Keeping Your Loved One With Dementia At Home: Is It The Best Option?

Posted on

Deciding when to move a loved one from home-based care to a memory care center is a difficult topic. In most cases, spouses and families opt to wait until their loved one is in the middle- to later-stages of memory care in order to keep them at home – in a familiar space – as long as possible.

While these intentions are sound, the reality is that those with dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to experience longer, higher-quality lives when they are moved to a memory care center sooner rather than later.

Moving Into Memory Care Sooner Offers Higher Quality of Living

Here are some of the reasons quality of life is improved when spouses, parents, or loved ones move into a memory care center rather than remaining at home.

Keep ahead of the memory decline curve

A succinct post on alzheimers.net describes how Alzheimer’s evolves from preclinical Alzheimer’s (the first symptoms) to the late stages of severe cognitive decline. 

By moving a loved one into memory care center ahead of the “moderate decline” point on the curve, you improve the quality of your loved one’s life because:

  • Residents have the ability to settle in, learn their way around and become familiar with the staff, their neighbors and medical professionals while they still have cognitive function.
  • 100% of their daily life is geared toward memory care specific-diets, activities, routines, outings, etc., which keeps them active and engaged.
  • They are closely monitored by experienced clinical and medical staff who can notice and address any shifts, declines, or behaviors that are immediately improved via changes in medication, treatments, or therapies.

Research continues to show that while dementia isn’t reversible in most cases, dementia-specific care and attention notably slows its progression. And, the health professionals working at memory care centers are always at the forefront of the latest memory care research and treatment options.

Continuous social engagement

In most cases, pre-dementia life involves far more personal and social engagement, along with mental stimulation, than the post-dementia diagnosis lifestyle. 

This is especially true if the person is taken care of at home. The comfort of home and increasing care from immediate family members and caregivers is valuable, but it almost inevitably leads to an individual who spends most of his/her time sitting or lying down, not very engaged with those around them, rapidly turning inward on themselves.

While the initial transition may be emotionally difficult, it’s amazing to see how those with earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s blossom when they move into their new memory care environment. 

For one thing, there is no reason to maintain a pretense of “normalcy” – which is incredibly taxing for those who remain among their cognitively healthy family and friends. That “acting to keep it together” becomes a great strain.

Instead, the barriers can go down, the unknown can be explored and embraced with others in the same situation, and there is a whole new world of activities that are all geared for their wellbeing. 

Also, due to innovations such as Town Center concepts and village-like designs, memory care residents’ world becomes more vibrant (and manageable) as a result of their new environment.

Extended life expectancy and quality of life

Those who work in the very special realm of memory care know that residents who move here earlier get more comfortable and assimilate more quickly into their new life. They are more social and active, participate more willingly in the spectrum of amenities and activities offered at The Memory Center. 

As a result, those who move here during the earlier- to early-mid stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia live an average of two years longer than their counterparts.

On the other hand, individuals who move here during the later stages of the disease have the same life expectancy of those who move into more traditional nursing homes – somewhere around six months on average – because they simply don’t have the ability to enjoy all of the resources a memory care center offers them.

Ask yourself who you are protecting or taking care of

In the deep and heartfelt conversations, we have the honor and privilege to facilitate with our residents’ families, we often witness a spouse or child caregiver come to a painful awareness.

This wrenching revelation is that they waited so long to transition their beloved mate or family member into memory care because they, themselves, were having a difficult time accepting the new reality.

In many cases, the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s asked to move or encouraged their caregivers to let them move somewhere else, but guilt or a feeling of resistance held their caregiver back. You may feel like moving them somewhere is a surrender of your obligation when, in fact, it allows you to reclaim a more loving, connected relationship.

Is there any chance your resistance has more to do with a personal desire to “keep things as they are?”. Is your fear that memory care isn’t affordable a means of shielding yourself from the reality of the situation and what’s best for the one you love and hate to see go? 

If so, we recommend taking advantage of one or more of the amazing outlets for Alzheimer’s support here in our area to help you work through your feelings.

If finances are a concern, read, How to Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, to see if there are any avenues or resources you’ve yet to tap.

Ensuring A Smooth Transition Into Memory Care

We assure you that transitioning a loved one into the right memory care facility will enhance everyone’s life – freeing up time and space to explore the new relationship that must be forged with a dementia diagnosis, as well as your new paths forward.

There is always time required to form a new plan after receiving dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, research shows that the sooner memory care and treatment are available, the better it is for most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Learn more from these helpful resources: 

Is Medicare/Medicaid An Option For To Pay For Memory Center/Assisted Living?

Posted on

Financing a residency at a memory care center or assisted living facility can seem overwhelming at first. 

If that’s the case for you, know that most residents and their families take a multi-faceted approach to finance long-term care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many people ask if funding from Medicare or Medicaid is an option, but the answer can be complicated.

In the case of Medicare, these are some funding allotments are available intermittently, but only covering specific medical events or situations. For this reason, Medicare is not usually viewed as a consistent or foundational source of funding for Alzheimer’s or dementia care, which is also the case at The Memory Center communities. 

If financing the cost of your preferred memory care center without Medicare or Medicaid  is a factor for you, read our post, Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for more information.

How To Finance Memory Care & Assisted Living Without Medicaid or Medicare

Most individuals who transfer from home-based care into memory care or assisted living use a combination of financing sources. This includes financial support from:

  • Retirement investments/savings
  • Social Security or another pension(s)
  • The sale of a home or property
  • Taking a reverse mortgage out on a home
  • Financial support from family members
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Private health insurance
  • Medicare/Medicaid for specific or qualifying events
  • Veteran’s benefits

When touring prospective communities or facilities, make sure to ask about monthly fees and exactly what they cover, learn more about their recommendations. If you are relying on Medicare/Medicaid coverage you will want to find out what, if anything, is covered in a community up front and also speak to your benefits coordinator.

When Are Medicare & Medicaid Are Viable Options For Qualifying Individuals?

In most cases, Medicare or Medicaid covers a portion of care costs for qualifying patients. 

The term “qualifying” is the key here. Both programs are forms of federal assistance, but they differ in terms of benefits qualifications.

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicare

Medicare is available to seniors 65-years and older OR individuals younger than 65-years who have qualified for Social Security benefits for at least 24-months prior. 

