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Insights into the Changing Landscape of Memory Care

Providing memory care needs is a booming market opportunity for specialized facilities. The number of adults with cognitive impairments is increasing, but the number of caregivers is decreasing, which requires more innovative solutions. While some facilities are stand-alone solutions for memory care patients, others offer care integrated into existing assisted living or nursing home facilities.

Innovative Changes

Recent changes to memory care needs include inventive settings that are vastly different than existing dementia support floors and secure units. New care settings use the latest research and understanding of cognitive impairment to provide the best possible environment and services. There will be many more options to choose from in the near future. The small house model has become increasingly popular. It’s an intimate setting within existing nursing communities consisting of 10 enclosed, secure units designed for couples facing memory challenges. A small-scale affordable housing model, partially funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is typically available to low-income seniors. Design elements include:

  • High visibility of features so patients can see the toilet from the bed, the kitchen from the living room, the activity space from the dining room, etc.
  • Discreet security measures like disguised doors to prevent exit-seeking behavior and decorative fencing to provide a secure environment.
  • Separate bedroom suites furnished with the patient’s own belongings.
  • Time-appropriate bright lighting during awake hours and dimmer lighting in the evening.
  • Accessible outdoor space to enjoy nature and walk and wander safely.

Those seniors who can afford private pay for their memory care can live in an assisted living facility designed like a neighborhood from an earlier time. Often, dementia patients readily recall memories from long ago, and these centers look like a community replete with porches, rocking chairs, carpet that mimics grass, and fiber optic ceilings that allows transitional lighting, creating a sense of the day and night sky. Other elements, like aromatherapy, calm residents or stimulate their appetite depending on the selection of oils integrated into the therapy. All these elements help reduce anger, anxiety, and depression, which are hallmarks of seniors who suffer from dementia illnesses.

Full Continuum Care with Geriatric Psychiatry

Memory care is improving to meet the increasing number of residents. Many facilities are tapping into the expertise of geriatric psychiatry. Geropsychiatry, psychogeriatrics, or psychiatry for older adults is a subspecialty of psychiatry dealing with the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in seniors. This field of study can enhance a memory care facility and improve the problems of anger, depression, and anxiety with medical components that address dementia. The techniques use a person-centered approach that fosters autonomy, develops empathy with residents, and even focuses on humor to help alleviate stress and increase quality of life.

Certified Memory Care Professionals

Professional caregivers offer specialized care to patients with dementia. Formal memory care education will become a more commonplace accreditation as the number of patients increases. Rather than a certified nursing assistant (CNA), dementia patients will be tended to more frequently by certified dementia care nursing assistants (CDNAs). This change in credentialing is driven by rising consumer expectations and tighter regulations that govern memory care.

Slowing the Progression of Dementia

Dementia is more prevalent than ever before, and so is the understanding that the disease has a long preclinical phase. Intervention and healthy lifestyle modification can delay the clinical dementia phase. Physical activity, social engagement, and brain fitness through smart devices and computer applications are excellent cognitive compensation strategies that protect executive brain function, particularly in the preclinical phase of the disease. Cutting-edge technology can also help seniors compensate for memory loss, allowing them to remain at home longer. It also enables senior facility operators to refine their services with fewer staff.

Wearable cameras with artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition capabilities can provide a patient with the name of the person approaching them. AI can also help a senior’s cognitive load, helping them stay informed regarding daily decisions. New software applications are making it easier for memory care patients to use video, audio, and sensory technologies that provide predictive analytics to caregivers to detect depression and receive alerts indicating a patient is having a bad day or at an increased risk of falling due to a change in gait.

Do you or your loved one have a plan in place in the event you become a memory care patient? Are you aware of the changing options available for living arrangements? Please contact us at 914-498-8709 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with long-term care planning. The earlier you start, the more options will be available.

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