Within the next 20 years, the need for exceptional memory care housing options will become more necessary than ever. The AARP reports that in 2016 alone, more than 2.5 million Baby Boomers will turn 70 years old, with the youngest boomers hitting age 52. With advancing age comes an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, and recent estimates state that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease could potentially triple from the 5 million sufferers in 2013 to around 14 million by the year 2050.
Memory Care: The Past
By the year 1976, Alzheimer’s disease was officially identified as the most common cause of dementia. In 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association was founded after the National Institute on Aging saw the need for a nonprofit organization to encourage federal efforts on Alzheimer’s disease.
In most cases in the past, people living with Alzheimer’s disease would stay in a typical nursing home or assisted living community, receiving the same basic care as other residents. However, because so much more is being discovered about the disease in recent years, the way we think about caring for people with dementia is changing.
Memory Care: The Present and Future
Your senior living community, like many others across the United States, probably offers a specialized memory care wing, neighborhood, or separate housing branch. Research shows that one third of the residents in an assisted living community have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and these residents are now given more personalized memory support and care. Along with highly trained staff members who specialize in dementia, today’s senior living communities are creating innovations in therapy, housing and technology aimed at improving overall quality of life for these residents.
Some of the most recent innovations in regards to memory care include:
Alternative therapies. Music, art, and even pet therapy are often provided to residents with dementia as a way to stimulate memory, cognitive skills and communication. In addition, these therapies can help improve residents’ physical and social skills, as well as reduce their stress and ease aggressive behaviors. If you haven’t done so already, explore opportunities to incorporate alternative therapies like these, or other non-traditional forms of simulative therapy.
Dementia staging. Dementia staging refers to the ability to understand exactly what stage of the disease a person is in to help provide the correct level of care needed. This person-centered approach sees each individual as unique and focuses on what they can do, rather than what their limitations may be. The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners offers a helpful activity list organized by each stage of dementia.
Specialized technology. As our smartphone and computer technology advances, so does technology for dementia sufferers. From GPS tracking devices for those who are at risk for wandering, emergency response devices to detect warning signs of illness or a fall, to using tablets to play brain games or keep in touch with distant relatives, technology makes memory care today more efficient and streamlined.
Unique housing designs. While many senior living communities have a special area designated for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, some communities today go above and beyond providing just one floor to these residents. Intimate homes are offered that house up to 10 residents, with a staff that specializes in memory care. The Green House Project, for example, strives to create a home that nurtures a familial experience, building deep relationships between the residents, who are called elders, and the caregiving team. The residents are allowed to maintain their own personal routines and are encouraged to continue to pursue their interests.
As providing quality memory care becomes increasingly critical in the coming years, more and more senior living communities are adding these services and innovations to their overall business strategy. Does your community currently offer any (or all) of these innovations?
MatrixCare has been a proud partner with Argentum since September 2015. Our goal is to provide senior living communities with the tools and support they need to provide the highest quality of care in their memory support programming. Contact us today to learn more.