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Safe Haven: Creating a Secure Memory Care Environment

Safe Haven: Creating a Secure Memory Care Environment

When your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, you might be interested in memory care options for them. Of course, you want the best memory care services for your loved one, but you also want to ensure they are in a safe, supportive environment. 

The good news is that high-quality memory care communities, like the one at the Mission at Agua Fria, understand the importance of creating a secure environment that promotes residents’ physical, emotional, and mental health. This environment helps residents thrive, and families can rest easily, knowing their loved ones are safe and well-supported.

What should you look for when exploring memory care options? Below, you’ll find helpful information about how good memory care communities create secure environments for memory care and dementia patients. When you tour different communities, you can consider these safety measures to ensure the community is the right fit for your family and has everything you need for peace of mind.

Safe Physical Environment

Whether it’s physical security measures, design and layout adaptations, or additional safety equipment and devices, many memory care communities incorporate some or all of the following to provide a secure physical environment for those under their care.

Secured Entrances, Exits, Windows, and Balconies

To prevent unauthorized access to the community and reduce opportunities for residents to wander, the doors in a memory care community often have electronic locks or keypads that require either a numeric code or a key card. Many communities also install motion sensors or door alarms to alert staff if residents attempt to exit designated areas. Windows and balconies have locks or guards for added security and to prevent falls and accidents.

Dementia-Friendly Layout and Design

As scientists’ understanding of dementia has grown over the years, memory care communities have incorporated that research into best practices for dementia-friendly layout and design adaptations in their communities, including:

  • Contained outdoor spaces Having access to fresh air and nature is essential for everyone’s mental health. To accommodate this need, memory care communities create secured outdoor areas, usually with walking trails for exercise, with fences or barriers to ensure residents can always find their way back safely.
  • Non-slip flooring – Non-slip flooring is installed throughout the community and living areas, and area rugs and carpeting, if used, are carefully secured to prevent slips and falls. 
  • Well-lit entrances and exits – Appropriate lighting is essential for seeing where you are going and avoiding tripping hazards, so memory care communities pay attention to proper lighting that is not too dim or too bright. In some cases, motion-sensing lights ensure that there is always light when people enter or exit.
  • Clear signage – Clear labels should be on all rooms and doors. Using both words (in bold font or capitalized) and pictures helps avoid confusion for residents. 
  • Calming environment –  Tranquil art, such as nature scenes and soothing and simple patterns for wallpaper, curtains, throw pillows, carpet, and furniture, creates a restful atmosphere and avoids agitation and stress. 

Safety Equipment and Systems

Many memory care communities install security cameras and monitoring systems, especially in common areas like game and media rooms, outdoor areas, dining rooms, and hallways. These systems help staff monitor residents’ movements throughout the day and night to ensure their safety and allow the quickest and most efficient emergency response if needed.

Personal emergency response systems should also be available in private and common living areas, so any needed assistance is always just a touch of a button away.

Safety equipment such as handrails, guardrails, or grab bars is generally installed throughout the community, especially in hallways and bathrooms, to help prevent falls and accidents.

Highly Trained Staff

Dementia caregivers in memory care communities receive additional training to equip them to address additional challenges related to dementia, such as wandering, confusion, or agitation. Not only do they gain a greater understanding of dementia itself, but they also learn effective and alternative communication methods and care techniques to assist them in providing the best support possible.

Individualized Care

Dementia affects each person differently. Symptoms can vary from day to day, even in the same person. To address the unique nature of dementia, memory care communities are at their best when they develop personal care plans tailored to each individual’s specific needs and preferences. Personal care plans are designed to meet the care needs of the whole person, addressing mental, physical, and emotional needs.

Based on comprehensive assessments as well as collaboration with families, memory care staff get to know each resident, including their medical and personal history, and then develop a plan for their care that covers:

  • Engagement in meaningful activities that they enjoy
  • Management of any medication they need
  • Dietary requirements
  • Exercise recommendations and choices
  • Cognitive therapy, such as art and music therapy
  • Personal care and other healthcare needs

Structured Routine

Memory care services work best with a highly structured routine, unlike other senior living options like independent living or assisted living. Consistency in daily meal times, activities, and sleep schedules provides a sense of security and minimizes confusion and stress for those living with dementia.

Transparent Communication

Ensure you are comfortable with how the memory care community communicates and collaborates with you on your loved one’s care. Ask how the community will address your concerns and inform you of changes in behavior or health. It is important to be involved in the decision-making process.  

At the Mission at Agua Fria, our memory care model emphasizes seeing, hearing, and valuing each unique individual. We understand the importance of holistic and personalized care and know your loved one’s safety and security are essential to you. 

Contact us to schedule a tour or ask any questions you might have about how we ensure a secure memory care environment for your loved one.