In most cases pertaining to adults younger than 65, this comes by way of disability benefits.

If your loved one is showing signs or has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, speak to your doctor and schedule an appointment with your local Social Security Administration to learn more about what’s required to qualify for disability benefits. The combination of disability benefits and Medicare can considerably reduce your out-of-pocket care costs.

If you or your loved one are 65-years of age and you qualify to receive social security benefits, you are eligible for Medicare. You should have received ample notification to enroll in Medicare roughly three months before your 65th birthday. If not, enroll ASAP to avoid potential penalties.

All of the costs covered by Medicare can be applied to memory care centers or assisted living facilities who are willing to accept and work with Medicare billing. It’s important to note that in almost all cases, individuals have to be in the later stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s before Medicare coverage is available for anything other than medical appointments and treatments and not all communities work with Medicare benefits.

Typical Costs Covered by Medicare

Medicare is most likely to cover the following costs:

  • Inpatient hospital fees, doctor’s visits, and some medical items for residents 65-years and older. If you have a Medicare Part D plan, prescriptions may also be covered.
  • In limited circumstances, Medicare pays for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care, following a hospital stay, although it does not cover long-term nursing home care.
  • Hospice services, including when they take place at a nursing home or inpatient hospice center when patients are determined to have six months or less to live.

We recommend visiting Medicare’s webpage regarding Alzheimer’s coverage for more specific information about what is and isn’t covered. As this page so aptly puts it:

“Despite its shortcomings, Medicare, when used fully – and especially when augmented with Medicare Supplemental Insurance – can make a significant contribution towards the expense of caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s. Readers may want to explore this article which discusses other Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits for Alzheimer’s.”

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicaid

Medicaid is jointly funded by both the federal government and the individual’s state of residence. It uses an asset/income-based qualification system that is quite strict in its qualification. Only those with very low asset/income levels or who have no financial resources are eligible for Medicaid. 

In order to protect the system from abuse, there are extremely stringent laws preventing individuals from transferring property, assets or wealth to other family members ahead of time in order to qualify for assistance.

Those who legitimately qualify for Medicaid can expect all or a portion of their medical expenses to be covered, including nursing home or residential skilled nursing care. 

However, be aware that not all nursing homes, assisted living facilities or memory care centers take Medicaid. In almost all cases, those who qualify for Medicaid must move or transfer to a state home- or community-based healthcare option to receive the benefits.

Early Planning Is Key To Securing Financing Before A Move Is Necessary

We can’t emphasize enough how much proactive research and planning ease the financial path toward memory care and assisted living. 

By methodically going through the options, you’ll piece together a plan that works for your household budget. Giving yourself extra time means more opportunities to secure financing sources you may not think about or remember in knee-jerk crisis mode.

We also recommend utilizing local Alzheimer’s and dementia support groups, as well as online support groups and discussion forums. The individuals and facilitators in those groups have years of experience and wisdom behind them. You may learn about creative patch-working of financing opportunities you wouldn’t hear or read about otherwise.

And, of course, the staff at your prospective memory care centers or assisted living facilities should be informative on the topic of Medicare/Medicaid financing as well. Their willingness to walk you through some basics, sharing their information and advice, can be viewed as part of the interview process and shed light into the heart and soul of the center’s administration and staff.

Learn more about selecting and financing memory care in these related articles:

Why Is There A Deposit For Memory Care?

Posted on

There is no mystery around the fact that covering costs associated with assisted living and memory care facilities requires astute financial planning. The sooner you begin planning for these costs, the better.

Read, How To Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, for more information on assessing the total costs (first-time and long-term) of your prospective location(s).

Understanding Deposits For Memory Care

One of the most immediate payments you’ll make is the deposit fee for the memory care center you’ve selected. These fees exist for a variety of reasons. First, and foremost, they indicate an expression of more serious intention and your commitment to a chosen facility.

As with any business, especially a residential facility, a fair amount of time goes into hosting tours, meeting with prospective families, preparing rooms, etc.

That also includes communicating with and maintaining relationships with individuals, couples or families who are intent on becoming future residents there or who are helping to transition loved ones into assisted living.

Your deposit not only indicates your level of commitment, but it also protects waiting lists from becoming overly burdened by names and contacts who are only vaguely interested and helps navigate the flow of a waiting list.

Early planning minimizes the amount you’ll spend on deposits

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to begin touring prospective memory care and assisted living options as early as possible.

By doing so, you won’t feel under pressure to make a rushed or lesser-informed decision. Your proactive selection and decision-making process also prevent you from finding yourself in crisis mode, needing to find something immediately and having to pass up ideal locations for facilities that are not up to par.

In terms of paying deposits, your early touring, interviewing and selection of one desired location means you’ll only have to pay a single deposit. This is optimal compared with individuals or couples forced to make rushed and desperate decisions, and wind up investing substantial sums in multiple deposits so they can jump at the first place that opens up.

Don’t assume all deposits are refundable

There are no boilerplate protocols for how assisted living and memory care centers handle deposits. It’s imperative that you ask for all of the large and small print information pertaining to your deposit(s), particularly if you’re making multiple deposits to hold spots in various facilities.

Also, understand that “refundable” may not mean “100% refundable no matter what.” Here at the Memory Center, we require deposits from future clients securing a spot on our waiting list to optimize efficiency on our end. However, our deposits are fully refundable if you choose to get off the list, regardless of the reason why.

Varying deposit/refund policies at other facilities include:

  • Deposit is non-refundable. Period.
  • Deposits are only partially refundable
  • Deposits are only refunded if there is proven, medical or health-related reason you’re removing someone from the list
  • Deposits are (fully or partially) refunded after the person passes away or must go into a more acute healthcare facility
  • The deposit may or may not hold a specific room or floor plan for you, so ask if this is important and find out what you need to do to hold a specific room/plan.

The bottom line is you should never hand over or sign anything regarding a financial commitment or deposit until you fully understand the policies.

Deposits typically hold steady if you need to wait for the next available space

Again, this fact should be verified with the desired facility.

The large majority of the time, deposits remain intact if you are contacted for an available space but aren’t quite ready to move in. This isn’t uncommon, especially if you were told the wait was about 90-days and you get a call two weeks later.

