A couple of weeks ago I had a client tell me that her mom had dementia and that she wanted her to move into a memory care community. The client then asked “What exactly is a memory care community?” I realized that I couldn’t answer the question because, as I looked at all the assisted living facilities and nursing homes that I’ve worked with in Northeast Wisconsin, I could only recall one that would say “no” if someone walked in their door and said, “Do you offer memory care?”
Without industry standards, memory care is open to interpretation. There are “memory care” units that are locked, those that are delayed (15 second) egress, and some facilities with doors that open freely. There are assisted living facilities that provide “memory care” as part of their standard care service to any senior, or small 4–16 resident communities that offer their own version. There are large apartment buildings providing meals and medication administration, facilities that provide specialized activities to seniors with early to mid-stage dementia, others that specialize in later stage dementia, and those that serve residents with behavioral challenges — all offering “memory care” services.
So, how does one find the right “memory care?” It’s important to not get hung up on the words and, instead, focus on finding the right care for your loved one. In the case of my client, I explained that we needed to work together to understand her mother’s care needs today and, in the mid-term, to understand her social preferences, work within her budget and clarify the expectations of the family and POA. These factors will be critical in finding the safest and most appropriate “memory care” for this individual, no matter how we chose to define it.