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5 Questions to Ask to Find the Best Memory Care Community for Your Loved One

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

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When a loved one has dementia, finding the right memory care community can be a challenge. The key to finding the perfect memory care community for your loved one can often rest on knowing the right questions to ask upfront. Before you begin your search, compile a list of questions to take with you so that you remember to ask all properties you visit the same questions.  Here are a few questions to start your list...

5 questions to ask to help you find the best memory care community

Question #1: What is the community’s approach to memory care?

Thankfully, today’s memory care is not a place to “put” people with dementia.  These communities are welcoming homes where residents can live as independently as possible while they receive expert care in a safe and secure environment. Thus, one of the first memory care questions to ask should be about the community’s approach to memory care.

At The Birches, the only certified Montessori community in Illinois, we embrace the Montessori Inspired Lifestyle that acknowledges limitations but focuses on strengths and abilities so each resident gets the care and support they need to live a fulfilling life with purpose and dignity. In addition, we also communicate often and openly with our members’ families, we welcome feedback via our app or confidential suggestion box, and always encourage and welcome visitors.

Question #2: What types of life enrichment activities are available?

People with dementia benefit from a full but structured lifestyle so another of the important memory care questions to ask pertains to the types of life enrichment programs offered. To best engage our members, at The Birches we employ “Purposeful Programming” that spans the physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of their lives. As noted in our blog, “Montessori Activities for Dementia,” these programs help to enhance cognition as well as physical health through exercise, art, music, puzzles, games and more.

Question #3: Is independence emphasized?

One of the greatest fears seniors have is the loss of independence - and this includes seniors with dementia. But dementia doesn’t automatically preclude independence so another one of the essential memory care questions to ask concerns how the community helps members remain as independent as possible.

To best prioritize independent living in memory care at The Birches, we recognize that every member has unique skills, experiences and interests and we strive to include those in their daily life enrichment activities within a structured and consistent routine. As described in our blog, “Benefits of Memory Care - Helping Individuals with Dementia Maintain Independence,” this can include hands-on projects, social interaction, different therapies (e.g. art, music, etc.), and other person-focused pursuits that offer a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

Question #4: Are the apartments appropriate for seniors with dementia?

All memory care apartments are not created specifically for people with dementia.  That is why it is important to include apartment design and functionality among the memory care questions to ask. Most memory care apartments have accessibility aspects such as walk-in showers, grab bars and wearable safety devices but these may not meet the true needs of all occupants.

As with everything we do in memory care, the apartments at The Birches are designed for seniors with dementia and offer a range of important features like easy-to-reach light switches, outlets and thermostats, raised toilets, wheelchair accessibility throughout, and low-pile carpeting for easy mobility. Members are encouraged to bring their familiar furnishings and decor so they may transition sooner to feeling right at home.

Another of the memory care questions to ask regards personal safety and security. At The Birches we set the bar high with our sophisticated Vigil Memory Care System which uses passive sensors connected to software to monitor the safety and security of each member within their home and throughout the community.

Question #5: How is nutrition managed?

A big problem many families encounter when caring for a loved one with dementia is nutrition. Many seniors with dementia forget to eat, lose their appetite or just don’t want to eat anymore. For those reasons, another of the key memory care questions to ask is about how daily nutrition is managed.

At The Birches we know all the problems associated with dementia and eating well.  That is why we go the extra mile to make dining simple and easy for our memory care members. For example, rather than using written menus, we show members sample plates so they can have each meal created to their specific preferences. In addition, our servers can also refer to a member’s photo reference card for their likes, dislikes, allergies, and special dietary needs. As part of our person-centered dining service, we can also serve meals whenever a member is hungry rather than at preset mealtimes. Healthy snacks and beverages are encouraged throughout the day.

These are just a few questions for your list. Take some time to think about what else would be important for you, your family, and your loved one to know about each community. Be sure to note your overall impressions and feelings after each visit and if there was anything that was a particular standout to you during the visit.

Interested in The Birches’ memory care for a loved one? Contact us to learn more and to schedule a tour of our memory care community.

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