Why Size Matters When Choosing the Right Memory Care Community

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If you are shopping for memory care for your loved one, the experience can seem daunting and overwhelming; and the task may appear insurmountable.

On top of researching and discovering different senior housing care and memory care options, you will find that each community you visit has a variety of characteristics that are unique to its environment. The community's representative may explain these distinguishing qualities and describe the memory care's individuality, including all the ways it is different, as well as how it specializes in the memory care arena.

Is bigger really better?

While touring, you may notice that some memory care communities are small and others are large.

I often get asked by family members which size is better for their loved one. My response? One size does not fit all, and there are several considerations to take into account.

First, it's important to think about your loved one and what his or her daily life has been like, not only recently, but also in the past.

For example, if your mom struggled financially at some point in her life, moving into a larger community that has the vibe of a hotel, cruise ship, or an opulent apartment could increase her anxiety. After the move-in, she may end up feeling that she cannot afford to live there, and may become anxious about how she is going to pay for everything. This situation can also intensify a loved one's feelings of "wanting to go home."

Second, tailoring a memory care community choice to your loved one's needs includes addressing specific individual lifestyle traits.

For example, if your husband prepared or mostly ate chef-like prepared meals, then he may experience anxiety over not having access to chef prepared meals. Did your dad spend a great deal of time traveling? If so, a larger community may feel more like home to him.

Other things to take into consideration include your loved one's journey with dementia and reaction to crowds, size of places, and his or her daily activity level. It's important to thoroughly review the overall environment and amenities the communities offer that may appeal to your loved one.

Keep in mind that some of the small residential-type memory care homes may or may not be licensed. A difference in staffing ratios may be present in a more residential setting versus a larger community.

For example, small settings sometimes have higher staff to resident ratios. In some areas, smaller residential homes may be more affordable and locally-owned and operated, a fact which may be appealing to you and your loved one. Whereas, larger communities may be part of a corporation and more set in their fees.There are different methods senior living communities use to determine rate increases.

Larger assisted living communities may appeal to family members who long to belong to a bigger entity, as opposed to a more insular community.

Size matters, so does communication

Again, it's ultimately up to you to decide on the type of community that best fits your loved one's personality and lifestyle.

Size is certainly an important consideration.

However, regardless of whether a community is small or large, families must note the interaction of the residents living there, and the communication with the professional staff members to gain valuable feedback. Through your research and discovery journey, the ability to have open discussions with the chosen community will be one of the most—if not the most—important aspect, to find while touring.

Before you move your loved one in, some simple ways to gauge how communication within the community will occur includes calling and scheduling a tour, coming back for a tour unannounced and calling on more than one occasion to ask questions. By doing this, you will learn how the staff responds to you and how well you communicate with each other.

Wishing you strength, courage, and happiness with those in their days gone by.

Deanna Lueckenotte is the author of "Alzheimer's Days Gone By: For Those Caring for Their Loved Ones." She plans to continue publishing books related to Alzheimer's and caregivers. She would also like to continue her education by obtaining her doctorate in geriatrics.

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1 Comments

Very good article for the lucky ones that can "shop" for a memory care unit. In my case, I did not had that privilege; with Medicaid is take it or leave it. My husband suffering from dementia was transferred from the Hospital to a NH/Rehabilitation Center, very far from a memory care community.