What Caregivers Should Know Before Choosing Memory Care

At some point during your loved one’s journey with dementia, he or she will require around-the-clock care in order to live safely. Generally, this occurs in a Memory Care community – a facility that’s been designed specifically to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of cognitive issues. Even if your loved one is only in the very early stages of dementia, it’s never too early to begin thinking about these types of services.

“Many people with dementia will be cared for, at least at the beginning, by an informal caregiver,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “This could be a spouse, an adult child, a dear friend or even a hired home aide. However, as the disease becomes more advanced, a caregiver can quickly become overwhelmed and stressed, which results in a poorer quality of life for both the caregiver and potentially the individual they’re caring for. ”

One of the hardest parts about caregiving, says Andrea, is that the role becomes all-encompassing to the point of pushing aside the roles of ‘spouse’ or ‘child.’ “We talk a lot about the benefits of Memory Care in terms of how it improves safety and reduces stress, but one of the biggest benefits of Memory Care is that it gives people the ability to rekindle their relationship with their loved one,” Andrea says. “At The Reutlinger Community, we’ve seen how caregiving spouses are able to go back to being simply a husband or wife – which helps both parties tremendously in so many ways.”

Being proactive about choosing memory care for your loved one will help caregivers avoid burnout and provide the best possible assistance for the individual with dementia. “Before you choose a Memory Care option, you’ll want to put together a list of questions and get some information about the services being offered,” says Andrea. “Being informed will give you the tools you need to find the right home for both you and your loved one with dementia.”

Where should care take place?

 Memory Care services and communities come in all shapes and sizes, and also provide a range of different services. While some Memory Care communities are standalone communities that only provide care for those with dementia and memory issues, others are separate wings attached to a larger Assisted Living community.

Depending on your loved one’s current situation, says Andrea, one of these choices may be better for him or her than another. “For example, if you’re a caregiving spouse, you may want to move you and your partner into a more comprehensive community that offers Independent Living or Assisted Living in conjunction with Memory Care,” she says. This is particularly helpful if you have your own health problems and need assistance yourself, or if your loved one is in the earlier stages of dementia.

“However, if your loved one is in the later stages of dementia, and you are capable of living on your own, you may wish to move your loved one into a standalone memory care community,” she says. “It all depends on your individual needs, financial situation and also what options are available in your area.”

Will my loved one receive proper care?

 Oftentimes, caregivers feel guilty moving a loved one into memory care because they worry about him or her not getting the care they need. Andrea wishes to put caregivers’ minds at ease on this particular point.

“Memory Care communities are staffed with professional, empathetic individuals who have received knowledge and training specific to caring for individuals with cognitive issues,” she says. “Residents will be cared for by a dedicated team of staff members, who help form relationships and become familiar faces.”

Best of all, she says, there is assistance available 24/7, no matter what. “Having multiple caregivers means that help is never far away,” she says. “Plus, since the community is designed to meet the needs of those with dementia, it is incredibly safe, easy to navigate and free of hazards that might be in a family home.”

What questions should I ask?

Andrea says it’s important to search for Memory Care communities and create a list of a few top choices. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, she suggests touring each one and taking a comprehensive list of questions with you. “By visiting the communities, you can get a feel that’s impossible to get over the phone or through pictures, and having a standard list of questions will allow you to compare one community to the other more easily,” she says.

Here are some suggested questions for your list. You will want to add or subtract questions, depending on your individual situation and what is important to you:

  • What level and types of care does the community provide?
  • What sort of training has the staff received? Is ongoing training part of their objectives?
  • What is the monthly rate for the community? What services are included in that rate? What services and options would be an additional cost?
  • What sort of floor plans are available, and how are they priced?
  • How are care plans developed, and how often are they reviewed to ensure my loved one is receiving optimal care?
  • What are your policies regarding visitors?
  • How are medical emergencies handled?
  • What sort of meals are provided, and are special dietary requirements or preferences able to be accommodated?
  • Is laundry service and housekeeping provided? How often?
  • What sort of programs are available to residents? Is there a full range of physical, mental and social activities to help them live a full, engaged life?
  • How does the community handle undesirable behaviors like aggressiveness, wandering or other dementia-related symptoms?
  • How does the community communicate with family members?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents during the day? During the night?

The most important thing for caregivers to know, says Andrea, that moving a loved one to Memory Care is one of the most selfless and kind things you can do as a caregiver.

“I’ve spoken to many caregivers who feel like they’re ‘giving up’ or are guilty about moving a senior adult into Memory Care,” she says. “I try to make sure they know that they are actually doing the best thing possible for their loved one. Moving to a Memory Care community like The Reutlinger Community provides the best possible care in the safest environment with highly trained, caring staff members. It allows your loved one to get the care he or she needs…and gives you peace of mind and the ability to nurture your relationship with them throughout this journey.”

For more information about choosing Memory Care for your loved one, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.