At The Memory Center, we simply move to the next name on the list and you retain your Number 1 spot on the list until the next availability opens up. This sequence continues until the timing is finally right for you.

Ask about incentives or specials

Sometimes memory care centers offer incentives or specials that waive or reduce a deposit or certain move-in fees. Occasionally they are advertised but often they are not, so it’s worth asking just in case.

Similarly, many higher-end facilities hold a limited number of rooms available for Medicaid patients. While the waiting lists for these rooms tend to be much longer, your pre-planning could pay off, allowing you or a loved one to move into a desirable location with substantially reduced payments.

A poor fit still forfeits the deposit

Unfortunately, deciding that the new place isn’t a good fit, doesn’t have the services your loved one requires or you’ve received a call from your first choice and want to move in there almost always means forfeiting a deposit.

Understand the community’s exit options

In other words, if your loved one passes away, which (if any) fees or deposits are paid back to the estate. There are a variety of ways assisted living and memory care centers handle this delicate subject, and it’s critical that you understand their policy clearly before committing.

The best way to handle it is to have this topic at the ready with your other list of questions that you ask while touring facilities and meeting with various management and staff. While verbal assurances are lovely, always get any information pertaining to finances or policies in writing so you have something to fall back on.

Evaluating Memory Care Deposits

The world of finance seems cold and calculated when you’re diligently trying to seek the best, heartfelt and personalized care for your loved one.

However, making the time to complete your due diligence and understand all of the fine print provides peace of mind when you select the memory care center that’s best and move your loved one into their new home.

Learn More About Memory Care Pricing

How To Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living

Posted on

The first priority in locating quality memory care or assisted living options is finding a place that you trust and that is known for its high-quality care.

The second priority is finding a place you can afford.

Factors To Evaluate When Searching For Affordable Memory Care

It’s important to perform thorough due-diligence when comparing the costs of various memory care and assisted living facilities.

Unfortunately, many facilities hide “extra costs” when advertising their per/month rates, and that can become detrimental if your loved one has moved in and you find the monthly charge is notably more than you estimated.

Moving into an assisted living facility can be hard, and it can be even more so if you have to move your loved one to yet another facility as the result of hidden fees or unexpected costs.

Similarly, the very act of terminating the contract at one facility and establishing a new one can cost you thousands of wasted dollars. This is because, in addition to losing the remaining balance on the existing contract, odds are you’ll have another deposit and other associated fees attached to the new contract.

Identifying affordable assisted living or memory care options doesn’t have to be challenging. If numbers and details aren’t your forte, enlist the help of a family member, friend or your accountant to review paperwork with you and make sure you aren’t missing anything before making your final choice.

Ultimately, you want to choose a place that has the highest-quality care, meals, amenities and activities for the most affordable price.

Comparing Advertised Cost & Hidden Costs

One of the most important things to keep in mind when searching for affordable assisted living or memory care is the discrepancy between the “advertised cost” and the “hidden costs.”

When you’re making such an important choice, you need all of the facts at hand to make a well-informed decision, and this includes a complete and detailed list of all costs – not just the basic “room and board” fees.

Common Fees Included (but not always)

Here are some of the most common fees included in a general price estimate. Keep in mind that every facility is different, so you’ll want to confirm specific costs with each prospective facility you visit.

  • Rent
  • Meals
  • Housekeeping
  • Access to general exercise and activities

Those are just the basics, and you may be surprised to find that other services you “assumed” were included (often the services the facility promotes during your tour and visits) cost extra.

Ask About Hidden Fees

Some of the hidden fees that might surprise you include:

  • Certain occupational or physical therapies prescribed by medical staff
  • Periodic “assessment fees,” similar to HOA dues, that are bumped up over time
  • Hygiene costs, including dressing, bathing, incontinence care, and laundry
  • Medication management and medication distribution
  • The initial (and possibly subsequent) health screenings
  • On-site physician and pharmacy access
  • Treatment for temporary wounds, illnesses or injuries
  • General wellness monitoring, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels
  • Escorts to activities or dining center(s)
  • Periodic wellness check-ins
  • Transportation to various events, outings, or off-site appointments
  • Extra fees for deep-cleaning of the bathroom or other areas
  • Moving costs
  • Telephone charges
  • Fees/charges for contracted- or atypical special events, classes or activities

While charging extra for non-contracted services and extras isn’t unethical, it’s imperative that you know exactly what is included – and what is not – so you can plan accordingly.

For example, your preferred memory care center may charge extra for off-site transportation, and that’s fine. By knowing that, you can get your preferences in writing, stating that your spouse or loved one is only budgeted to go on inclusive outings OR a stated number of charged outings per month.

Are Special Amenities & Services Worth The Extra Money?

When you’re touring various facilities, take a good, analytical look at their amenities, classes, and services. You may be surprised when you factor in your total budget and find that spending slightly more per month for a memory care center with superior amenities is well-worth it.

For one thing, you and your family members will save money each week if you’re able to join your spouse, parent or grandparent at the in-house Pub or Cafe, or to catch a movie at the on-site theater.

The water exercise, aerobics, yoga or dance classes offered as part of an all-inclusive assisted living facility may be more affordable than the gym membership and other extracurricular dues and fees your loved one insisted in keeping up, even after s/he couldn’t attend anymore.

Does All-Inclusive Affordable Memory Care Mean All-Inclusive?

When you keep the above “hidden charges” potential in mind, all-inclusive memory care centers begin to look more affordable. What used to seem like a notably higher per/month charge now starts to become more reasonable.

For example, The Memory Care Center is considered an all-inclusive community. We provide a detailed and itemized list of costs to any prospective and current residents and their families as requested.

Among the basic services, our monthly fees include services such as dressing/grooming and toileting, regular laundry and linen services, items “purchased” from visits to our General Store and any outings offered by our Activities Program and more.

Even so, there are a few things that aren’t included in that “all-inclusive” price.

For example, we charge residents for certain services or items such as:

  • Long-distance telephone calls
  • Incontinence supplies
  • Salon services
  • Transportation to off-site appointments

However, we are always happy to pre-arrange a budget or restrictions based on your wishes.

