Donna Hurley Fresno
Donna Hurley Fresno

The Role of Memory Care Communities – Providing Support for Seniors with Cognitive Impairment

Grandad used to be sharp as a whip. As the years pass, he loses steam and his cognitive abilities. One day, he doesn’t recall if he ate breakfast or took his medication.

Every year, nearly 10 million people are newly diagnosed with dementia. With varying levels of impairment, dementia affects every individual uniquely, creating a new reality for them and their families. Fortunately, Donna Hurley of Fresno reports that memory care communities provide a supportive environment to help seniors successfully adapt to cognitive impairments.

Memory Care Communities Explained

Memory care communities are long-term residential settings that provide specialized care for people with memory issues. These communities have enhanced security and safety measures to ensure the well-being of each resident. They are often part of assisted living communities, nursing homes, or stand-alone facilities.

Adults who are appropriate for a memory care unit may have:

  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): memory and cognitive issues that are abnormally severe for a person’s age yet not as severe as dementia
  • Cognitive deficits due to traumatic brain injury
  • Age-related cognitive disorders
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Some communities encourage independent living with limited daily assistance, like help with medication management. Others are intensely adapted for progressed illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, including locked doors and specialized 24/7 medical staff.

Those with mild memory issues may remain in their homes and have staff come in to assist with activities of daily living or they may go to an out-patient location, such as a day center; assistance within a personal residence does not make one’s home a memory care unit.

Types of Memory Care

While many facilities are long-term residences, memory care includes other components. They may offer:

  • Adult day center/care allows members the opportunity to be social and participate in activities in a safe environment while their primary caretaker goes to work or attends to personal tasks.
  • Respite care provides caregivers with a temporary rest from caregiving while the memory-impaired senior continues to receive treatment in a safe environment.
  • Hospice care is often incorporated into long-term memory care communities to provide comfort and dignity at the end of life. This service provides support to those in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as to their loved ones.
Donna Hurley Fresno

Specialized Support

The severity of one’s memory issues will determine the level of support they need within a memory care unit or program. Specialized programs and services offer all types of services, from meal assistance to transportation. Staff are specially trained in dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders to provide safe, comforting, and productive environments for residents.
Some of these programs may offer:

  • Housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Medication management
  • Helps with activities of daily living (ADLs), like dressing and bathing
  • Monitoring for safe and secure indoor/outdoor environments
  • Nursing services and health screenings
  • Fitness programs
  • Coordination with family regarding care preferences

Final Thoughts

When a loved one begins to struggle with their recall and recollection, a plan of action is needed to ensure their safety and health. After a medical evaluation, speak with the individual, their primary physician, and any other involved relatives to determine if a memory care program may be helpful for your loved one.