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

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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Richmond Resource Guide For Alzheimer’s Care And Support

Suspecting a loved one has Alzheimer’s is anxiety-inducing, but the official confirmation from a GP or neurologist is life changing.

From that moment on, it’s important to have current, accurate and easy-to-access information about Alzheimer’s, what to expect and the best means of supporting the well-being of both the individual diagnosed, as well as his/her team of caregivers.

While an adjustment period is understandable, we recommend taking action as quickly as you can in order to create a long-term care plan that resonates with current research and findings pertaining to Alzheimer’s care best practices.

Upon getting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you have much to explore and consider, including:

  • Diet modifications
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Memory care options
  • And more

The sooner you do this, the more involved the patient can be with making decisions that will impact the rest of his/her life.

Locate High-Quality Online Alzheimer’s Resources

There is a myriad of results when you search, “Alzheimer’s Care” or “Alzheimer’s Research,” but not all resources are created equal.

The most accurate and relevant information available online is typically provided via national organizations and well-known non-profits (usually website addresses ending with .org, .gov or .edu).

The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, the better your decision-making process. Also, you are your loved one’s greatest advocate. Well-meaning physicians, nurses, and caregivers do their best, but there’s a chance that something you’ve learned will be essential to improving your loved one’s care and overall outcomes.

Here are some of our favorite, online resources about Alzheimer’s, memory care and the latest research/findings.

The National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has several sub-entities under its umbrella; one of these is the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

The NIA has an incredibly thorough webpage that covers all manner of age-related diseases and conditions, and their page dedicated to Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias is a great place to begin learning more about Alzheimer’s and the current treatments at your own pace.

Their website has easy-to-read (and share) pages on the basics of Alzheimer’s, as well as the various forms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is important because medications, treatments, and care can vary depending on the type of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

For example, while the symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the wrong medications can worsen the patient’s experience and symptoms if it is misdiagnosed and treated using more standard Alzheimer’s treatments.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded specifically to eliminate Alzheimer’s via high-quality research.

It’s a voluntary organization and, in addition to information about Alzheimer’s as well as the latest research and upcoming trials, the AA also works to connect those affected by Alzheimer’s in the Richmond, VA area with< a href=””> the support they need.

The AA is a joint venture, including the work of healthcare professionals, caregivers, and family members just like you. To date, the Alzheimer’s Associations has provided support for millions of people nationwide.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

One of the most effective resources offered by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is their Alzheimer’s Support Hotline (866-232-8484).

This toll-free number is staffed 24/7, by licensed clinical social workers who specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. Speaking with them can feel like a lifeline, especially for those who are newly navigating the vast array of information out there, or who have yet to confide in family members and friends.

AFA is also non-profit and is dedicated to spreading the word that a proactive approach to Alzheimer’s has a significant effect on slowing down its progression and relieving or diminishing symptoms.

They also provide FREE and confidential memory screenings in Richmond and nationwide.

Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends

Often, those who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – as well as their spouses – decide to hide what they know for the time being.

The problem with this is multi-fold; first, it’s confusing for family and friends who are noticing the same signs and symptoms as you did but without any explanation or further insight.

Secondly, your family and friends are an invaluable resource as you begin to learn more about the disease and when it comes to providing certain aspects of care – as well as respite care.

We recommend reading our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, as it covers important information about the communication and decision-making processes, as well as tips on how to include family and friends.

Research Memory Care Options

As mentioned above, research shows that those with Alzheimer’s and dementia do notably better when provided with dedicated memory care.

In most circumstances, those with Alzheimer’s have the best outlook and highest quality of life when they move to memory care communities sooner, rather than later. This enables individuals time to settle in, feel comfortable, and adjust to their new home while they still have the ability to make decisions for themselves.  

Assisted Living Options

If you’re considering an assisted living facility, make sure they offer a separate wing or sections specializing in memory care so your loved one doesn’t wind up becoming part of their general residential population – the large majority of which have a different set of needs.

Use, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, as a guide to better weigh each prospects’ offerings.

Respite Care

Inevitably, the first level of care provided for those with Alzheimer’s takes place in the home via the loving attention of a spouse, family members and/or friends.

