How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

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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.

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

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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.

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What Makes The Memory Center Different?

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What Makes The Memory Center Different?

Choosing the right memory care community is essential to your loved one’s well-being, as well as the well-being of your family.

You want to select a place that is as dedicated to your loved one’s mental and physical well-being, as much as to their emotional comfort and security. This is where The Memory Center excels.

We also recommend reading, How to Compare Assisted Living Communities, which outlines features, benefits and care specific to memory care.

Memory Care Dedicated to Physical, Mental and Emotional Well-Being of Residents

The Memory Center is primarily established to support the physical health of our residents, emphasizing the most current and relevant science around Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions. However, we also know 100% that our residents fare best when their environment is conducive to a life well-lived.

To that end, our memory care center differs from many of the surrounding options, particularly in regards to the following six features:

1. On-site medical director visits

As you know, transitions become increasingly difficult for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. At the same time, those with dementia often have existing medical conditions or may develop other age-related conditions during their time here.

As a result, we have an on-site medical director who is available on a daily basis to confer with our staff nurses (who are on-site 24-hours a day) to address any issues that arise.

Our medical director is a fellowship-trained geriatrician who, in addition to being available to our nurses, also schedules assessments with each of our patients on a weekly basis.

The medical director coordinates home health services for physical, occupational, speech, and psychiatric therapies as needed, ensuring our patients rarely need to leave the premises for routine appointments and specialist visits.

Whether you choose one of our Memory Care Centers or not, we highly recommend narrowing your memory care choices to those with on-site medical staff to reduce the number of off-site appointments or lab work that can agitate residents and cause unnecessary stress.

what makes the memory center different2. Normalcy in a safe, secure environment

Routine and normalcy is a key component in mitigating the side effects of dementia-related conditions, and it is also shown to slow down their progression. This is why The Memory Center establishes normal, safe, and reliable daily rhythms.  

Our center is designed to be attractive and includes the comforts of home and community, all within an extremely safe and secure environment. Our center was built with complete respect for the primary environmental objectives recommended by The Alzheimer’s Association.

We’ve gone above and beyond to include a town-center concept with safe and highly-secure outdoor areas, including courtyards and walking paths.

3. Individualized care and programming

Sure, there are multiple similarities in terms of how dementia and Alzheimer’s show up, and what that means for those who are diagnosed. That being said, we also recognize that each of our residents is a unique individual,so we provide tailored care for each and every one.

This includes things like:

  • Specialized meal plans. All of the foods and treats available via our cafeteria, meal plans and the town center’s cafes and pub are made with respect to a healthy diet. We can create meal plans specific to a resident’s existing medical restrictions and/or sensitivities.
  • Individual health care plans. As mentioned above, our dedicated on-site medical director, nurses and care providers are well-versed on each of our resident’s specific care plans and needs.
  • Social events and programming. Our diverse array of classes, entertainment, social offerings, and classes are so compelling that we often hear quips from residents’ family and friends that they are ready to move in. These events are key to honoring the individual and creating a healthy, stimulating, and social environment that engages residents on a daily basis.

4. The inclusion of residents in every aspect of the day

While we do respect a resident’s choice to spend a day to themselves once in a while, we also provide the opportunity to participate in every aspect of the day. This is done via routine check-ins, conversations, and walks with staff.

Our activities and entertainment coordinators thoughtfully create the weekly and monthly itineraries in a way that allows every resident to participate in the activities they enjoy on a regular basis.

5. Programs designed for those with dementia are not restricted in any way

Often, well-meaning assisted living facilities offer programs designed for those with dementia but then simplify them unnecessarily. This results in classes that are better suited for young children, rather than independent adults.

At The Memory Care Centers, we do prioritize programs that are both beneficial for those with dementia and to complement our residents’ innate talents and interests, but they are not simplified.

Teachers, instructors, and presenters put together engaging, stimulating, and even challenging curricula and only amend these if a resident needs it, or to accommodate an existing disability. This enables our residents to embrace their interests and enjoy their faculties to the absolute fullest.

6. Carefully thought out design to trigger reminiscing and participation

Humans are social creatures, so social bonds, daily interaction and human-to-human connections are key to a lively, active and engaged mind and body.

To this effort, every aspect of the outdoor and interior designs are dedicated to triggering reminiscences, participation, and socialization.

