3 Memory Care Myths and Misconceptions

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When Talin Ganemian sits down with families at The Arbors at Westfield to talk about the Reflections Memory Program, she spends a lot of time talking about what memory care is not.

“Families are worried memory care means, ‘This is the end,’” Ganemian says. “They’re worried their loved one will be in a locked unit, that they will be ignored or mistreated, or, even worse, that their loved one will be overmedicated.”

In reality, memory care is just the opposite of that.

The Truth About Memory Care

Memory care communities are housed within assisted living communities and offer 24/7 care from professional staff members with specialized training for the care of those suffering from dementia and other cognitive impairments, including memory loss.

“The right memory care community will make a huge difference in the families lives as well as the resident,” she says.

Carrie Wilson, director of the Reflections Memory Program at the Ivy at Ellington, hears similar concerns from the families she works with.

“One of the biggest issues affecting our current senior population is the idea they have about ‘going to a home’ — the convalescent homes they saw their grandparents and parents in where poor care and sedating meds were the norm,” Wilson says. “The assisted living and memory care of today did not exist back then, so fighting that old stigma is still a real issue today for seniors of the World War II generation.”

Myths and Misconceptions

Here’s a closer look at three common myths and misconceptions about memory care.

Myth: Memory care strips seniors with dementia of their remaining independence.

Reality: “The entire environment and program of memory care is specifically geared toward keeping a senior with memory impairment or dementia as independent and successful as possible while living a social, fun, happy life day in and day out,” Wilson says.

Seniors still have their own space, just without any of the hassles. In fact, living in a memory care community is similar to having a private apartment, but seniors — and their families — can rest easy knowing that trained staff is on hand to help when necessary.

“A lot of people think of a secured memory care unit as, ‘My loved one is going to be stuck there,’” says Kimberly Stout, The Arbors at Dracut’s Reflections Memory Program director. “That’s not the truth. We leave memory care at least once a day. Whether it’s for walking club, social hour with assisted living residents, or a bus tour, we make it a point to.”

Myth: My loved one will sit in front of a TV all day.

Reality: Engagement in meaningful activities is one of the critical elements of good dementia care. Most memory care communities provide leisure and therapeutic programs that provide residents the opportunity to not only maintain and enhance their sense of dignity and self-esteem but also improve memory impairment issues, wandering frequency, and other common behavioral issues.

“A failure-free approach to memory care emphasizes assets rather than deficits,” Stout says. “For example, when we play the game Trouble, a resident might move the piece backward instead of forward, and we’re not going to correct it. They’re making an effort and as long as they’re engaged, to us, that’s a success.”

“If you go to a memory care community that doesn’t use the failure-free approach,” she continues, “you’ll probably see more sleeping residents, wandering residents, residents trying to go home. You won’t have an engaged group.”

 Myth: Memory care facilities sedate residents.

Reality: Memory care communities use a variety of holistic health care approaches to support residents before they turn to medication, from aromatherapy to massage. Some memory living communities even have something called a Snoezelen Room, a multisensory environment designed to help reduce agitation and anxiety as well as engage and delight the user, stimulate reactions, and encourage communication.

“It’s a nonpharmacological approach to help them relax and feel not agitated, to feel safe and secure, and to feel relaxed,” Wilson says.

The Best Place to Be

When you start to feel like you need outside assistance, memory care communities are wonderful environments where seniors can lead meaningful and enjoyable lives — and you can experience peace of mind.

“Oftentimes, adult children are more aware of assisted living but still wary of memory care,” Wilson says. “In reality, memory care in certain communities is the best place to be. They have excellent care and staffing and cutting-edge training and activities — all geared to help the resident live the best life they can every single day.”

Deciding which memory care community is the best option for your loved one can be very difficult, but this process is all about making life for your loved one as enjoyable as possible. For more information about how family caregivers can make sure a memory care community is the right fit for their loved one with dementia, download our eBook What to Look for in a Memory Care Community.

 

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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