However, caregiving is an all-consuming job, and the needs of the patient will quickly deplete the energy levels and well-being of the care providers if they don’t take care of themselves.

Respite care is a must-have resource for anyone who is an immediate caregiver for a spouse or loved one with Alzheimer’s. This service is available via home care aides, adult daycare centers or memory care centers offering drop-in or short-term residential options.

Make respite care a priority from the beginning so you can take care of yourself, observe routine appointments and enjoy well-deserved breaks and traditional family vacations.

Memory Care Centers

It used to be that assisted living or nursing home options were the only resources available when the level of care required moved beyond what was possible at home.

Over the course of the past decade, however, research has shown that dedicated memory care centers – assisted living options wholly tailored to improving outcomes for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia – provide greater quality of life and improved outcomes for both patients and their families.

Furthermore, we’ve learned that transitioning into memory care communities sooner, rather than later, is beneficial for all because it decreases the high-level of stress and the lack of autonomy for the patient that transpires when families wait until they are in crisis.

By moving during the later-beginning or mid-stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient can settle in, learn their way around and create their own sense of community before the disease progresses.

Most memory care centers offer in-house doctors and nurses, licensed staff, pharmacies and innovative resources that minimize the need for off-site appointments that become agitating for residents as their condition progresses.

High-quality memory care centers adhere to Dementia Care Practices and provide ample “normal life” routines via amenities like the town center concept, which markedly improve the residents’ quality of life.

Read, Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, to learn more about what you should be looking for when choosing the right memory care for your loved one.

Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Richmond

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis requires quick action to enable you the time to research and learn about the available care and support options for your loved one.

You’ll soon find that such a progressive disease can be faced head-on, with dignity, given the right resources and support.

Learn more about memory care in Richmond


Taking Care Of Yourself & Managing Time After Being A Caregiver

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.

You may also find caregiving support in these related articles:




How to Care for Someone with Lewy Body Dementia

The diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is life changing.

After the initial shock and grief wear off, it is critical that a long-term care plan is created and put in place as soon as possible. The quality of life for both the patient, as well as loved ones and other caregivers, is directly impacted by implementing a thoughtful care plan that accommodates for the range of changes and needs that evolve over time.

There is much you can do to provide high-quality care for someone with LBD. Educating yourself, securing support and making lifestyle changes to slow progression are just a few things you can do.

Confirming a Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis

Lewy Body DementiaMany well-intentioned physicians misdiagnose Lewy Body Dementia as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s dementia because the symptoms of LBD can be similar.

However, an incorrect diagnosis can be devastating because, as Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital, and member of the LBDA Scientific Advisory Council, states:

“While the symptoms of LBD may be similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease dementia, the treatment strategy is more challenging because fewer medications can be used safely.” Dr. Hurtig adds, “I cannot overemphasize the need to avoid medications that can worsen the symptoms of LBD. Every patient with this disease and their caregivers should be familiar with the list of acceptable and forbidden drugs.”

The Lewy Body Dementia Association has a wonderful publication, Lewy Who? which includes a helpful chart describing the difference in symptoms between those with LBD and their Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease dementia counterparts.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s dementia, it’s worth reviewing these LBDA resources before starting any new medications in case LBD is the more accurate diagnosis.

Learning About Lewy Body Dementia

Education and communication are key to getting the care your loved one needs. The more you and caregivers understand about Lewy Body Dementia, the better.

In addition to the resources above, check out the LBDA, Learn About LBD page. Consider printing poignant portions of these pages for easy reference. It’s a wealth of information to digest but consider it a roadmap, helping you find your way along this complex journey.

Also, learn how effective lifestyle changes improve dementia outcomes, including:

Read Harvard U’s, Intensive LIfestyle Change: It Work… for more information.

Getting a Neurologist Referral for Lewy Body Dementia Treatment

Accurate diagnosis is key, as is early treatment action.

Seek a referral to a neurologist experienced in treating Lewy Body Dementia. There are medications known to alleviate certain LBD symptoms. There are also common antipsychotic medications that do more harm and exacerbate symptoms.

