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IRC Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020
By: IRC Blog

Choosing a Memory Care community: stand-alone vs assisted living

If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you most likely have experienced the progressiveness of the disease. While everyone with a cognitive illness may respond differently, one constant is that the needed level of care will continue to increase.

If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you most likely have experienced the progressiveness of the disease. While everyone with a cognitive illness may respond differently, one constant is that the needed level of care will continue to increase.

At some point, it’s not uncommon for many families to discover that they’re no longer able to continue care at home - and still maintain their loved one’s quality of life. Not wanting to compromise, the search for alternatives soon begins.

How to know if your loved one needs residential care

In a perfect world, the first choice would be discussing with them whether living at home is still the best place. Don’t assume the answer would always be yes. They may feel like a burden on their family’s lives.

But of course, often these conversations aren’t possible. In that case, reflect on what kind of life you believe they would want. You can also consider what your choice would be if you were in a similar situation and they were left to make the decision.

Although Alzheimer’s can affect each person differently, there are similar characteristics that signal the illness is escalating. It might be time to consider moving your loved one into a specialized residential community if you’re beginning to see these shifts:

  1. Behavioral changes: The behaviors may be out of character and hard to reconcile. A meticulous dresser may begin refusing to bathe. They may rarely sleep at night or become so anxious and fearful that they don’t appear to have a moment’s peace. The level of agitation and frustration may increase to physical abuse. 
  2. Confusion: They may experience disorientation and no longer know where they are. They may not remember who you are or might even believe you are there to cause them harm. Wandering can begin, posing a real danger of becoming lost and unable to find their way home. Caregivers may fill their days with the challenge of keeping a loved one home and safe. 
  3. Decline in physical health: They may begin losing their ability to swallow. Failure to thrive and loss of weight can occur. You might not be able to convince them to eat and mealtimes can become a source of frustration and confusion. Walking may become difficult and incontinence can develop.
  4. Little to no socialization: You may find it so difficult to travel or take your loved one out for a visit that it becomes easier just to stay home. There may also be behaviors that make it harder to have visitors to your home. But people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers still need human contact. Self-isolating can occur out of desperation or exhaustion.
  5. Increasing caregiver stress: This is a lot for a caregiver to shoulder, even when bringing in other providers for respite is possible. As hard as it might be, it’s important that you also take care of your own health. Living in a continued state of stress can lead to physical and mental illnesses of your own.

What type of communities are available

If you’re beginning the search for residential care, you may initially find the options overwhelming or be unsure which could provide the best support for your loved one. The following is a summary of some of the choices:

Assisted living

For those living independently, these communities offer limited help, such as medication management, dining programs, assistance with tasks of daily living and a choice of on-site activities.

Long-term nursing care

Long-term care is generally for those who require oversight and assistance 24/7,  typically due to issues of frailty, physical conditions or chronic illnesses.

Stand-alone memory care

These communities solely provide memory care, with no integration with other senior living options. The environment and care is designed to support those living with a dementia diagnosis.

Memory Support Assisted Living

These communities also provide specialized treatment and support for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s but it occurs in a community that offers interaction with other levels of care.

Comparing Memory Care options

Depending on your loved one’s particular needs, you’ll likely find the best fit is with those who specialize in cognitive illnesses. Stand-alone and Memory Support Assisted Living communities both provide a staff specially trained to meet the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s. Their buildings and programs are designed specifically for this type of care.

While you may like the idea of a community-focused solely on memory care as its business, there is some discussion of the possible downside of segregating residents based on their illness.

Living as part of a bigger community, while still receiving specialized memory care and support is the other choice. It may better allow the person to continue to live a fully engaged life and not be defined by their condition.

 For families making these decisions, it’s something you may wish to consider. Although it may also come down to your personal preference or what is available in your area.

Memory Care’s most important characteristics

Regardless of whether your loved one will reside in a stand-alone or memory supported assisted living community, you’ll want to ensure your choice offers the following:

  • Staff trained specifically in the best dementia practices
  • A team that coordinates care with a person-directed approach
  • Programs that encourage engagement of memory, physical and social functions
  • A nutritious and delicious dining program
  • A welcoming and safe environment
  • Individual homes that are inviting, have plenty of natural light and allow personalization
  • Opportunities to socialize or to have privacy, when needed or wanted
  • Available ongoing education and support for the families

Ingleside at Rock Creek Memory Support Assisted Living

We take a whole-person approach to help our residents and their families feel fully empowered. Our individual care plans ensure that your loved one will be supported in ways that promote meaningful connections and experiences. 

Our highly trained team is educated on the best practices of dementia care. Our memory care is designed to offer a sense of home, as well as security and safety. We also encourage social integration with our greater Ingleside community as we understand that each of our residents is much more than a diagnosis.

Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized virtual tour today.

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