This includes things such as:

  • Warm colors and comfortable, homey furnishings
  • Classic interior designs that are contemporary but include historical and traditional architectural accents
  • Ample daylighting and lighting plans that encourage a healthy circadian rhythm
  • Communal areas and gathering spaces
  • Delicious food options
  • Our incredible Town Center concept
  • Plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy Mother Nature

Innovative Memory Care Differentiators

Our intentional respect to these six memory care differentiators make The Memory Center unique amongst the area’s memory care and assisted living facility options.

Learn more


Taking Care Of Yourself & Managing Time After Being A Caregiver

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As a caregiver, you invested countless hours meeting your loved one’s needs. Now that your season of caregiving has ended, you may feel uncertain about what to do next.

12 Tips For Adjusting To Life After Being A Caregiver

Consider these tips that help you care for yourself and manage your time.

tips for grieving caregivers1. Give yourself permission and time to grieve

After any loss, you will need time to grieve.

The commonly held stages of grief include:   

  • Denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, and/or isolation   
  • Anger   
  • Bargaining   
  • Despair and/or depression   
  • Acceptance   

Instead of hiding or feeling ashamed or guilty, give yourself permission to experience the grieving process. Realize that everyone grieves differently, and you may progress through the grief stages methodically or swing back and forth.

Likewise, you may experience intense emotions or a quiet sadness. No matter what you feel, understand that your grief is normal and that you have the right and need to experience grief in your way.

2. Use healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms

Grief can last months or even years, and you may wonder if you’ll ever return to normal. To cope, you may turn to drugs, alcohol, food, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

While you will never forget your loved one, we promise that the pain will eventually subside. Stuffing your emotions or drowning your feelings will only hurt you now and into the future. In fact, unhealthy and inappropriate coping can cause physical pain, emotional illnesses or long-term negative reactions.

Choose to exercise, talk, journal, or embrace other positive and healthy coping mechanisms as you grieve and protect yourself.

3. Ask for and accept help

In your caregiver role, you were the one who gave all the help. Caregiving depletes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources, and now you’re the one in need of assistance.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help as needed. Consider writing a list of tasks others can do for you or call friends who will listen and offer support.

By asking for and accepting help, you receive support and allow others to show you love.

4. Take care of your health

Visiting a doctor may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you spent a lot of time in a hospital with your loved one. You deserve to care for yourself, though, as you respect and energize your body during the grieving process.

Apply your caregiving duties to yourself and insist on a healthy daily regimen. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and visit your doctor for scheduled checkups.

Prioritizing your health equips and strengthens you for your grief journey.

5. Join a support group

Talking about your caregiving and grief experiences may scare you. It’s also hard to be vulnerable and continue to rehash the events surrounding your loved one’s passing.

Other caregivers and professional therapists or grief counselors understand what you’ve gone through. You can share your experiences and discuss your feelings and concerns in a support group. Here, you’ll gain practical advice and emotional support that sustains you as you adjust to life after caregiving.

Talking and sharing can also help others find healing, too.

6. Delay major decisions

The act of caregiving and managing grief takes a toll on your body, mind, and emotions. You need time to find a new normal.

Give yourself at least a year or as much time as you need before you make any major decisions, such as moving, growing your family, changing jobs, or entering a romantic relationship.

This cushion of time prevents you from making an emotional decision you later regret and helps you rediscover yourself.

7. Embrace new routines

Much of your daily routine used to revolve around caring for your loved one. Now, you may miss your caregiving responsibilities and struggle with the significant changes in your daily routine.

Rest assured that in time you can and will develop a new routine that becomes familiar, comfortable, and fulfilling. Start by deciding what will fulfill you each day. Remember to eat, exercise, and spend time doing things that fulfill you, too.

These steps lead you to embrace a new and positive routine.

8. Reevaluate your relationships

Loss affects everyone differently. Some people in your life may step up and offer additional support while others step away and distance themselves.

This relationship ebb and flow after a loss is normal, and you will eventually rediscover a strong and healthy support system.

For now, try to accept inevitable relationship changes. You can reduce stress when you bless and release people who withdraw and show gratitude for people who choose to stay.

9. Carefully choose new responsibilities

Without your caregiving duties, you may have fewer or even no responsibilities. You may find yourself bored, frustrated, or angry and be tempted to over-function and jump right into another caregiving relationship.

Consider giving yourself an extended time off from helping others. Work instead on the hard job of grieving.

