Assisted Living Care Programming

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Senior Living and Dementia

Memory loss affects each person differently, and senior living communities can help meet your loved one’s individual needs and abilities at any stage of dementia. With trained staff and healthcare professionals, assisted living with specialized memory support can build cognitive reserve in the brain. And by joining a memory care community earlier in the diagnosis, your loved one can take part in enriching activities that help maintain cognitive function for longer.

In an engaging environment, your loved one benefits from high-quality care and specialized mental, physical and social activity programs. Regular opportunities for socialization and other outings can help reduce isolation and depression—a proven strategy for retaining cognitive abilities.

By entering a senior living community in the early stages of cognitive impairment, your loved one can spend time enjoying an engaged lifestyle while they grow familiar with their new home and care team.

Aging in place promotes successful aging and reduces stress and confusion on your loved one down the road. With that in mind, it’s important to choose a community that can support your loved one’s changing needs as dementia progresses.

Psychosocial Benefits of Assisted Living

Beyond help with daily activities, assisted living communities provide much more regular social interaction and opportunities for mental stimulation. Both are proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline as your loved one joins dance and movement classes, learns a new craft or elements of a different language, or takes part in debates and trivia exercises —just a few of the activities offered in programs like Circle of Friends®. Providing these engagement opportunities within small groups, among peers who have similar abilities, builds confidence and helps people with dementia feel more at ease, allowing them to participate more fully and frequently. Regular socialization keeps communication and critical thinking skills sharp by stimulating key parts of the brain.

Benefits of social network

A social network provides support and an outlet needed to maintain function. With a built-in network of peers and care staff, assisted living offers constant opportunities for socialization and participation in therapeutic activities. And with more ways for your loved one to engage with the world around them, they’re more likely to build cognitive reserve to improve efficiency and flexibility for processing information.

Maintaining cognitive function

Assisted living communities typically have robust programs in place for maintaining cognitive reserve.

  • Mental fitness: Regularly scheduled activities and games give your loved one the ability to frequently do something new and challenging for the brain. Staff is trained on each of the stages of dementia and can tailor programming accordingly to provide the right level of activity that challenges critical thinking, analytical thinking or memory skills.
  • Reduce stress: Being in the same environment, interacting with the same people and sticking to a set schedule can greatly reduce stress on your loved one. Chronic stress causes bodies to release hormones that eventually affect memory, and stress can also lead to poor sleep quality. By addressing the common root causes of stress in people with dementia, assisted living can make your loved one feel more at ease and confident interacting with others throughout their day.
  • Creating a sense of purpose: We all need a reason to get up in the morning. Feeling that your life has meaning and that you’re in control fosters positive attitudes and emotions. Assisted living can give your loved one a sense of purpose and help days pass more smoothly by introducing opportunities for greeting new residents, decorating or preparing for events, helping create or assemble items for community service projects or completing small chores.

Physical activity

The most essential factor to maintaining a high quality of life is physical activity, which builds bone density, improves muscle strength and reduces anxiety. When in an assisted living community, your loved one has daily access to a variety of physical activities that are well-suited to their abilities. Walking groups, gardening clubs, dance classes and tai chi are just some of the options that are commonly offered. For those with more advanced dementia, trained staff guide residents through seated exercises or walks from room to room to keep blood moving and bodies fit.

Nutrition

Menus at assisted living communities are specifically designed to offer an optimal range of nutrients to encourage blood flow to the brain and overall health. Preparing healthy, nutritious meals and helping a loved one with dementia navigate the dining experience can be time-consuming and stressful for at-home caregivers. The dining team at an assisted living community has the time, education and experience to expertly prepare appetizing meals that meet your loved one’s needs. Trained staff are on hand to guide residents through mealtimes with prompts that encourage eating and to provide assistance if your loved one needs extra support to eat successfully and stay strong.

Mild Dementia Programming

Some memory care communities will include specific programming for residents in the early stages of memory loss. When cognitive changes start, it is common for someone with dementia to withdraw and isolate themselves, but these behaviors are linked to accelerated decline in all physical and mental areas.

With therapeutic mental fitness and socialization programs, memory care staff members can help your loved one build cognitive reserve, maintain mental function and increase engagement.

Regularly engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help maintain cognitive function. Memory care programs like Whole Brain Fitness are designed to improve brain health for each resident by nurturing and engaging mind, body and spirit in ways tailored to each person’s abilities. By combining nutrition and physical exercise, mental workouts and lifelong learning, reduced environmental stress, a strong social network and a sense of purpose, programs like these can help preserve cognitive abilities and allow residents to age successfully.

Programs like Circle of Friends® are designed for residents who have experienced cognitive changes and need more support but don’t require a secured memory care environment. In this kind of environment, residents may participate in more structured activities designed to help maintain cognitive function. Activities are therapeutic, with attainable goals and conducted in a small group setting to encourage residents to stay involved, maintain function, build confidence and have happy, fulfilling days.

Secured Memory Care

Secured Memory Care

When dementia progresses to later stages where confusion, wandering and delusions are more likely, a secure memory care community can provide caregivers with added peace of mind. Secured memory care like the Memory Care Neighborhood usually features smaller, self-contained areas that are more navigable for residents, which helps foster feelings of independence while minimizing the risk of falling or getting lost. This gives residents the freedom to explore and enjoy a sense of normalcy while staying safe and close to trained staff.

Sometimes, the concept of a secure memory care community can feel strange or overwhelming to the caregiver, because to them it represents the next step in their loved one’s journey. While making the transition to secure memory care can be hard to accept, in many ways it actually gives your loved one back some of their independence, because the environment is less stressful and better suited to their cognitive function. Secure memory care is specifically designed to put your loved one at ease; it’s familiar to your loved one because it maintains the same look and feel as the rest of the care community on a much smaller scale that is more easily navigable. It has its own dining and outdoor areas, its own enrichment activities and its own community—with assistance tailored to different cognitive abilities.

Care communities that specialize in moderate-to late-stage dementia tend to feature much higher staff-to-resident ratios to ensure that residents are appropriately supervised and regularly engaged. In addition to amenities commonly included in assisted living communities—meal service, transportation, social and physical activities, housekeeping—secure memory care will generally include medication management, physical or occupational therapists on staff, licensed nurses on staff, and environmental modifications that help keep your loved one safe.

Your loved one will also likely participate in more personalized programming designed to accommodate their individual mental and physical abilities.

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