Memory care is a specialized form of assisted living.
In addition to the basic services of meal preparation, social activation and housekeeping and assistance with the activities of daily living - things like medication reminders, help with bathing and grooming that assisted living residents may receive, those with cognitive issues receive additional help in the form of gentle reminders and assistance to find the dining room for example.
Social activities are key in helping those with memory care issues by providing an activity and outlet for them and minimize the frustration that results from the disease.
Many with memory care issues will receive greater staff attention. That is why staffing ratios in many dedicated memory care settings is higher. Sunrise Assisted Living, for example, advertises that it has one staff to look after five to six residents.
Many of these settings are secure, to keep residents safe because they have a propensity to seek an exit.
Many have specialized environments - in their suites and amenities areas that recognize the different needs of the resident.
Suites will have memory boxes at their entrance - familiar pictures and memorabilia that help them identify their room. Inside, lights are activated when the resident has to get up during the night so they can find the bathroom, instead of becoming confused and wandering elsewhere. Colour schemes are used to set areas apart.
In amenities areas memory cues such as antiques, old pictures, dress mannequins, baby dolls and the like connect residents to things that were familiar to them in their early years. "Wandering paths" are designed to facilitate walking and miminmize "exit seeking". Secure gardens and courtyards are there for good weather.
Because of the frustrations that accompany memory loss, residents may become excited and easily confused. This is where the family can provide invaluable assistance in the care plan in identifying "trigger points" that may cause their loved to "act out", and thus allow staff to react. Special "calming" environments are provided that bring light therapy and aroma therapy to calm residents.
Technology is also beginning to play a more important role in Alzheimer care. Wander bracelets, for example, can be used to identify when a resident has entered a room other than their own. This allows resident staff to head off confrontations that may result.