You will also benefit from rediscovering the activities, interests, and duties that are important and fulfilling for you. Then carefully choose the new responsibilities you want to embrace as you fill your time.

10. Find fulfilling activities and interests

Caregiving takes time and energy. Instead of enjoying activities and investing in interests that used to be important, you may have put yourself on the back burner.

Now’s a great time to return to the activities and interests that mattered before you took on your caregiving role. You may even develop new hobbies.

Whichever experiences you choose to embrace, know that it’s healthy to fill some of your time with activities and interests that fulfill you and make you happy and content.

11. Discover new priorities and goals

Your role as a caregiver revolved around meeting your loved one’s needs and putting their priorities and goals above your own. Through that process, you may have given up your dreams.

Take time now to think about your future and what you want your life to look like. Then decide your priorities and set goals that propel you to make your dreams come true.

12. Help others

As an experienced caregiver, you have developed dozens of skills. You also understand the hard work caregiving takes, and you know about the grieving process firsthand.

Consider using your experience to help others. You could offer encouraging and beneficial support to other caregivers and make a difference in their lives.

By giving back, you gain an outlet for your energy and may even ease some of your grief symptoms.

Rebuilding Life When Caregiving Ends

Your role as a caregiver for your loved one may be over, but you can now embrace a new season of life.

Consider implementing these tips. With them, you find fulfillment and meaning as you care for yourself and manage your time.

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Atlanta Resource Guide For Alzheimer’s Care And Support

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An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is life changing, and it is also a call-to-action.

The sooner you can breathe through the initial shock and adjustment period, the better able you’ll be to create a long-term care plan that involves the input, opinions, and preferences of your loved one.

Quick action also optimizes the time available to research and learn more about the Alzheimer’s journey before it progresses to mid- or later-stages.

This gives you a more spacious ability to explore local options for the following:

  • Adult day care
  • Home care
  • Memory care

It also enables you to thoughtfully develop and assemble a financial plan that supports your loved one’s long-term care goals.

Top Online Resources to Learn About Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Care

There is only so much you can take in at a doctor’s appointment, especially in the wake of a confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The odds are that in addition to visiting your general practitioner, you’ll be referred to a neurologist.

Hopefully, your healthcare team will provide plenty of information about Alzheimer’s via pamphlets, and allow ample time for your questions and answers. We recommend recording appointments (with the doctor’s permission), so you can listen back afterward.

There are a wide range of reputable, online resources for learning about Alzheimer’s disease, keeping up on the latest research regarding medications and/or lifestyle changes that slow its progression, as well as information about the type of long-term care that’s most successful for those with mid- to late-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The following are the most well-respected and current websites available.

The National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Page

The US Department of Health and Human Services underwrites an organization called the National Institute of Health (NIH). Under this umbrella also lives the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which hosts an Alzheimer’s Disease page.

This is a solid place to start when you want to learn everything you can about Alzheimer’s, including general descriptions of the disease, information about caregiving needs and options as well as up-to-date facts about current Alzheimer’s research.

Another exciting thing about the NIA’s page is that it provides information about upcoming and existing clinical trials in which consenting adults can participate.

Additionally, there is a wealth of educational resources about diet and lifestyle changes that help to prevent Alzheimer’s, slow down its progression and to improve the outcome for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading voluntary health association dedicated to supporting Alzheimer’s research, providing information about Alzheimer’s and memory care, and connecting others with Alzheimer’s support in the Atlanta area and online.

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded more than 30 years ago when a group of families and caregivers joined together to create an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Today, the AA has connected with and provided support to millions of people affected by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and their website continues to be a premier resource for all aspects of Alzheimer’s information.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Similar to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was founded by individuals who are personally affected by Alzheimer’s.

One of their most helpful resources is a national toll-free hotline, (866-232-8484), that is staffed entirely by licensed clinical social workers specializing in Alzheimer’s care, treatment and support.

Like other non-profits, the AFA funds research and does everything possible to provide caregiver support and educate the public about Alzheimer’s, including information about confidential memory screening services available in Atlanta and elsewhere. Memory screenings are funded by generous donors and grantors and have been used to screen more than four million people nationwide.

Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis spreads ripples far beyond the lives of the patient, most powerfully impacting their spouse, immediate family and the next ring of family members and close friends.

Having conversations with these individuals early establishes your first rungs of support. Often, individuals are reticent to share this information and may want to keep it a secret out of fear, feelings of embarrassment and shame, etc.

