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Memory care in Alaska
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common neurological conditions diagnosed today, affecting millions of people. Along other forms of dementia, it targets senior adults, affecting their health, daily functioning, and overall quality of life. As a result, the need for assistance becomes imperative, leaving seniors with no other choice but having to consider alternative living solutions. Memory care centers have been developed to meet their needs, and there are also assisted living facilities that welcome such residents, provided they have memory care units.
Seniors who suffer from dementia benefit from specialized care within such centers, along other services and amenities. Memory care residents also receive housing and healthcare services, even though the latter might be offered to a limited extent. The staff goes at all lengths to create a safe environment for all residents, regardless of how advanced their condition might be. Special precautions are taken to minimize confusion and wandering.
The move into a memory care center is beneficial not only for the senior in question, but also on his/her family and other caregivers. It is a known fact that memory care centers have trained personnel, ready to handle any dementia-related behaviors, including agitation, disorientation or hallucinations. A person who suffers from such health issues is much safer in a specialized facility, no longer burdening others. The transition to memory care often occurs smoothly, given the expert capability of the staff.
How many memory care centers are there in Alaska? In the state of Alaska, there are only 17 memory care centers, despite the growing population of seniors suffering from dementia. There are also 17 assisted living facilities that have integrated memory care units available. Most of these senior living communities can be found in Fairbanks and Anchorage. It is worth mentioning that all of these centers welcome seniors who have been diagnosed with a form of dementia, most commonly Alzheimer's disease.
According to general provisions, the minimum acceptance age into memory care is 62. However, there are different facilities that might accept younger residents, starting with the age of 55. Early applications are encouraged, as the demand for such retirement living has increased exponentially with the higher numbers of seniors diagnosed with dementia. Aside from the age, there are other acceptance criteria to consider, including: diagnosis of dementia, level of impairment (cognitive, memory, physical, etc.), health status, level of assistance needed, co-existing conditions, financial eligibility.
Each memory care center in Alaska might decide to include additional eligibility/acceptance criteria. For instance, most memory care facilities do not accept residents who require continuous wound care, those who suffer from severe cognitive impairment or need prolonged skilled nursing care. Even though they are likely to accept those who suffer from advanced dementia, it is important for the respective senior to be able to take decision whereas their personal safety is concerned. