Five Questions You Must Ask Every Memory Care Community

Deciding on the right time to get memory care support for your loved one can be an emotional journey. Most families reach a point when caring for someone with dementia becomes difficult to manage, and sometimes staying in a home environment is unsafe.

Dementia is a progressive brain disease. As the disease progresses, more assistance with activities of daily living may  be needed as well as support with managing a variety of difficult symptoms and behaviors.

Fortunately, memory care communities provide the kind of specialized care that people with memory challenges need. Yet not all memory care communities in Florida are the same.

Caregiver Priorities for Memory Care

Alzheimer’s and dementia care are complex. As you consider your options, there are literally dozens of questions you can ask to ensure your loved one gets the best care possible. But many feel overwhelmed and uncertain how to navigate the choices and make the right decision.

If you are like most of us, your top concerns are the care, safety and well-being of your loved one. These key concerns are directly impacted by the training, safety technology, activities, and dining programs in memory care facilities.

Before moving to memory care, make sure the community meets your expectations in these areas:

  • Training
  • Care
  • Safety Technology
  • Activities
  • Dining Programs

The Top Five Questions Caregivers Should Ask

The experts recommend asking these five key questions on your tour before deciding on a memory care community:

1. What Dementia Training Does Your Staff Have?

Before choosing a memory care community, you should be sure the caregivers and aides have been specially trained in dementia care.

In memory care facilities, there are likely to be residents in different stages of dementia, each with very different symptoms and needs. Caregiver training can make all the difference in both quality of life and quality of care.

Your loved one is an individual with personal preferences and needs. For this reason, some communities provide specialized training for dementia caregivers as well as certification in person-directed care.

Person-directed care is a highly personalized form of dementia care that treats the person rather than the disease. For example, at Serenades Memory Care, caregivers tailor care to the person according to Teepa Snow’s GEMS® State Model of care. This unique approach treats a person with dementia as precious and unique with distinctive characteristics like gemstones.

Compared to those who undergo the minimum required Florida dementia care training, the dementia-certified caregivers are Serenades Memory Care communities are specially trained to ensure every resident receives the highest level of care based on which “GEM state” they are in the course of the disease.

2. What is Your Approach to Care?

You know your loved one best, and you should be intimately involved in their care planning. Dementia care staff should be trained in how dementia affects cognition, communication, and emotion. Understanding your loved one’s individual abilities is critical to the care plan.

Many memory care facilities use a specialized care approach designed specifically for people with dementia symptoms. For example, caregivers at Serenades Memory Care use Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care®.This renowned philosophy of care:

  • Encourages family members to be partners in their loved one’s care.
  • Uses specific techniques that encourage resident participation in daily life.
  • Celebrates the individuality and uniqueness of each person.
  • Provides a comprehensive understanding of dementia’s effects on the brain and behaviors.
  • Teaches caregivers effective management techniques for challenging behaviors and stress triggers.

Don’t forget to ask this important question: how often are your care plans reviewed and updated? Ideally, a care plan review should occur monthly or as often as necessary since needs will evolve based on the progressive nature of brain disease.

Finally, make sure care at the memory care community includes 24-hour nursing supervision.

Learn more about the building blocks of person-directed care.

3. What Features Does The Community Have to Keep My Loved One Safe?

No one knows better than you how important safety is when a loved one has dementia. Symptoms such as wandering, confusion, memory loss, impaired cognition and mobility all increase the risk of injury or illness.

Be sure to ask for a list of safety features to ensure your loved one is supervised and safe around-the-clock.

You should expect the following safety features in a memory care community:

  • Advanced security systems and secure entrances and exits to keep your loved one from accidentally wandering outside.
  • Special building materials such as anti-skid flooring and zero-entry showers to prevent falls.
  • Wireless emergency call systemintegrated with phones, fire, motion sensors, door and window contacts.
  • Motion sensorssuch as secured window openings, roam alert and incontinence sensors.
  • Regulated water temperatures, anti-scald fixtures and appliances to prevent injuries.
  • Touchless activation of doorways and electrostatic spray disinfection to enhance sanitation.
  • Wearable smart devicesto permit independent and unrestricted access to apartments and outdoor venues.