While a short period of private adjustment is understandable, the sooner you feel comfortable having deep conversations with family and close friends, the better you’ll navigate a long-term care plan that makes sense for you and loved ones.

Read, Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, which also outlines how to bring close friends and family into the conversation.

Learn About Memory Care Options

One of the first items of business is creating a memory care plan; again, this is one of the reasons early action is so critical.

While it’s true people with early stages of Alzheimer’s can do fine for a bit by implementing in-home caregiving support, it’s also true that caregiving becomes quickly overwhelming for spouse caregivers. Thus, it makes sense to learn all you can about the full spectrum of options to add to your Alzheimer’s support and care kit.

In almost all cases, those with Alzheimer’s fare best when they move to memory care communities earlier, rather than later, so individuals have time to feel at home and adjust to their new environment while they are still able to make decisions and be more fully present in their day-to-day lives.

Once mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s sets in, significant transitions are highly stressful for both patient and spouse. And, sadly, in the attempt to “preserve the status-quo” for as long as possible, the resulting stress and strain of the move can exacerbate their symptoms.

Respite Care

In the beginning, while your loved one lives at home, you’ll need respite care. This invaluable service provides a break for primary caregivers.

While respite care can be brought in, or offered by a local senior center, we recommend using respite care options offered by the assisted living or memory care centers you’re currently researching. It’s an opportunity to familiarize yourself with their grounds, services, programs, and staff and ask important questions to learn more about the community.

Assisted Living Options

Until recently, those with later-stage Alzheimer’s moved into assisted living and/or nursing home facilities. These are still options, but we recommend only considering facilities offering dedicated memory care services since the needs and care required for those with Alzheimer’s are different from that of the general assisted living population.

Read, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, for more information.

Memory Care Centers

Dedicated Memory Care Centers are the best way to ensure patients live in supportive, stimulating and caring environments specifically designed and dedicated to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In addition to exemplary, round-the-clock care, high-quality memory care centers have on-site doctors, nurses, dental care, pharmacies, etc., to ease the transition for residents who are ill or require routine, managed care for existing medical conditions.

Similarly, things like Town Center models, art and music facilities, classes and other amenities provide a sense of “normal life” and make it a pleasure for spouses, friends and family members to visit.

Ultimately, memory care centers adhere to the Alzheimer Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, focused on tenets like person-centered care, on-site medical staff and supportive and therapeutic environments. All are proven to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Atlanta

Challenging conditions of an aging brain should be met with a supportive well-rounded community carefully planned for the individual.

This not only includes access to all of the necessary resources for a high quality of life today but one that can adapt to who they are tomorrow.

Learn more about memory care in Atlanta

How Dementia Affects the Younger Population

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Dementia is any condition that includes degeneration of the brain tissue. It can impair neurological functions such as reasoning, memory and communication. The symptoms of dementia also include emotional characteristics such as behavior, mood and personality. Each case of dementia is unique due to the brain’s complexity, especially its condition.

Most people consider dementia to be the inflection of old age as it generally becomes more likely as we get older. However, a significant number of dementia patients are also younger. Young onset dementia (YOD) is any type of dementia that affects someone under 65 years of age.

The significance of this age is primarily social, rather than biological because it’s the traditional age of retirement. Social changes during the past few decades have largely erased this distinction, making a designation of YOD generally irrelevant to treatment.

…Read More

Alzheimer’s In-Home Care vs. Memory Care Facilities

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“There’s no place like home…” is certainly true. This can feel especially poignant for those with Alzheimer’s, who are reluctant to leave a beloved spouse, pets, and the familiar comforts of home.

It’s also true that as Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions progress, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a loved one well cared for, even with full-time home care in place.

Differences in Alzheimer’s In-Home Care and Memory Care Facility

There is no single answer to this question because every situation is different. However, we can shed some light on the differences between the two.

Patients with mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s typically do best in a memory care facility. This is the case unless the family has taken great strides to provide a long-term care plan, to include 24/7 coverage of the following:

  • Regular in-home care
  • Skilled home health care
  • Specific nutrition guidelines
  • Ideal memory care-themed activities

Because most families are unable to accommodate that level of care, many Alzheimer’s patients end up in-home care settings that unknowingly hinder, rather than promote, their well-being.

Eventually, they’re transitioned into a memory care facility in crisis, creating a more traumatic experience for everyone involved.