So, for example, if your mother enjoys her monthly salon appointment, we’ll keep that to once per month and gently remind her of her “upcoming appointment” if she tries to book an extra appointment. Honesty and clarity around charges are essential to making the right decision for your loved one.

Finding Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living

Ultimately, your prospective memory care and assisted living facilities’ transparency around pricing is indicative of their ethics, integrity and the sincerity of their work.

Sometimes, paying a bit more each month – and knowing that’s all you’ll have to pay – is well worth peace of mind.

Learn about pricing

What If My Loved One Is Afraid To Tour An Assisted Living Facility?

Posted on

Life and relationships can get complicated quickly when a parent or senior loved one is afraid to tour assisted living facilities.

It can weigh heavily on you and other family members when an aging parent is outright opposed to discussing the opportunity and/or touring an assisted living or memory care facility. However, that resistance shouldn’t hold you back from taking steps in the right direction.

How To Ease Loved One’s Fears About Assisted Living & Memory Care

The opposition to entertain the idea, even tour a facility, is common, but there are things you can do to help ease their fears and worries and to slowly get them on board.

Read on for five tips to help your aging loved one open up to assisted living or memory care.

1. Start the conversation early to begin exploring the pros and cons

In some cases, the move to assisted living, nursing home or a memory care center takes place virtually overnight – largely the result of a traumatic event or injury that makes it impossible for care to continue at home. This is exactly the scenario you want to avoid.

A loss of independence, fears of declining health or death are the most typical reasons seniors refuse to cooperate with any long-term care plan that involves leaving their home.

The key becomes to help them understand that certain aspects of aging and the progression of dementia are inevitable. It’s important they know their ability to stay more open and inquisitive about the options, the more time they’ll have to be involved in a process that should – ideally – involve their opinions, insights, preferences, aversions, etc.

The other side of the coin is that they aren’t the only one affected by the aging process and as their caregiver, you also have a say regarding how and where care should take place.

Read our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, to start the conversation. If it doesn’t go well – it may require a more independent search process.

2. Keep trying – and get to the heart of the fear/resistance

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?

While you may want to skip a day or two (or a week) between attempts, odds are your calm, patient and rational reasons for exploring assisted living and memory care options are working more than you know to sway the mind of your loved one.

The key is to get to the heart of the fear and resistance so you can help to assuage them.

Frankly, oftentimes, it’s all of the above.

By getting to the heart of things, your conversations will be more fruitful and will provide insight into the type(s) of information your loved one needs to see, hear and know before s/he’ll be more comfortable exploring the idea – and specific facilities.

Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a licensed therapist, your minister/rabbi/priest, or a trusted physician to help facilitate these conversations.

3. Enlist the help of more objective “Others”

Most of us are the least responsive and cooperative when being pressed about something we aren’t fond of by the ones we love most. If your spouse, parent or grandparent is having a hard time – or resistant – to speak to you about it, think about who s/he may be more receptive in listening to and speaking with – and reach out for their help.

Is there a more distant relative, a good friend, a neighbor, your trusted home care aide, a spiritual advisor, a former colleague, fellow golfer or book club member, etc. who may get a more open ear? Maybe it’s time to enlist that person – or all of the above.

Over time, and with a few different conversations from more objective “Others,” you may find the way has eased a bit.

4. Visit a few memory care options – on your own

The fact remains that at some point, most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s are going to need professional care. If you wait too long to begin the search, out of respect for your loved one’s fear or resistance, things become very stressful, very quickly, when that point is reached.

You may be surprised and find that once you embark on the search for the best memory care center, your loved one becomes more curious and warms up to coming along. Even if they don’t, you may find s/he begins dropping hints about what s/he would want or not want, or may even ask you questions.

In any case, it’s always best to visit and tour a few different assisted living or memory care centers so you can compare apples-to-apples and get a feel for which one offers the environment and services that best match your loved one’s needs. Feel free to bring a trusted family member or friend to keep you company and another set of objective eyes and ears.

Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, and we also recommend recording your tours and/or the Q&A sessions with admin and staff so you have something to playback later on. If and when your loved one grows more respective, these recordings will be helpful in allowing him/her to be part of the decision making process.

5. Make sure you have enough emotional support

Being a caregiver and/or a close family member to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is incredibly challenging on its own. The decision to begin transitioning your loved one to a memory care center adds another layer of complication to the mix – and it is exponentially taxing when the person in question is afraid, worried, resistant or uncooperative.

It’s essential that you have the social and emotional support you need as you move through this process. Look for support venues and groups in your area and utilize them. Support groups for spouses and caregivers for those with dementia provide the opportunities to commune with others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Both volunteer support groups and organizations dedicated to senior care are a wealth of information and advice, and there’s a great chance someone you meet will have a recommendation or a strategy that works to facilitate your assisted living tour plan.

Reducing Fear Over Assisted Living & Memory Care

At the end of the day, your loved one is entitled to their own opinions and should have a say in the final decision.

Regardless of their stance on the matter, it’s important to offer continued support and guidance as you, together, make steps towards a favorable outcome for everyone.  

Check out virtual tours of each of our three locations:

How Many Assisted Living Facilities Or Memory Care Facilities Should You Tour?

Posted on

Visiting assisted living facilities or memory care facilities is a must as you determine where your loved one feels comfortable and offers what s/he wants and needs. Even if the first one you visit feels like “The One,” having other facilities to weigh it against is extremely important.

Plus, we guarantee your experiences at each community will teach you something, or shed light on an unfamiliar idea you didn’t know before. This well-rounded base of information will be fruitful as your loved one begins the transition into their new community.

 Should We Visit Several Facilities?

touring memory care assisted livingIdeally, you would visit around three different communities before making a final decision.

Touring about three allows you to make some important comparisons between different facilities so you and your loved ones can compare and contrast them and should give you a good idea of what you are looking for.

Many people assume touring as many as possible is the best option, but trying to tour four, five, six or more is virtually impossible for most people, and can make the experience overwhelming. 

Even the best note taker finds it difficult to recall things from four or five visits ago especially if you are trying to visit as many as you can in one day. 