For the ultimate peace of mind, Serenades Memory Care communities feature enhanced safety technology such as emergency pendants with built-in GPS capabilities and motion sensors to keep caregivers informed of a resident’s location at all times. Next-level technology innovations are offered in some Serenades communities, including artificial intelligence (AI) predictive emergency call systems that not only prevent incidents, but predict them.

After all, the goal is to integrate unobtrusive safety features while permitting greater freedom and independence to provide a better quality of life for those with dementia.

4. What Activities are Available for Residents of the Memory Care Community?

Activities are a significant aspect of dementia care and can be used to minimize and manage unwanted symptoms and behaviors. Yet memory care residents have many different levels of cognitive function and not every activity will work for everyone. Ideally, activities will be customized to the abilities of the individual.

Activities that promote a healthier lifestyle are the foundation of excellent dementia care and keep people with memory challenges engaged, stimulated, calm, and happy. Many people with dementia become restless later in the day due to sundowning and activities help prevent boredom and restlessness.

Ideally, activities in memory care should:

  • Incorporate exercise to improve mood and strength while reducing anxiety and agitation.
  • Encourage use of retained abilities to promote self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Incorporate music whenever possible to ease the symptoms of agitation, anxiety, and frustration.
  • Assign “chores” or helpful activities such as folding laundry to provide a sense of purpose.
  • Incorporate simple games to relieve stress but avoid structured games that may cause frustration.
  • Incorporate social activities to encourage positive interaction with others.

Memory care communities should be able to find activities that your loved one can do without getting overwhelmed or too challenged. If your loved one is someone who gets anxious in groups or has difficulty concentrating, ask about individualized activity opportunities.

According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that music in particular can have a beneficial effect on people with dementia. A music and memory program should be an integral part of memory care activity planning.

5. What Meals and Snacks Are Provided Memory Care Residents?

A healthy diet for people with dementia has been shown to have positive emotional, physical, and cognitive effects. Yet, your loved one’s dietary preferences and needs will likely change over the course of the disease.

Eating and drinking can be a challenge for people with dementia. Plus, people with dementia often desire to eat at odd times of day and night. They may want snacks throughout the day or need reminders to drink water. Some people with dementia also develop difficulties swallowing and require modified diets and supervision.

A memory care community should offer a modified dietary program for residents to prevent unwanted and dangerous weight loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. For example, as part of its signature Bravo Dining program, Serenades Memory Care uses the powerful sense of smell, sight, hearing, and taste to encourage eating and better nutrition in its memory care residents. Special techniques are used to trigger neuron connections in the brain and reinforce the connection between hunger and eating, including:

  • Colorful dishware and placemats to create contrast and help food stand out on the plate.
  • Smaller food portions to reduce anxiety caused by a crowded plate.
  • Frequent snacks and lots of choices to increase nutritional intake.
  • Aromatherapy such as essential oils and scented washcloths to engage the sense of smell.
  • Family-style meal prep which serve food out of pots to stimulate appetite and get the gastric juices flowing.
  • Higher calorie food choices to help maintain weight.
  • Chopped, bite-sized foods or finger foods to help with coordination challenges.
  • Soft foods options such as applesauce, cottage cheese, and yogurt to help with chewing and swallowing challenges.

Memory care communities are uniquely positioned to provide the specialized care your loved one needs along with the safety technology, engaging activities, and special dietary accommodations they need to maintain a high quality of life. Asking the right questions will help you feel confident in your choice to move to a memory care community.

Signature Programs at Serenades Memory Care

Serenades by Sonata is an award-winning memory care program unlike any other found in the state of Florida. By focusing on what remains of the memory, Serenades integrates the personal preferences and abilities of residents into daily activities to promote independence, support freedom of choice, and improve quality of life in those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Using a purpose-built model, Serenades Memory Care communities incorporate features proven to positively affect the treatment of dementia symptoms. These include beautiful, yet simplistic floor plans, color-coding, and cueing for orientation and navigation.

Signature Programs offered by Serenades Memory Care promote greater health and well-being in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia:

Learn more about dementia care with these top 5 expert tips
from Serenades Memory Care dementia certified caregivers and schedule a tour today.


Visit Serenades and find out how a person-centered approach to care has allowed us to continually raise the standard in memory care assisted living.