Care Models for Alzheimer’s In-Home Care and Memory Care Facilities

Consider the different levels of care offered in Alzheimer’s in-home care and memory care facilities.

You can be best informed on these differences if you have a clear understanding of the following:

  • Fact-based understandings of Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses.
  • A realistic awareness of the quantity and quality of care required, which exponentially increases over time.
  • An assessment of current health conditions (if any) and those likely to develop with age, personal/family medical history, and/or in response to dementia-related side effects.
  • The big financial picture
  • Awareness that home-based care plans require some form of respite care from caregivers who are trained in memory care.
  • Transitions significantly diminish the well-being of those with mid- to later stages of Alzheimer’s, including big moves and even the ins-and-outs of getting to/from various medical appointments, etc.

In almost all cases, the ideal memory care model is one that provides the required level of support and care in the home, if desired, during the early stages of the disease.

Transitions from Alzheimer’s in-home care to memory care facility should take place while your loved one has some level of authority regarding decisions and timelines.

Considerations When Researching Alzheimer’s In-Home Care and Memory Care Facilities  

Just this year, the Alzheimer’s Association posted an incredible document titled, Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, published as a supplemental issue of The Gerontologist.

This includes some of the most up-to-date research findings, which support the following comparisons and recommendations about Alzheimer’s in-home care and memory care facilities, and at what point a transition is best.

When considering your options of Alzheimer’s in-home care and memory care facilities, it’s important to have a solid understanding of several factors, including:

  • Importance of pre-planning care decisions
  • Challenges posed by different care options
  • Activity and social-based needs of your loved one
  • Medical support needs of your loved one
  • Difficulty in waiting to transition from home care to memory facility

at home alzheimer's care atlantaEarly decisions about long-term memory care are ideal

After the shock of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis wears off, it’s no time to pretend “business as usual.” It’s time to rally the troops, ensuring everyone understands what this diagnosis means in a relevant timeline specific to the age/medical condition of your loved one.  

The earlier the diagnosis the better because an early diagnosis allows the individual to have more autonomy and empowerment in expressing ideas, opinions, and desires.

A family meeting about Alzheimer’s care should address:

  • The collective feelings, fears, anger, grief, etc. about the situation.
  • Appreciation for the reality that we’re better informed and better equipped than ever to provide healthy, active and as-independent-as-possible lifestyles for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • The importance of being proactive about researching all long-term care options.
  • Dementia is a progressive disease, almost without exception; some changes happen unpredictably and seemingly overnight, so preparation is everything.
  • Prospective timelines for the transition from Alzheimer’s in-home care to memory care facility.
  • Researching respite care options, knowing respite caregivers need to be well-versed in memory care in the more challenging stages, times of day, etc.

Feeling nervous about the conversation? Read, our Guide for Talking For Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care.

Understand the Challenges Around the Perks of Home Care

While home care does have it’s perks, particularly around the initial diagnosis phase, there are serious challenges when it comes to providing exceptional memory care for your loved one as well as providing the medical care s/he requires now and in the future.

All this must be done while simultaneously creating a “new reality” around the following:

  • Social interactions
  • Relationship adjustments
  • Providing well-rounded activity opportunities
  • Taking time for thoughtful outings that are not too taxing
  • Nighttime/full-time care requirements

It is critical to consider the challenges inherent in a long-term Alzheimer’s in-home care plan.

Consider the social and activity-based needs

If your loved one lives alone, there is almost no circumstance where home care trumps memory care.

The research is very clear that personalized, social engagements are not only good for those with Alzheimer’s, they actually slow down the disease’s progression.

The social sphere of someone with dementia shrinks considerably as the disease progresses; if that person lives alone, interactions with a handful of rotating caregivers, is simply not enough.

Even an individual who lives with a spouse or family members nearby cannot derive the same level of social interactions – let alone art classes, music exposure, gardening, etc. that takes place via direction or facilitation of a memory care expert.

Available on-site medical support

Any medical change, emergency, illness, medication reaction etc. requires transport from home to the doctor, hospital, urgent care, etc., and these disruptions to the norm are very disturbing to the Alzheimer’s patient.

The more memory and medical care are provided via long-term continuums, the better the overall outcome is for Alzheimer’s patients.

High-quality memory care facilities have nurses on-site, available around the clock, and the large majority of residents’ medical conditions and pharmacy needs are managed onsite. This enables a more relaxing, consistent routine for residents, all provided by familiar faces.