If you really want to tour a large number, we recommend you schedule them on different days and give yourself time in between tours so you aren’t rushing from one tour to the next.  Leaving a few hours, or even a day, between tours provides the time needed for you to think about the tour, what you liked or didn’t like, and even get in touch with the director to ask follow up questions.  This information will also help you as you move to tour the next facility.

However, do note that there is a difference between assisted living facilities and memory care centers. While the former may have a memory care wing or department, the latter is entirely focused on dementia and Alzheimer’s care.

If you’re deciding between the two options, you may need to visit a few in each category since you’re making two separate decisions: 1) which type of care is the best one for my loved one, assisted living or memory care, and 2) when that decision is made, which assisted living/memory care facility do we like the best.

Preparing For Memory Care Center Visits & Tours

The better prepared you are before scheduling visits and tours, the better able you’ll be to take it all in with a discerning and expert eye. You’ll know what questions to ask, which areas you want to observe or check into, which activities you’d like to watch or participate in and so on.

Otherwise, it can go by so fast and you may become so overwhelmed that it all seems like a blur.

If the following recommendations are put into play ahead of time, you’ll find your visits feel more calm, intentional, and productive.

Make a short list of must-haves, wants and basic questions

This may be a bittersweet reminder of what it was like to search for a home, and that’s because it is just like that. The facility or community you choose will become home, neighborhood, community, and more for the resident who moves in.

For that reason, a list of “must-haves” and “wants” becomes helpful as it gives you a solid foundation to start as you determine where to tour. A quick list of general questions is also helpful if you’re narrowing the field between multiple options.

Your list and questions also ensure you’re comparing apples-to-apples when you sit down to discuss your observations, feelings, and findings with your spouse, family, and friends.

Establishing this list at the outset also saves time and energy. A quick conversation and run-down of the list with facility staff ahead of time may automatically rule some prospective assisted living or memory care facilities out before you tour them, allowing others to rise to the top.

Some of these align with specific questions you’ll ask while you’re visiting various communities (more on that below). Things to consider as you make your “must-haves” and “wants” list include:

  • Current health and present diagnoses
  • Level of medical care required
  • Type of care provided or not able to be provided
  • Type of supervision required
  • Activity offerings
  • Size and scope of the grounds
  • Security measures
  • Public transportation needs
  • Religious/spiritual service offerings
  • The living arrangements (apartments, studios, rooms, cottages)
  • Preferences regarding onsite and/or offsite activities and outings
  • Size and occupancy of rooms
  • Any other specific needs/wants to pertain to your loved one

Many of these items can be determined by visiting websites and reading promotional or marketing materials that can be downloaded or mailed to your home. Detailed reviews ahead of time save you from touring or visiting a place you wouldn’t have if you’d had more information beforehand.

Download a voice recording app or bring a mini-recorder

Ask ahead and verify if the entirety of your tour (or at the very least, the Q&A session) can be recorded by you. Hopefully, the answer is, “yes,” and this gives you the opportunity to relax that busy brain so you can soak it all up. You’ll leave knowing it can all be played back at home to catch anything you missed or review their answers to your questions.

Practice recording ahead of time, and check the recording frequently during the tour to make sure it started and that it isn’t accidentally turned off before you’re finished.

Consider this your opportunity to host an interview

Ultimately, these tours and visits are your opportunity to interview prospective communities, and this is done by asking questions about their administration, staff, and medical personnel. Don’t forget that your eyes, ears, nose, and intuition are also conducting an interview all the while…

Since it’s easy to go off on tangents and asides, we recommend printing a separate copy of your list of questions for each tour you attend so you can check each question/answer off as you go.

Take notes if you like, but your voice recording will be there for you to fall back on when you return home. The goal is to make sure each question is answered in full so you feel clear about your final decision.

Always trust your instincts

Most importantly, as you visit your three to six prospective assisted living or memory care centers, trust your instincts.

Sometimes, the place that looks the best on paper or that sounds the best via radio commercials or personal referrals doesn’t feel the best to you and the future resident. Honor these feelings. It means it’s not the right fit for you, and by crossing that prospect off your list you are one step closer to finding the right memory care center to call Home.

Choosing Memory Care For Your Loved One

While all the preparation in the world can give you a great deal of insight, going with your senses and intuition during tours it critical, and just as valuable as the best, most clear-cut answers you receive to your questions.

And, always keep in mind that the most important factor in this decision is which facility makes you and your loved one feel the safest, most comfortable, and secure.

Prepare For Your Memory Care Facility Tour

 

How Long Should You Wait Before Visiting Your Loved One In Memory Care?

Posted on

Transitioning a senior loved one into memory care requires a delicate choreography and balance as you determine the “best way” to move into the new place, decide what should go and what should remain behind, and even how often you should wait – or not – before visiting.

Let Your Loved One & Memory Care Staff Lead The Way

In most cases, your loved one’s level of comfort or agitation will determine how soon or how often you should visit.

Also, trained memory center staff have wonderful insight into whether your presence seems to soothe or unsettle their new resident, or what times of day seem best for him/her (which may vary in the new setting from what you were used to at home).

Feel free to check in with the staff to learn more about how your visits affect your spouse, parent or relative.

At first, more may be more

Often, visits from you and other loving, familiar faces help to ease the transition from home or an assisted living facility into a memory care community. In the beginning, these visits may need to be more regular to help the new resident settle in.

Regular visits from the ones they love assure new residents they are not being forgotten or abandoned. Your presence proves you meant it when you said, “we’ll visit you often,” and that can provide peace of mind.

Then again, sometimes less-is-more

There are exceptions, however, to the above. Some new residents have a harder time settling into their new home and need more time before they are ready for a visit.

When well-meaning visits immediately after a move cause more homesickness instead of less; or more agitation than calm, or emotional goodbyes, ask the staff if you should consider waiting before your next visit. This can lead to emotional and traumatic goodbyes.

If it seems early visits are detrimental to the resident’s ability to settle in, administration or staff will recommend a modified visiting schedule. It may be that remaining absent for a full week or two is enough for your loved one to “re-anchor,” after which regular visits are better appreciated.

NOTE: It can be heartbreaking if your loved one falls into the category of “less is more” on post-transition visits. Let’s be honest, while regular visits from loved ones can help your loved one with the change, those visits are just as likely to help you transition into a new life.