Work with an expert who’s up-to-date with the most current LBD research for optimized treatment.

Caring for Someone with Lewy Body Dementia

Caring For Someone with DementiaDuring the early stages of the disease symptoms are easier to manage. This makes it easy for loved ones to fill in the care gaps.

Although this is encouraged, these gaps and needs escalate at a more rapid pace as time elapses. As a result, caregivers often experience stress, depression, problems in their personal life and difficulty taking care of themselves. Caregiver stress is common and comes with hard-hitting consequences. Enlisting the help of care providers is a powerful step.

4 Tips for Lewy Body Dementia Care

1. Visit live-in care providers early to make an educated decision

If LBD is caught early, in-home care might make sense before the patient is transitioned to a memory care community.

Even so, schedule consultations and tours with prospective communities now. Not only does this give you time to process your decision, and learn more about what the future holds, it also provides the patient a greater sense of autonomy and choice in the matter.

2. Begin scheduling respite care opportunities

In the beginning, your life may only change a bit here and there, as you create new systems to navigate day-to-day life. However, things can snowball quickly.

Scheduling respite care opportunities allow you to remain more patient and compassionate when it’s your turn to provide care (and prevent caregiver burnout).

3. Use home care aides

If you opt to remain at home before transitioning to memory care, use a home care agency for tasks that are more challenging for you. This enables you to reserve your energy for the logistics, decisions, and emotional care required on a regular basis.

Home care aides can do the majority of the lifting, bathing, errand running, housekeeping and other tasks you may not have time for anymore.

The more you enlist the help of others’ support, the better able you are to care for your loved one.

4. Create an information & resource guide

Things may seem status quo for a while, but they can shift suddenly.

In order to ensure your loved one receives the care he or she needs, it’s important to be prepared and organized. Keep an emergency information packet on hand that includes:

  • An easy-to-read sheet, briefly explaining LBD, as well as any other medical conditions, for EMTs and/or care providers
  • A list of all of the current medications/dosages and contraindications, updated regularly
  • Copies of medical insurance cards
  • Copies of health care advance directives
  • Important contact information for neurologist/primary care providers, family, friends, neighbors, etc.

Planning for the Future with Lewy Body Dementia

Caring for someone with Lewy Body Dementia requires a balanced approach.

On one hand, it’s essential to plan for the future; on the other, it’s important to be present in the moment and take things day-by-day. Depending on your loved one’s symptoms and disposition, it’s critical to be flexible in terms of routine because things can change suddenly.

For example, those caring for someone with LBD find things go best when life moves at a slower pace, with fewer expectations and more flexible schedules. Things like art, music, gardening and sharing favorite foods may take precedence over other, more distracting activities.

Transitioning to Memory Care for Lewy Body Dementia

The temptation to put off the transition to a memory care center is understandable.

However, changes in routine and major transitions become more stressful as time goes on. Studies show that moving those in mid to later stages of dementia exacerbates their condition, compared to those who moved earlier and had more time to adjust to their new environment before dementia progressed.

Having a difficult time selecting the right memory care center for your loved one? Use this Checklist of Questions To Ask… to guide your decision.

How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities

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


My Spouse Has Dementia and Follows Me Everywhere

When someone has Alzheimer’s the world no longer makes sense to them the way it used to. They come to rely on their primary caregiver, often a spouse, as the person who keeps them safe and guides them through their every day.

It isn’t uncommon for someone with memory loss to become anxious when they can’t see their caregiver spouse.  They may be afraid of what might happen if you aren’t there to help them, or even afraid you will leave them. This fear often leads to what is referred to as shadowing – meaning they become your shadow trying to follow you everywhere, even to the bathroom or stand by your side as you wash dishes.  And while they aren’t trying to bother you, it can be exhausting and difficult to get a break.

How are you supposed to get any rest or relief if someone is following you around all the time?

It is important to take time for yourself.  Even if your spouse doesn’t agree or protests.

dementia care midlothian va
It is OK to ask someone to care for your spouse while you take a break.