Inevitable transitions become increasingly difficult over time

If you decide to care for a loved one at home until you can no longer manage, you’re in a precarious position.

Waiting until later-stage Alzheimer’s has set in puts you and your loved one at risk for the following scenarios:

  • The inevitable transition from your home into memory care may be extremely difficult for the one with Alzheimer’s and much more traumatic for you.
  • You may put yourself and key family members at risk for burnout, continually avoiding the transition until your/their health and well-being are compromised.
  • Your loved one’s Alzheimer’s may, ironically, become “worse” or more progressed by not having skilled memory care in place earlier on.

Read, When to Move to a Memory Care Facility, and learn about the signs indicating when moving to a memory care facility is the right move.

Research Memory Care Facilities Now

It’s never too early to explore memory care facility options. In fact, touring them early is not only helpful for narrowing down prospects, it’s a tremendous resource during your overall adjustment phase.

Through these tours and interviews with memory care experts you and loved ones have access to expert information, education, recommendations, etc., to help you acclimate to your new situation.

Instead of thinking of memory care facility tours as a, “we always said we’d never…” scenario, think of them as an empowering way to learn all you can about memory care and your options without any obligation.

This checklist, Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, provides a helpful framework for your conversations with memory care administrators and staff.

Contact The Memory Center to learn more about your options.

How To Know It’s Time For Memory Care

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When something acute happens, like a traumatic car accident or terminal illness diagnosis, the natural reaction is to jump into action making plans.

On the other hand, age-related cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia don’t always cause such immediate impact. Rather, signs and symptoms unfold over a period of time, making it difficult to know when memory care is truly needed.

There are also the psychological and emotional impacts of dementia-related conditions on a person’s spouse, loved ones and family. Denial, emotionally driven conversations and the thought that caregiving can’t be that difficult, all add to the challenge of making mindful, long-term care plans.

5 Signs A Loved One Needs Memory Care

Multiple studies show moving those with Alzheimer’s or dementia into memory care communities sooner, rather than later, results in better outcomes for patients–mentally, physically and emotionally.

The following are five clear signs it’s the right time for memory care.

1. Alzheimer’s, dementia or another dementia-related condition diagnosis

Everyone is forgetful at times, and this forgetfulness increases with age.

However, routine forgetting of important dates, names, how to get to familiar places, to pay bills, etc. is not normal. These are often the first signs of dementia and should trigger an appointment with your physician.

Once a diagnosis is given, it’s time to begin having conversations about memory care.  

The desire to live at home for as long as possible is understandable and encouraged in the beginning stages so long as there are no serious safety issues at risk.

At the same time, this is your best opportunity to begin visiting, touring and exploring reputable, licensed memory care facilities in your area. This process results in a wealth of information and resources.

As mentioned above, studies show that it’s better to transition individuals from home into memory care before more dangerous signs and symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s surface.

Transitioning earlier allows your loved one to have a say in his/her future which is extremely important.  It also enables necessary adjustment time, so they’re in familiar surroundings, forming relationships and connections with staff, employees and other residents when they progress to later stages of dementia.

2. Caregiver stress

Caregiving for a loved one with memory care is a 24/7 occupation.

Without engaging in regular respite care, it becomes impossible to sustain the situation. Even with qualified, in-home care providers, those with mid to later stages of memory loss require increasing levels of medical assistance, and the enormity of unceasing tasks is more than almost any household can accommodate.

If you’re approaching, or have already reached, a point where caregiving is all-consuming, it’s time to consider memory care.

Similarly, if you find yourself a member of the “Sandwich Generation”, stuck between an aging parent requiring care, a job and the needs of your own family, memory care is a must or else you’ll quickly go from being a caregiver to needing a caregiver of your own.

care for parents with alzheimers3. A decline in overall health

As memory loss sets in, so do the abilities to drive a car, make grocery lists, prepare food, remember daily medications, or even remember to eat.

Losing track of days and times has a disastrous effect on the circadian rhythm, contributing to Sundowner’s syndrome, insomnia and other sleep disorders that take on toll on one’s health and well-being.

Physical signs include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of food in the fridge or cabinets
  • Evidence of medication not taken (or overtaken)
  • Neglected personal hygiene
  • Hunched or sunken posture
  • Inexplicable bruises, breaks and/or injuries
  • Unpaid bills and missed appointments

The inability to remember how to get home or where one is going puts patients at risk for injury, getting lost or becoming victims of scams and potentially violent crimes.