If it turns out you need to take a visiting break in order to facilitate the new resident’s transition, consider this your opportunity to adjust to your new life as yourself,rather than a full-time caregiver.

It may be all about timing

Often, residents settle in so well, and become so instantly engaged in the routine of routine, calendared social events, we realize that it wasn’t your visit that triggered the agitation, it was the fact that it coincided with a favorite music class or crafting activity they enjoy during that period.

Establishing the best days and times for visits, with respect to your loved one’s “optimal time of day” or the center’s activity calendar, could be the key to more satisfying visits.

Tips For Visiting A Loved One With Dementia

Depending on how your loved one’s dementia progresses, visits may increasingly become a challenge.

Prepare yourself and other family members for more successful visits by reviewing the following tips:

Only one or two at a time

The temptation to come in “reunion format,” especially when family is visiting from out-of-town is a natural one. However, this may be too overwhelming for someone with dementia.

Instead, plan for only one or two people to visit at a time, perhaps staggering visits over the course of the collective group’s visit. This keeps things simple and focused.

Do a photo album review

Hopefully, you put together or brought along some great photo albums to provide a comforting sense of “Home” in the new living space. Photo albums are a great way to spend quality time, reflecting on the past and hearing family stories you may not have heard before.

Learn to revel in the silence

Our culture is a busy – and talkative – one. We don’t always thrive in silence, hence the term awkward silence. However, as memories fade and those with dementia have a harder time finding the right words (aphasia), conversations get shorter and shorter – or more challenging to follow.

Use this opportunity to enjoy the sanctity of quiet and the simple, physical presence of someone you love. If the weather is nice, take a walk together or sit with a beautiful view and see if things like birds, trees or beautiful flowers elicit a notice or verbal acknowledgment. If not, the silence can become a welcome respite from the outside world.

Don’t expect recognition at every visit

Questions like, “Do you know who I am?” or trying to reinstate who you are can be very upsetting for those with dementia.

Be prepared for visits when they know you, and those when they don’t, for stories remembered and stories forgotten. Finding ways to connect positively where they are each day will lead to higher quality visits with your loved one.

Remain as positive as possible

There is no doubt that anger, frustration, resentment, etc. can be tangible at the unconscious level.

Try your best to remain as positive (or neutral) as possible during visits to prevent agitating your loved one. That being said, it’s also okay to cut a visit short if you need a break, and it’s also encouraged that you honor and be present with your loved one’s feelings when s/he expresses sadness, grief, frustration, etc.

Visiting Loved Ones In Memory Care

A transition into memory care is a big one for everyone involved, not just the new resident.

Be gentle and patient with yourself – and your loved ones – as you work to find the visiting routine that’s “just right” for the well-being of all involved.

You may also find interest in these articles:

 

 

When Saying Goodbye To Your Loved One In Assisted Living Is Too Hard

Posted on

For some seniors, transitioning into assisted living or a memory care center is relatively smooth and even a welcome one as they enjoy the renewed ability to engage with the world around them.

Other times, the transition is very painful and much more challenging. As a family member – particularly a primary caregiver – watching a loved one struggle emotionally as they resist their new change, beg to be taken home, or react dramatically when you leave is absolutely devastating.

Often this can mean going through the emotional trauma of a crying or wailing loved one as you pry yourself away to return home after a visit, or perhaps you are the one crying and feeling guilty about leaving. In worst case scenarios, this can result in family members avoiding visits altogether as they struggle to say goodbye is simply too hard.

Easing The Transition Of Saying Goodbye When It’s Hard For A Loved One

Here are some tips and considerations to help you cope with the emotional struggle involved when your loved one cries, becomes angry or seems despondent when you say goodbye.

How long has it been since your loved one moved in?

Everyone adjusts differently to their transition into assisted living or memory care. For some, having lots of visits on a regular basis is very helpful. For others, constant visits make it harder for them to accept their new living situation and to willingly forge new relationships and routines in their community.

If the transition took place within the past few months, speak to the staff and see what they think. You may find that scaling back visits and leaving more time in between is the answer.

While difficult for you initially, allowing your loved one more time to completely settle in and find their place could make future visits and goodbyes more successful.

Read, How to Move a Parent with Dementia into Assisted Living. Even if you’ve already made the move – the information you find there can offer insight and recommendations you can put into place.

Seek assistance managing your own emotions

Those with dementia can be highly attuned to the stress levels and emotions of those around them. In some cases, verbal communication tools may no longer be available, and you may find someone with dementia more likely vent their emotions in other ways or become agitated very quickly.  

Next time you visit your loved one, pay close attention to your own emotional field. Are you angry? Do you feel sad? Are you feeling guilty? Are you anxious as you anticipate the potentially dramatic goodbye scene? Learning to manage your inner, emotional landscape can be very helpful in minimizing your loved one’s emotional response.

A professional therapist and/or a support group, as well as the assisted living facility staff, can help you here. By remaining calm yourself, and learning the best and most comfortable way to hug and say goodbye to your loved one, may greatly reduce or even eliminate their strong response.

Learn more about what happens after you go

It is not uncommon for those having a dramatic goodbye reaction to then quickly snap back to “center,” going normally about their day once their spouses or family members leave.

Again, remaining in communication with administration and staff is crucial in determining how much of a problem their tearful or emotional goodbye really is.

If it turns out your loved one continues his/her reactive response (crying and remaining agitated, etc.) for a long time after you leave, that’s one thing. If it turns out that you feel sadness and guilt for far longer than your loved one is sad – it may be time to re-frame the farewell story for yourself.

Work on learning how to be present with their very real sadness at your parting, but with the confidence and peace of mind that in a short while, they’ll be back to normal again. As we touch on below, you’ll feel a lot less guilty if you find out your loved one wipes his/her tears once you drive away and heads happily over to the community room for the piano player or singing hour.

Evaluate their room and make it as home-like as possible

At the Memory Care Center, we work closely with families to facilitate the transition into our center – and that includes recommendations on what to bring to their room and living space feels as personal and cozy as possible.

Take another look around their room and ask them about what items they might like to see added or swapped out. Having familiar textures, pictures, memory-keepers, scents, etc., in their room can work wonders for anchoring them between visits.

