you might be wondering about your options for long-term care. One of the best choices for seniors experiencing memory loss is memory care assisted living, like the community at the Mission at Agua Fria, where residents with dementia can receive specialized care and services. 

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

Although they share many similarities, there are essential differences between assisted living and memory care that often mean memory care is the best option for someone living with dementia or other forms of memory loss or cognitive issues. As the name suggests, one of the main features of an assisted living community is access to assistance with activities of daily living like:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Getting in and out of bed and on and off chairs, toilets, etc.
  • Getting dressed
  • Medication management
  • Eating

Many assisted living communities, including the one at the Mission at Agua Fria, also provide resort-like amenities such as dining services, housekeeping and laundry, on-site hair salon, wellness center, library, game room, social activities, classes, transportation, and more. Everything that you need to live well is within easy reach

Memory care services are more specialized and designed to enhance the quality of life for seniors with dementia, memory loss, or other cognitive issues. When you choose memory care assisted living, as opposed to drop-in day programs or in-home care, you get all the benefits of assisted living outlined above, in addition to the more focused care tailored to address cognitive needs, such as helpful therapies and a structured environment. 

Generally speaking, memory care focuses on equal parts comfort, familiarity, and stimulation. By providing a safe environment that is also stimulating and creative, memory care communities support the holistic health of residents, addressing their cognitive, physical, and spiritual needs. 

Cognitive Therapy

Because the brain is so complex, many activities are helpful when engaging in cognitive therapy. Art, music, colors, words, and smells are all used in various ways to encourage mental acuity and support memory. The following are just a sample of the types of activities that memory care residents enjoy:

  • Sensory stimulation – aromatherapy (smells are closely related to memory); tactile stimulation through working with clay
  • Creative expression – crafting, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, making collages. Many of these also help with fine motor skills
  • Art exposure – viewing famous works of art often inspires creativity
  • Word games and puzzles – jigsaw puzzles, board games, workbooks, mazes, brain games, sudoku, crossword puzzles, and more help keep the mind active
  • Cognitive games – games that require physical and mental aspects like charades, bean bag games where residents toss colored bean bags into like-colored baskets, etc. 
  • Music therapy – According to research from the National Institutes of Health, just listening to familiar music can help people with dementia, so memory care programs often capitalize on the benefits of music’s effect on memory by playing music from different eras or hosting sing-a-long events of well-known holidays songs or even gospel hymns. 

Since many of these therapeutic activities are social, residents benefit from social interaction with friends.

Physical Exercise

Since the benefits of physical exercise on mental well-being are well-documented, we all know that exercise is good for elevating our mood and reducing anxiety. New research and ongoing studies suggest that moderate exercise might slow cognitive decline. Many memory care communities encourage physical activity. 

The Mission at Agua Fria has a state-of-the-art exercise program and offers exercise classes that can be modified for all skill and mobility levels. In addition, a beautiful, enclosed outdoor courtyard invites residents to take walks and spend time with friends.

Specially Trained Staff

One of the greatest benefits of a memory care program for residents with dementia is that staff members receive additional training specific to dementia care, including developing an understanding of the disease and how it progresses, various symptoms that might occur, how residents might react in different situations, appropriate responses, and specialized communication techniques to assist residents as necessary. They generally use clear and straightforward language and pay attention to nonverbal cues and body language to help limit residents’ frustration. 

Because the symptoms of dementia vary from person to person, even improving or disappearing at times, dementia care specialists understand that the care they need to provide might also differ from day to day. Compassionate staff remain patient and flexible as they perform daily tasks such as: 

  • Personal care assistance – dementia care specialists are trained to help with activities of daily living (especially bathing, grooming, dressing, transferring, and eating) in reassuring and gentle ways that maximize residents’ comfort and minimize frustration and stress.
  • Medication management – staff familiarize themselves with residents’ personal and medical history and individual care plans to ensure they take the correct medication at the right times, attend doctor’s appointments, and get appropriate follow-up care.
  • Emotional support – memory care communities like the Mission at Agua Fria offer a wide range of amenities and activities, including game nights, exercise classes, movie nights, arts and crafts activities and classes, and more. To help all residents feel comfortable taking advantage of all these opportunities, dementia care staff are available to accompany residents as they participate. Having an encouraging, familiar face at their side can sometimes make all the difference.

Safe and Secure Environment

Memory care communities are designed with additional physical safety and security measures, including secure entrances and exits to prevent wandering. Personal emergency response systems in residents’ living spaces ensure they always have access to whatever assistance they need. In addition, the layouts of the shared spaces and living areas are intentionally designed to be open and to facilitate ease of navigation for all residents. 

Maintaining a daily routine by keeping consistent schedules for meals, activities, and medication administration reduces anxiety, stress, and confusion. Residents with dementia thrive in the safety and security of knowing what comes next, and memory care communities provide that structure.

Life at the Mission at Agua Fria

Nestled in the lovely desert oasis of Peoria, AZ, the Mission at Agua Fria offers assisted living, respite care, and memory care assisted living options all in one place. We believe caregiving should be personal and that excellent senior living should be affordable and accessible. We would love to learn more about you and your family and discuss how we can meet your needs. Call us or schedule a tour of our beautiful community today!