Similarly, those with dementia are more prone to being injured at home and are less able to remember how to seek help, forgetting to press a “life alert’ button or how to use the phone to call 911.

If you find yourself worrying about a loved ones’ well-being on a regular basis, the transition to memory care brings peace of mind while simultaneously ensuring s/he is supported, attended to and cared for day-in and day-out.

4. Little to no social life

The social life of someone with dementia shrinks considerably, exacerbating and even accelerating the condition.

In addition to on-site medical care and low caregiver-to-resident ratios, memory care facility residents have rich and vibrant social lives. Daily activities, supervised excursions, and creative outlets are a foundation upon which these center were developed, and the positive benefits of those outlets are evidenced.

Read about our Philosophy to learn more about the research and wisdom behind memory care centers, and to learn about our own Town Center design, which helps residents feel connected to neighborhood-based lifestyles.

5. Your instincts are telling you something

Inevitably, your gut instincts never lie.

If you deeply suspect it’s time to move a loved one into memory care, it’s undoubtedly true. Honor that feeling with a consultation at memory care centers near you, and your wise intuition will lead you to the best path forward.

Be Proactive, Learn More About Memory Care Before Your Loved One Needs It

Spouses and family members often find themselves at a loss once a tipping point is reached when, quite often, accidental injuries, malnutrition and diminished quality of life force everyone’s hand.

Don’t wait until your loved one is getting worse, or you and your family members are mentally and physically exhausted. Understand the signs and symptoms of cognitive decline. Be aware of your loved one’s health and well-being. Start your research on memory care now, before they need it.

You may also be interested in these related memory care posts:



Can You Recover From Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

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alz care richmond va
Some medications can produce dementia-like symptoms.

Finding out a loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is scary.  One of the first questions people ask is if there is a cure or a way to recover.


Alzheimer’s and Medications

While certain medications can help slow the progression for a time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia. Alzheimer’s disease leads to cell death and tissue loss in the brain which ultimately affects memory, behavior, bodily functions or other systems.  It is a progressive disease that eventually leaves the person unable to safely care for themselves.

Alzheimer’s Treatments

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, research shows treatments and activities that stimulate the senses may improve behavior and mood, including decreased agitation.  Activities such as art, singing or listening to music fight boredom and may help trigger past memories.

At The Memory Center, our daily activities are designed to inspire purpose, validate actions and invigorate while providing the highest quality of life for residents.  Functional and fun are key components of our activities.

Our multi-sensory activities program increases communication, socialization, physical movement and motor abilities.

Some Health Problems May Mimic Alzheimer’s Symptoms

If you, or a family member, are exhibiting memory problems the first step is to talk to a doctor.

Not all memory loss is related to Alzheimer’s or dementia.  There are other reasons you might experience memory problems including thyroid issues, stress, vitamin deficiencies or certain medications.  In these instances, once the cause is identified, your doctor can provide a course of treatment to manage, or even reverse, the symptoms.

Learn More About Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Communities

Read more about how Alzheimer’s affects the brain or contact us for information about programs at The Memory Center in Virginia Beach, Midlothian/Richmond, and Atlanta. 

Tour One of Our Memory Centers Today

How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities

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Millions of Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and as more of the population reaches age 65 and above, instances of the disease continue to rise.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and behavioral changes eventually leaving the person unable to safely care for themselves.  In the early stages many spouses and family members prefer to care for their loved one at home, but as the demands of the disease increase residential often becomes necessary.

Family members want the best for their loved one and comparing assisted living facilities is a big task.  There are so many factors to consider such as cost, location, reviews, or even how long the waiting list is. 

Below are some of our tips for getting the most out of touring and comparing potential facilities.

Memory Care Cost

The cost of living in a memory care facility depends on several factors including private vs. semi-private room, level of care needed, medical supplies and more.

There is not one specific price for memory care however, compiled the average cost of memory care and reported the median cost in Virginia was $4,100 per month.  Some facilities may cost less and some will cost more and it is very important to find out exactly what the monthly cost includes.  What is included at one facility might be an extra charge at another.

What is Included in the Cost?assisted living costs virginia

When touring residential facilities find out exactly what is included in the monthly cost. These costs vary from one facility to the other so knowing what is, or isn’t, included will help you accurately compare and avoid surprises later.  Ask for a detailed list of everything that is included, and what extra charges you could reasonably expect.