Depending on what the particular facility allows, “comfort items” typically include things like:

  • A favorite throw blanket/pillow
  • Personalized bedding
  • Photos of family and pets
  • Music player loaded with favorite songs/music
  • A stuffed animal or a doll to “love” if real pets aren’t allowed
  • Photo album with pictures from their childhood and life
  • A digital frame that keeps a running stream of photos going
  • Live plants or flowers

A simple conversation may enlighten you about things s/he wished had been brought, things s/he wishes were there, etc., and hopefully, you can find a way to accommodate their needs.

Work with staff to find the best time for visits/departures

Often, that tearful, fretful or even dramatic goodbye scene has more to do with your loved one’s daily rhythm than it does about your departure.

Check in with the staff to learn more about your loved one’s “best times of day” versus the times of day they struggle the most. Are there days of the week that are better than others?

Insight into those questions may help you find a better day of the week or better time of day, and that simple calendar shift could make a notable difference.

Another important question to ask if you haven’t done so already: what activities are your loved one’s favorite(s)?

You may find that timing your visit just ahead of their favorite activity (crafts, music time, the weekly movie date, etc.) means they’re ready for you to go so they can join their friends and stick to their routine. Then you can intentionally schedule your farewell to coincide with the start of Bingo or ballroom dancing class…

Seek a support group

Joining a support group can be instrumental in helping you facilitate the spectrum of emotions that arise when you have a spouse, parent or loved one in memory care. These support groups meet during a range of days and times, so hopefully, you can find a local support group in your area that works for your schedule.

No, the group can’t make the grief, sadness, and anguish go away altogether, but there is great comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Plus, sitting with a group of people who have been where you are means you have access to all kinds of “professional” tips, recommendations and ideas that may help you figure out the best way for bidding farewell to your loved one without absorbing the impact of their intense reaction.

Learning To Cope With Saying Goodbye To A Loved One In Assisted Living

It may take more time than is comfortable for you, but by considering the above ideas, you’ll find a way to navigate tearful goodbyes with less emotional angst.

Find helpful information in these related articles:

 

 

How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

Posted on

Moving a parent or senior loved one with dementia into an assisted living or memory care community is a major transition. It’s an emotional journey and there are bound to be upsets and logistical challenges along the way.

Understanding How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

Having a go-to list of tips and suggestions can help you and your family better prepare to move a parent with dementia to assisted living while ensuring s/he receives impeccable care.

Start A Conversation Early (depending on the stage of memory loss)

If possible, begin making the long-term care plan as early as possible after the dementia diagnosis.

If your parent or loved one is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, looking ahead to find the right community allows them to be a part of the process, which can make for a smoother transition when moving day arrives.

Ideally, the time to move to a community is when s/he is no longer able to live safely and independently at home or when the level of care required becomes more than what you and/or other caregivers are able to provide from a time and safety perspective.

On the flip side, if your loved one is in mid-to later-stages of the disease, it can be upsetting to engage him/her in selecting a community and planning moving day.  In some cases, it is better to wait until the change is eminent to announce the move, and enlist the help of family and friends for decision-making, sorting, and packing.

Visit our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care for more insight into this topic.

Choose A Community Specializing In Memory Care

Not all assisted living communities are created equal, and many of them aren’t equipped to adequately care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Moving is challenging enough, and the last thing you want to do is have to move your parent a second time unless you absolutely must, so it is important to select the right community specializing in memory care.

Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities to help you select the best new home for your loved one.

Consider Visiting The New Assisted Living Community Together Before Moving Day

Familiarity is key to feeling safe.

Once a community is selected, some people find visiting the community a few times before moving day helps ease the transition. You and your loved one may consider attending and participating in activities and events, meeting other residents with similar interests and interacting with staff.  

Each of these visits proactively builds layers of familiarity.

Schedule The Move For Their “Best Time Of The Day”

Typically, late mornings and early afternoons are a dementia patient’s “best time of the day.” Early mornings and evenings may be more difficult.

The transition from one home to the next will be less stressful when your parent is most likely to be calm, allowing more time to settle in before s/he becomes fatigued or agitated.

Bring A Simple Collection Of Favorite Things

Odds are their new room is smaller than their current home, and clutter is a recipe for confusion and trip hazards.

If you haven’t received information from the assisted living community director or staff about what to bring from home, give them a call to find out how much is “just enough” to bring.

In some communities, rooms come furnished, but you should still be able to bring touches from home such as a favorite chair, wall art, personalized bedding, a CD player or iPod/docking station to play his/her favorite music.

At The Memory Center, our rooms are unfurnished to allow residents and their families to more closely recreate a space that looks and feels like home.

Having familiar pieces from home helps new residents settle in more quickly. And again, be careful about asking your parent “which item(s) do you want to take with you…,” as these types of decisions can be agitating in later stages of the disease.

We recommend reading Making A New Space In Assisted Living Or Memory Care Feel Like Home for more information on this important topic.

Take Advantage Of Counseling Services & Transition Programs

This is a major physical transition, to be sure, but it’s also a major emotional transition for everyone involved.

Often, spouses and family members are the most dramatically affected as they watch their loved one settle seamlessly into place while the rest of the family is experiencing a sense of grief. If your parent opts to move into assisted living in the earlier stages of dementia, you may find support from a counselor valuable who can help you or your family process the complex array of emotions the transition elicits.

If you’ve been an integral part of your parent’s dementia care, we suggest reading, Adjusting to Life…After Being a Caregiver, which offers nourishing tips on how to handle your next steps.

Communicate With The New Caregiving Staff

First and foremost, the staff want to get to know new residents. The more they know about your parent, the easier it is to spark conversations and connect with him/her as s/he settles in.

Additionally, it’s helpful to lean on the staff and allow them to explain the new transition and to support your parent during the move. Again, choosing a memory care-specific community means the administration and staff are well-versed experts and will know exactly what to say without causing further confusion or upset for your parent.

Carefully Deciding How to Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

As with all life transitions, mindful and methodical preparation is the key to minimizing mental and emotional stress. Selecting an assisted living center that specializes in memory care will provide the support you need throughout the move.

You may find interest in these related articles:

 

 

 

Making A New Space In Assisted Living Or Memory Care Feel Like Home

Posted on

No matter how much a memory care center does to create a warm, homey and comfortable ambiance – it isn’t possible to satisfy the personal tastes of every resident who call the community “home.”

