Memory care is a good idea for seniors with cognitive decline or diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, especially as the condition progresses to the point that family and friends can no longer manage to provide care in the home. Many assisted living communities have specialized memory care neighborhoods for residents with cognitive decline. The staff is trained specifically to treat issues unique to cognitive decline and provide the structure needed to keep routines as consistent as possible for their benefit.

Typically, memory care units are private or semiprivate living spaces within an assisted living community. Memory care neighborhoods usually include common areas for socialization and activities, and many also provide specialized treatment plans and approaches to care to help seniors with memory impairment enjoy their time as much as possible and minimize further cognitive decline.

What Support Does Memory Care Provide?

Memory care provides a range of support with activities of daily living and with more specialized care and therapies. Residents of memory care neighborhoods often receive assistance with bathing, dressing, medication management and meals. They also frequently have access to speech, occupational and physical therapies to help them maintain their abilities. Other therapies in memory care neighborhoods may include music therapy, art therapy, scent therapy and pet therapy to keep seniors engaged. One of the biggest benefits of memory care is that seniors are in a secure environment with low staff-to-resident ratios. The care provided is typically person-centered and coordinated with other health care providers to provide a comprehensive care plan.

Memory care services support seniors with memory loss and cognitive decline by working around the disorientation and confusion the residents often face. They provide services that may be difficult for family members to provide on their own, especially if family caregivers have their own families and jobs to attend to. Many memory care communities also offer respite care to support caregiver families by admitting seniors on a temporary basis during a vacation or busy time or when the caregivers simply need a break to avoid burnout.

When Is It Time to Consider Memory Care?

Dementia and cognitive decline symptoms tend to come and go, making it difficult to know when it’s time for memory care, but it’s never too early to start considering it. Doctors may recommend memory care placement after an appointment if red flags for Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive diseases arise. Seniors themselves tend not to mention memory issues they’ve noticed to their own doctors, and family members are encouraged to speak up if they see signs of cognitive decline. Once a doctor has been informed of potential memory impairment, they can perform cognitive evaluations for diagnosis and recommend the safest placement and care plan for seniors, including potential placement in a memory care community.

Some telltale signs a senior may need memory care support include:

  • Forgetting things more often than they used to
  • Seeming agitated, lost or confused
  • Inability to maintain a conversation or repetition of conversations
  • Inability to handle grooming tasks and looks disheveled or messy
  • Inability to manage their medications or health care plans
  • Losing weight because they forget to eat
  • Mixing people up or forgetting people
  • Leaving burners or appliances on after cooking
  • Having injuries they can’t remember receiving