The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach and Midlothian/Richmond offer an all-inclusive rate so families know exactly what to expect without surprises to their budget. Our memory care pricing includes:

  • Private & semi-private rooms including private bathrooms
  • Three daily meals, snacks and ice cream socials every day
  • Emergency pull cord in every room
  • Memory boxes to help stimulate meaningful memories of their life
  • Utilities to include: Cable, Telephone & Wi-Fi
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Maintenance of building and grounds
  • Outings and daily programs
  • Items from visits to the General Store

Personal Assistance

  • Highly trained staff to assist with activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
  • Medication management by our certified medication technician
  • Health monitoring by an RN nurse
  • Medical oversight by a physician trained in geriatric care
  • Full activities and Memories and Motion program designed by our Activities Director
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with a physician prescription as needed
  • Hospice/End of Life Care available

The only additional costs are incontinence supplies, salon services, long-distance telephone or transportation to an individual appointment.

Staff to Resident Ratios

This is an important question to ask of any facility you are considering, not only for daytime but during evening and overnight hours too.  The higher the ratio, the more residents each staff member is taking care of during their shift.

The Memory Center’s ratio is 4 residents to 1 staff, which gives all our staff members more time to spend with residents, provide individualized attention and respond to resident needs.

What Activities Are Provided?  Is There A Schedule?

No one wants their loved one sitting alone in a room all day bored, unattended to or left to just watch TV.  Activities are important in all types of assisted living and memory care facilities.   Ask to see the activities schedule and tour when activities are taking place so you can see them for yourself.  A sign of a good activities program is when the residents and the staff are engaged and having fun together.

If you are visiting a facility specializing in care for Alzheimer’s or dementia ask how the activities are designed to encourage motion, stimulate memories and keep boredom away.   Read about a typical day at The Memory Center Richmond and Virginia Beach.

How Is The Food?

memory care richmond
Resident Dining – The Memory Center, Richmond

Mealtimes are important, as is the quality of food.  Bland and boring food can get old very quickly and isn’t much of a motivator to get to the dining area. 

Ask to see a menu and note the entree options.  Is there a good balance of choices and is the menu nutritionally sound?  Visit the dining room and, if possible, join them for a meal and taste the food for yourself.

How Is Bathing & Personal Care Handled?

How often are residents bathed, their hair washed, what if they need help shaving? 

If you have bathing preferences for your loved one find out if they can honor them. Also, observe current residents, do they look clean and well-groomed?  Are they dressed in clothing or still in pajamas well into the afternoon? 

What Are Their Security Measures – Indoors and Out

What protocols does the facility have in place to keep residents safe indoors and out – including everyday safety like trip hazards?  Do the walking paths have uneven footing or tree roots sticking out that could cause a fall?  Are lamp cords kept close to the wall to prevent a trip hazard?  Is the space wide enough and open so residents can safely move throughout the facility?

If you are visiting a memory, or Alzheimer’s care facility ask how they manage wandering and what steps they have in place to prevent it.  These are all important questions and the person conduction your tour should be able to answer them right away.

First Impression

While it is important to ask questions and gather information, your first impression and instinct you will often make it clear when you’ve found the right facility for your loved one. 

If your first impression of an assisted living facility is that it is too dark and smells bad, it probably isn’t going to be your top pick, even if the food was good.

A bright, open community where residents are happy and engaged in appropriate activities is more likely going to be your top contender.

Tour The Memory Center

Currently, the Memory Center operates two facilities, Midlothian (near Richmond, VA), Virginia Beach and Atlanta, GA (in Johns Creek) scheduled open Spring 2017.  All our memory care communities provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

We founded the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care with a program designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community and continue to expand our communities to serve others.

Contact us for more information or to set up a tour of any of our facilities.

Memory Care Options for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

There are several options for care in Virginia.  The Memory Center communities provide care solely for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care, our program is designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

Utilizing the latest in science, nutrition, and interactive therapies, our daily structured activities provide meaningful purpose to those with memory loss.

All Memory Center communities are built around our original Town Center and Neighborhood layout and feature focused programming and daily activities.  We get to know each resident for who they are today – not who they used to be.

Find out more about our programs or what to a typical day looks like in our assisted living facilities.

Tour One of Our Memory Centers Today




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