There is a tremendous amount of stress on primary caregivers, and if you don’t take time to shower, rest, socialize or even get a haircut, it is easy to become burned out.

Recruit a Trusted Helper

Don’t feel guilty about asking a trusted family member or friend to help for a few hours, or hire someone from a home health agency to help out. Yes, your spouse might seem suspicious or protest the change, but they will be alright. If you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis, the more comfortable everyone will become.

Getting a Helper has Worked for Other Families

For example, a primary caregiver we know had been taking care of her spouse with dementia. The spouse shadowed her most of the day.  Even putting away dishes became difficult as he was always getting in front of her as she tried to reach the cabinets.

She hired an aide to come help two days a week with laundry, cleaning, and cooking. She hadn’t planned on leaving her spouse alone with the aide, she just knew she needed help.

After a few weeks, the wife realized she enjoyed having the aide there not only for the help but also to have someone talk to. This was a pretty good sign she needed to take more time for herself and start socializing with friends again.

Even though her husband still preferred that she do everything for him, he came to recognize the aide as someone who could be trusted as well. The wife started leaving the house to run errands alone or go visit her grandchildren knowing that even if her husband protested he was in good hands.

Don’t Feel Guilty about taking Time for Yourself When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s give yourself a break. Taking some time away is ultimately good for you, and your spouse, as a rested caregiver is better than an exhausted and frustrated one.

Learn More about Caring for Someone with Dementia

Get more caregiver tips from The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Richmond. Our communities are dedicated to providing the best care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We also offer a wide range of information and events to help educate those serving as primary caregivers at home.

Contact us for more information about our communities.

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Do People With Dementia Know Something Is Wrong With Them?

Alzheimer’s disease progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages of dementia, many do recognize something is wrong, but not everyone is aware. They may know they are supposed to recognize you, but they can’t.

Maybe during a recent visit to your aunt’s house she insisted you help her find her winter gloves and boots – in the middle of July. Maybe she didn’t remember your name at all or thought you were someone else from the family.

These types of scenarios aren’t uncommon, and many people wonder if their loved one knows something is wrong with them. What if they don’t understand – should you try and convince them?

Do They Know They Have Alzheimer’s?

Seeing a loved one develop Alzheimer’s or dementia can be scary and confusing. Their behaviors can be misunderstood or not make sense to you. Red Johnson, an 86 year-old living with Alzheimer’s, explained to his daughter, Nancy, how it feels to live with the disease.

I love my family. My daughter-in-law and son-in-law; my grandchildren and great-grandchildren; my in-laws; and my nieces and nephews. I might not remember their names. I might be tongue tied when I try to talk with them. But, I still love them. Do you know how dumb it feels when you “know” the person talking with you is an old friend and you can’t remember their name? I know something is wrong with me, and I hate it. Don’t look “through me” just because I can’t remember your name or am mixed up about what day it is. Don’t ignore my needs because you think it doesn’t matter. – Red

Red’s story is a great insight into how it feels to know you are suffering from memory problems and how painful it can be. Read the full story on

When Someone Doesn’t Understand Something Is Wrong

There are cases where people don’t recognize anything is wrong.  You may hear this referred to as anosognosia which is thought to be the result of cell damage in the right pre-frontal lobes and the parietal lobes.  This can happen during a stroke or as cells decline due to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Caregivers and family members may notice obvious changes in someone’s behavior, physical or mental limitations while their loved one remains adamant everything is fine. Anosognosia isn’t denial, it is a medical condition.

Caring for anyone living in cognitive decline is challenging. Caring for someone who doesn’t recognize they are ill can add to that challenge. They may refuse to take medications because they don’t think they need them, or become angry when told they can’t stay home alone or drive to the store anymore.

Convincing someone there is a problem won’t make them believe you, so try to avoid arguing.  It doesn’t help them understand the situation, and can also lead to agitation, distrust and fear – all common side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Read tips from The Memory Center on how to communicate with someone living with cognitive decline and how to keep them safe.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

According to the World Health Organization, about 50 million people worldwide have dementia and 10 million new cases are revealed every year. So by 2030 82 million people are expected to have some form of dementia. As these numbers continue to grow it is important to recognize the symptoms of dementia.