At The Memory Center (TMC), we’ve developed a Town Center experience for the overarching design, using iconic stimuli from the past and including amenities such as a movie theater, pub, hair salon, general store, and more.

Our common spaces are filled with natural light and style and our landscapes are beautifully designed.  We also recognize residents and their families want spaces to feel like home and familiar.  This is especially true in resident bedrooms.  That’s why we heartily encourage residents and their families to think of our beautiful space as a backdrop to create the bedroom space representing what home feels like to you.

Tips To Make A Senior At Home In A New Environment

If you have visited loved ones in senior living facilities, or even toured some, you may have noticed sleeping areas resembling a hospital or rehab setting vs. an inviting and comfortable space.  When it comes to individual rooms at TMC, we intentionally create light filled spaces with neutral color palettes, and without standard furnishings. This way, each resident has the opportunity to add his/her personal furnishings and touches from home. We encourage families to bring familiar artwork, furniture and bedding that express individual style and a lifetime of memories. 

Below are some of tips to make a new room in a senior community feel like home.

Re-Create An At Home Space With Familiar Furniture Pieces

To help your family member settle into the new space and re-create their comfortable bedroom from home, bring pieces that are familiar and reflect their design style – such as their favorite chair, side table and small dresser.  Just make sure to leave family heirlooms at home. 

When deciding what to bring, look around your loved one’s current bedroom and take notes. Is there a nightstand on the right or left hand side of the bed and what do they keep on the nightstand?  Which side of the bed are they used to getting out of in the morning?  Do they keep a robe and slippers on a hook nearby?  With planning you can provide the small touches of home they are used to.

If bringing existing furniture isn’t possible, we can provide suggestions on where other families found home-like furnishings that work well in the space and we can provide guidance on how to prepare a comfortable room.  We will even help with furniture placement.

Use Favorite Colors, Bedding, Throw Pillows & Blankets

Decorative bedding, throw pillows and blankets help meet your loved one’s preferred comfort needs but also provide a simple way to add color, pattern, and personal style to the new living space.

Do keep in mind we don’t encourage you to bring expensive or cherished items.  Family heirloom quilts or expensive bedding is best preserved by other family members to keep them safe and sound.

Bring Favorite Artwork & Photographs

Think about which pieces of art are favorites for your loved one?

Bedrooms at The Memory Center have enough wall space to accommodate a few favorite pieces of art or bulletin board of family photos and notes.  Looking up to see a favorite work of art or framed photos of the family and pets creates an immediate sense of familiarity and can be essential for new residents as they settle in and begin creating a community of their own.

While rooms at The Memory Center are spacious, there simply isn’t enough room for every favorite photograph to be on display. Thus, we encourage families to assemble photo albums, curating photographs through the ages. A small, portable album – with an easy-to-clean cover – will be well-appreciated as our residents often enjoy carrying albums around to share stories and “introduce” family to their new acquaintances and friends.

Incorporate Potted Plants Or Ready-To-Fill Vases

Was your loved one an avid gardener? Did s/he grow fresh herbs or look forward to a fresh flower arrangement on the dining room table or buffet? Consider an easy potted plant and/or a vase that’s ready to accommodate flowers. If fresh flowers are important, consider a seasonal bouquet subscription which can be delivered regularly. Our staff will ensure plants are watered as needed and we can switch out fresh flowers when they arrive.

TMC’s extensive and beautifully landscaped grounds will also provide a connection to Mother Nature and growing things.  Our residents love to spend time in our sunny patio and garden.  If your loved one is an avid gardener, we’ll make sure s/he can help point out favorite flowers in the garden or along our secure walking trails so s/he continues an activity that is familiar and productive.

Personalize Your Frame

Each room at The Memory Center has a frame next to the door ready to be customized by, and for, the resident.

Fill this space with a background color or pattern (wallpaper works well) that suits the resident’s style. Then add things like a favorite photo of themselves and family and/or a pet, or a picture of him/her doing something s/he loves.

In addition to personalizing the space, they’re helpful reminders for new residents so they can easily tell which room is theirs. Decorated frames also help new residents get to know neighbors, staff and passing guests, often providing a perfect segue to begin a conversation.

The more personalized the framed board the more special the space will feel and the sooner your loved one will sense a connection to their new home.

Don’t Forget Music

Did you know music is proven to reduce anxiety and helps those with dementia to recall more memories?

Feel free to bring a pre-loaded iPod/docking station or a CD player and CDs. Nothing says, “I’m home…” as the ability to switch on a music player to hear your favorite songs. We’ll make sure we know which radio stations are their favorites as well so staff can turn the radio on/off occasionally when residents want to hear something different.

Personalizing Your Loved One’s New Living Space

The more personalized a room is decorated, the more at ease a new resident will feel.

Have questions about what does work – or doesn’t work well – to personalize your new living space? All you have to do is ask. Our administrators and staff are always happy to answer questions and brainstorm ideas to help new residents settle in peacefully so they feel at home in their new space.

You may find interest in these related articles:

 

 

 

LATEST NEWS


27
Jun

Keeping Your Loved One With Dementia At Home: Is It The Best Option?

Deciding when to move a loved one from home-based care to a memory care center is a difficult topic. In most cases, spouses and families opt to wait until their...

READ MORE

15
Jun

Is Medicare/Medicaid An Option For To Pay For Memory Center/Assisted Living?

Financing a residency at a memory care center or assisted living facility can seem overwhelming at first.  If that’s the case for you, know that most residents and their families...

READ MORE

30
Apr

Why Is There A Deposit For Memory Care?

There is no mystery around the fact that covering costs associated with assisted living and memory care facilities requires astute financial planning. The sooner you begin planning for these costs,...

READ MORE

GET MEMORY CARE NEWS & TIPS


Sign up for e-mail updates, news and tips from The Memory Center.

News & Tips
Sending

GET IN TOUCH


We want to hear from you. Feel free to ask a question or request more information about The Memory Center and our communities.

The Memory Center - Atlanta
The Memory Center - Virginia Beach
The Memory Center - Richmond

Get in Touch
* Indicated required fields
Sending
Top