There are many reasons for a senior to move into retirement communities or assisted-living facilities. Sometimes it is the family that makes the collective decision to move a loved one. Either way, it is a gut-wrenching process for everyone. But often, there is no other option left for the older adult as they need more direct or constant care than family can provide.
Perhaps the most common cause of moving into a senior home is deteriorating physical health. This can be due to normal aging or chronic health conditions. Another common reason is memory loss or some type of memory deficiency. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other related illnesses can cause seniors to require assistance.
The Difference between Forgetfulness and Serious Memory Loss
As we grow older, it is normal to have moments of forgetfulness. Even when we were young, there are times when we forget the name of a movie or an acquaintance. Such occurrences can become more frequent for seniors. But it’s not the same as serious memory loss or the onset of dementia.
Normal forgetfulness does not affect your reasoning or decision-making ability. It will not cloud your judgment or affect the way you live. The problem begins when memory loss starts affecting your daily performance. It compromises your ability to do what you want.
Why Does Memory Loss Happen?
There are many reasons why seniors can experience memory loss to the extent that it affects their quality of life. One reason is that brain cells die faster after middle age. As seniors retire and change their habits, the connections between brain cells also deteriorate. Combined with less mental activity and blood flow to the brain, memory loss is expected.
While genetics is not a major cause for the rate of memory loss, education and working ability can influence it. Those who exercise their brain regularly are less likely to experience memory loss. For most seniors, some type of cognitive impairment is inevitable. But there are ways to mitigate and sometimes even reverse the process.
How Can Senior Homes Help with Memory Deficiencies?
A lot of senior homes are adapting and changing their facilities to help seniors memory issues. The first step in this process is recognizing that these issues require a different approach than normal. Memory care goes beyond assisted-living.
Staff Trained to Deal with Memory Loss
Research in the areas of memory loss, cognitive impairment, and mental illness is rapidly advancing. This means new techniques and approaches are needed. A senior home that aims to help with memory deficiencies need to have highly trained staff. They should have the knowledge and be equipped to care for seniors with memory issues.
Focus on Maintaining Quality of Life
The goals of assisted living and memory care programs are different. In the former, the aim is to preserve the status quo. At best, the senior home tries to slow down the deterioration or decline. But for memory care programs, the aim is to help seniors maintain their quality of life. Successful programs often help reverse the process of cognitive impairment.
Incorporate Design Features to Help Seniors
Technology and design can be used to make life easier for seniors with memory deficiencies. For instance, color-coded hallways can help older adults to navigate hallways and buildings. A secure environment can help seniors to explore their surroundings without anxiety.
Healthcare technology has also made it easier for senior homes to monitor residents. A centralized system can be used to make daily calls to everyone in the community. You can also send medication reminders, appointment reminders, and periodic notifications to your residents.
Help Seniors Stay Mentally and Physically Active
It has been shown that physical activity – especially walking – can help slow the process of memory loss . Senior homes with activity classes and gym facilities can help older adults stay active. Group classes can also motivate people to form social connections, another factor that helps memory.
Mental exercises can also help seniors with memory deficiencies. For instance, learning a new language or strategy game can help your brain form new connections. Why not stock your common living spaces with a variety of board games? It encourages your residents to play and learn new things.
Provide opportunities for your residents to learn new things. It can be something as simple as learning a new recipe or playing a musical instrument. The more engaged the mind is, the greater the benefits to memory.
When catering for seniors with memory loss, the aim is to help them stay mentally alert and independent for as long as possible. Having measurable goals and showing progress is always helpful for both the senior and their family members.