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty Performing Common Tasks
  • Confusion 
  • Problems Communicating
  • Impaired Decision Making
  • Social Withdrawl
  • Changes in Behavior
  • Depression

Day-To-Day Living With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s

Keeping a schedule is important when caring for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers.  While every day is different, a routine that is based around activities to help promote movement and inspire purpose are important.

See what a typical day At The Memory Centers in Richmond and Virginia Beach looks like and what activities we suggest you include or contact us for more information about our programs.

Learn More About A Typical Day at The Memory Center


Posted in: All News, Resources, Richmond, Virginia Beach

Taking Care of Kids and Elderly Parents at the Same Time

Taking care of your kids at home while caring for an elderly parent?  You’re a member of The Sandwich Generation, although the name sounds more appetizing than the scenario.

Adults in The Sandwich generation have children at home – or older kids maybe fresh out of the nest but still requiring support – and they also have an elderly parent who with increasing care needs. It’s a daunting and exhausting place to be – and we haven’t even mentioned the full-time workload you’re probably carrying.

We’re here to provide support.

7 Tips to Ease the Burden of Raising Kids While Caring for Elderly Parents

There is good news for The Sandwich Generation is twofold. First, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center nearly 50% of adults between the ages of 40 and 59 have a minor at home and/or an adult child they support AND have a parent 65+ who will require increasing levels of care. Just knowing you have a tribe out there can help.

Secondly, you are seen. Those of us who work in the world of senior and memory care witness first hand the burden placed upon you. We have many tips to help you take care of everyone in your family, without sacrificing the last vestiges of yourself, your energy levels and overall well-being.

Putting these 7 tips you can put into place can help ease the hardships placed on you and your family during this compressed period of time.

memory care richmond
Dining at The Memory Center, Richmond

1 – Start visiting local assisted living communities

. In the midst of crisis is one of the worst times to make big decisions. Instead, take advantage of free consultations with assisted living and memory care communities in your area. These consultations are rich with information and ideas you can put to work now while considering and developing your long-term plan. 

Visiting long term care facilities is the only way to know which one feels like the best fit for you/your parents when the time comes.  And if your parent is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, these consultations give him/her some agency regarding their future – very important during a time when seniors often feel like they’re losing autonomy.

2 – Make the home safe and accessible

There are plenty of articles out there on how to remodel a home and make it accessible, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated.  With even simple changes and adjustments to your parent’s house and yard, you’ll notably decrease their risk of falling – and that decreases their risk of hospitalization or surgical interventions known to contribute to senior cognitive decline.

Some of the most easiest changes to making a senior’s home safer include installing motion-sensitive lighting, minimizing trip hazards (like exposed cords, edges of area rugs, uneven thresholds, etc.), installing handrails in toilet and bath/shower areas, building a ramp if needed, rearranging cupboards so everyday items are accessible without bending over or standing on a step stool, and providing an easier way to reach you when needed.

3 – Include your children in the process

. We often forget children are alert and aware of what’s happening in the household and to the ones they love. Even if you think you’re keeping the majority of the “heavy stuff” out of their world, they know and sense you are being stretched beyond your means.

However, even adult children don’t always know what to say or how to help. Similarly, children are just as worried and concerned about their grandparent(s) in their own way and may feel very helpless, which can cause younger children and teens to act out.

If nothing else, foster open communication in age-appropriate ways about what’s happening to grandma and/or grandpa, how you are feeling and about how difficult this situation is at times. The more open and communicative your family is, the more supportive and connected it can remain – even during the toughest moments. If they’re old enough, engage children in helping to provide care and companionship, if they’re young – find little things they can do to be useful. We recommend reading,’s, Helping Your Children or Grandchildren. The tips are universal for any family coping with dementia or Alzheimer’s – whether you’re sandwiched or not.

4 – Make taking care of yourself a priority

You know the airplane safety spiel about fastening your oxygen mask first, and then ensuring everyone around you has fastened theirs? Use it as a metaphor for your current life. If you think things are emotionally and financially challenging now, imagine what it would be like if you wound up succumbing to serious medical issues as a result of over stressed caregiver depletion. It happens all the time to primary caregivers and it leaves their loved ones in a major lurch.

