Best Practices for Memory Care in Senior Homes

The spectre of Alzheimer’s disease is real for the elderly. After a person crosses the age of 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years [1]. Roughly 800K people live with the disease in Canada currently [1]. Unfortunately, that number is expected to rise by 66% to 937K by 2031 [2]. Other countries report similar numbers, prompting experts to predict a global health crisis in the near future.

As such, senior living communities need to adapt to this new reality. Traditional facilities may not be well equipped to care for seniors struggling with the disease. Seniors with Alzheimer’s often need specific services or features. It doesn’t mean that you have to confine them to one place or activity. It’s more important to ensure seniors can choose what works for them without being overwhelmed with information. 

If your residence caters to seniors with memory issues, the following best practices can help you provide the best care.

Properly trained staff

Presidents who suffer from a memory deficiency require a different level of care. Although common symptoms include difficulty in performing daily tasks and forgetting things, not everyone with Alzheimer’s will respond to a standard approach. It means residences may have to develop tailor-made solutions to care for seniors experiencing memory loss.

Part of that is making sure staff are able to deal appropriately with residents. Regular training is necessary to ensure all staff members know and implement best practices. Caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s requires sensitivity and patience. 

All staff members – even those who do not interact directly with memory care – should be able to respond to an incident such as a disoriented resident wandering out of the community. Residences should have proper policies and procedures for dealing with seniors experiencing memory issues. 

Safety measures

Health technology like heart rate monitors and emergency pull cords are often essential in a senior home. But when residents suffer from memory deficiencies, safety technology becomes even more important. 

For example, any senior could use reminders to take their medication on time. But an alert service can make a huge difference for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Similarly, panic buttons are a standard fixture in senior residences. But a pull cord or pendant they can wear may be more useful for seniors with memory issues.

Other life safety technologies that can help are daily presence calls to ensure well-being and health. Staff will know immediately if a resident needs medical help. Motion sensors throughout the home can help monitor physical activity. Periodic reminders to take meals and keep doctor appointments are also extremely crucial. 

Seniors experiencing memory issues frequently forget to lock the doors or turn off appliances. Sensors and voice alerts can help keep them focussed and even automatically turn off such kitchen gadgets.

Adapted spaces

Just because seniors suffer from memory deficiencies does not mean they have to be stuck in their rooms all the time. Residences should adapt living spaces to accommodate their unique needs instead. 

Just as a senior home offers units without stairs to accommodate physical issues, they can also adapt residences to deal with memory deficiencies. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease get confused and disoriented easily. Open spaces with less clutter and limiting possessions to only essential items can help with that issue. 

It doesn’t mean residents cannot display photographs of loved ones or keep other memorabilia. But it can be a good idea to reduce non-essential appliances and gadgets within the unit.

Appropriate activities

Residences can also adapt activities to better fit the needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s. For instance, creative pursuits like music and videos have been shown to have a positive impact. Fitness activities like yoga which are low impact and not strenuous can also help slow the rate of deterioration.

Residents with memory deficiencies may have issues remembering appointments and activity times. Sending alerts to their phone can help them with keeping up with a set schedule. Similarly, holding classes in main living areas that are close to their units can help reduce the risk of wandering away off the grounds. 

Senior homes can also limit the non-essential information residents receive about classes and activities. Once a resident has selected or shown a preference for some activities, they can remove other classes from their weekly schedule or newsletter. Too much information can be exhausting for most people, let alone those experiencing memory issues.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Senior homes must adapt and implement measures that take into account specific needs and requirements. It is crucial to develop a set of best practices like the ones above. Residences should also strive to continuously improve those practices to keep up with the changing landscape of senior health.




2. Alzheimer Society Canada