Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

What to Look for When Finding Memory Care Units

What is a Memory Care Unit?

Think of it as a unique form of nursing care that works specifically with Dementia patients and those afflicted with other common memory issues like Alzheimer’s. At a memory care unit patients receive round-the-clock treatment, care, and daily planning to ensure an easy and dignified life.

Finding a Memory Care Unit

If you plan on visiting your elderly regularly, then location is going to be a huge factor. Are you looking for memory care in Las Vegas? Are you fine with expanding your search to cities other than the one where you currently live? Narrow your search down to the targeted geographic area and accordingly carry your search. Contact multiple facilities and schedule tours. Googling memory care facilities for seniors near me should provide you with a relevant list of options to sort through.

Visit the Facility and Interview Residents

During the tour of the facility, be sure to visit the halls and the rooms. Stay for lunch to explore the menu. Observe how residents interact and go about their life. Do they seem happy and content? Meet with residents and ask them a question or two. Prepare a list of relevant questions to ask the caregivers. It’s better if you can get in touch with the family of another resident to get a more legitimate review.

Asking the right questions can help you determine the quality and cost of care. To evaluate the quality of care, ask the following questions –

  • What sort of training did the caregivers go through?
  • What’s the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • How many of them are present during each shift?
  • How does the staff handle difficult patients showing stubbornness?
  • What happens in case the person fails to adapt to the new atmosphere?
  • Is hospice service available?
  • What’s the food like? Does it take into account special dietary needs?
  • What’s the action plan in case of medical or non-medical emergencies?

Determining The Cost of Memory Care:

  • Ask about the basic monthly fee. Memory care in South Carolina will cost different from memory care in Florida. Be sure to know what the average costs are and how competitively priced the facility you are considering is as compared to the state-wide average.
  • What are the rates for different levels of care?
  • Can the monthly fee change?
  • Would there be an entry deposit or fee?
  • Are there long-term care policies in place?
  • Are there any hidden expenses or charges not discussed in the initial plan?

Amenities and Features Available at A Memory Care Unit


You can expect a whole range of amenities from memory care communities. Meals are catered to special dietary restrictions, concierge services, and care coordination services. It’s good to talk with your loved ones about their interests and needs and see if those features are available.

  • What’s the type of accommodations available? It can vary from shared apartments to care cottages.
  • Does the facility offer 3 square meals a day?
  • Are there snacks?
  • Do patients get help with meal escorting in case they are physically incapable?
  • What are wellness and fitness programs like?

How Nutritious are Meals?

Nutrition is a key aspect of managing dementia and other memory issues, from a clinical perspective. There’s more to nutrition than just counting calories. Dining is a way for people to connect. So, check out the menu to look for food variety. Are there both comfort and nutritional foods for residents to choose from? Also, memory care homes in Maine will have different menus than memory care facilities in Texas for example. Expect to see more seafood in coastal cities and towns.

Furthermore, make sure there are plans for residents who have trouble handling silverware. They may need assistance with feeding. For such residents, finger foods are a more dignified way of dining and maintaining their independence.

Enrichment Activities and Memory-enhancing Programs

A large portion of dementia care is about offering engaging and purpose activities planned and managed by staff. The activities can happen both day and night. Ask for access to the community program calendar to get an idea of activities for your loved one’s enjoyment. See if there are outing opportunities and safely-planned excursion tours for residents to explore the outside world.

Ideally, there should be programs and activities planned for both days and weekends. This should allow the residents to keep busy while also receiving therapeutic benefits.

Are the Staff Members Trained to Care for Dementia Patients?

The heart of any memory care unit is always the staff who cares for patients. So, be sure to ask around about their federally-mandated training/education at the state level. The staff must regularly go through training to care for Dementia patients. They must have knowledge of the latest inventions and developments in this field.

What’s the Philosophy of the Memory Care Unit?

Inquire about the dementia care unit’s philosophy on enriching people’s lives. Pay attention to the phrases and words that emphasize putting the needs and preferences of residents at the forefront. Also, ask about family involvement and how often they can visit. How can family members communicate if they don’t live nearby?

Safety Features and Protocols in Place

Dementia comprises the physical safety of the patient. Therefore, safety is usually the top concern for most families getting their seniors enrolled for dementia care. Features like secured windows, keypad locked doors, and motion-sensor technology are all great ways to keep patients from falling or injuring themselves.

Having the necessary safety protocols in place is also important to prevent wandering (another common yet dangerous behavior among dementia patients).

A memory care unit should have the following safety features at all times –

  • Emergency alarm systems
  • Alarms on emergency exits
  • Keypad entry
  • Round the clock supervised care
  • Interior courtyard
  • Guarded facility to see who comes in and goes out

During the tour, be sure to ask these safety-related questions –

  • Are all the grounds and buildings secure?
  • Are courtyards enclosed with safety locks on the fences?
  • Are there slip-resistant flooring, railings around the staircase, and well-lit corridors to ensure safe movement?
  • Is it easy to ask for medical help in case of an emergency?
  • Are nurses available 24-hours? If not, what are their working hours?
  • What medical services are available?
  • How many staff members are present at night?

Additionally, look for the following features during your private room tours –

  • Automatic lights in the bedroom and bathroom
  • Low handrails and grab bars for better stability
  • No dark corners
  • Emergency call buttons

Memory Care within a Nursing Centre

Most memory care units operate independently or they work in affiliation with some assisted living facility. However, some memory care can be part of a nursing centre. There may be a separate unit where people with dementia reside. They receive special care along with standard care guidelines.

In 2014, the Joint Commission laid down rules for acquiring accreditation/requirements and certification for nursing centers to provide memory care in the United States. It’s a non-profit, independent organization. The mission of the Joint Commission is to improve public health care by evaluating health organizations and inspiring them to offer safe, effective, and highest possible quality of care.

If the elderly in your home need more elaborate health care other than for Dementia, then a certified nursing centre might be a better option.

Final Thoughts

When you have your priorities straight and know exactly what’s best for your ageing parents, then picking the right memory care facility should become a piece of cake.

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