Primary caregivers must make their well-being a priority so they remain healthy, balanced and as centered as possible through this phase of the journey. That means eating a well-balanced diet, finding ways to get a little exercise in (some days, that might  mean parking in the furthest spot to walk a little longer or taking the stairs instead of the elevator) and finding a way to clear 5- or 10-minutes of quiet-time amidst the busy-ness. Joining an Alzheimer’s support group can also provide a wealth of emotional support and bolstering.

5 – Take advantage of respite care options.

If your parent hasn’t relocated yet, contact local home care agencies to ask about their respite care services. Respite care providers give primary spouse and/or family caregivers the opportunity to focus on their regularly scheduled lives. In your case, this means more time to have dinner with the family, attend academic and extracurricular activities, go to bible study or religious events and to gain more quality time with the kids.

It can also serve as a baby step of sorts, a means of getting you and your parent accustomed to letting someone else help out with everything from companionship, driving and medication reminders, to meal preparation, bathing, dressing and toileting – all the things that may need to be taken over as your parent’s condition progresses.

tips for caregivers

6 – Imagine you’re meeting your parent for the first time

Whether a parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, suffering from the crippling grief from the loss of a spouse and/or peers, or is simply frustrated s/he can no longer do the things s/he loved – The ability to take big steps back is an amazing skill-set for children caregivers to develop.

Imagine you’re meeting your parent for the very first time. See your parent as s/he is now – while keeping your memories sacred. This will help you to find new ways to connect, explore creative ways to communicate, and establish deeper means of cultivating compassion with who they are – and what they’re capable of – in each moment.

7 – Be gentle with yourself

You’re under a tremendous pressure – not to mention emotional duress. Also, you are human. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself – and always forgive yourself in the moments you aren’t at your best.

Please visit our News Feed for more resources on Alzheimer’s and dementia care. You can also contact us to schedule a tour of The Memory Center communities in Atlanta, Richmond or Virginia Beach


How To Hug Someone With Alzheimer’s

Research has proven the human touch is powerful, and it holds true even when someone is living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

In fact, a simple hug or touch on the arm can calm someone with memory loss by decreasing stress, anxiety and promoting relaxation. We see this at The Memory Center communities every day.

As the disease progresses, some people will want to be touched more and more such as wanting to hold your hand, having their arm rubbed or giving hugs.  Even though the individual may not remember day-to-day details, that doesn’t mean they forget emotions and the feelings associated with them.

As shown in the graphic below there are some tips to hugging someone with Alzheimer’s to avoid frightening them and to accurately convey the emotion. 

memory care midlothian vaWhile touch is very powerful and can greatly benefit people living with Alzheimer’s it is still a good idea to ask them if it is all right.  Everyone is different and will have good and bad days – including some where they may not welcome a hug. 

Memory Center Atlanta Informational Seminar

The Memory Center, Atlanta invites you to a special informational seminar on Sunday, May 21st from 1pm-3pm. 

Learn more about what Memory Care means,  determining the right time to moved your loved one, what to look for in a community, pricing information, caregiver tips and more. 

memory care johns creek
Download a flyer.

The Memory Center, Atlanta is opening soon and will be area’s most comprehensive community dedicated exclusively to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Located in Johns Creek next to City Hall and Emory Johns Creek Hospital at 12050 Findley Rd our community is comprised of 48 residential suites designed and constructed around our innovative Town Center concept.

Visit us and see the new standard in Memory Care.  Everyone who attends will receive a complimentary copy of “How to Care for Aging Parents” by Virginia Morris.

The Memory Center, Atlanta Information Seminar

When:  Sunday May 21st, 1pm – 3pm

Where:  The Memory Center Offsite Location: Regus Office Bldg. 11555 Medlock Bridge Rd. (next to Hyatt Place) Johns Creek, GA 30097 – Site tours of our facility will be available

RSVP: Seating at our off-site location is limited, so please RSVP to Christine Miller at (678) 456-4304 or email:





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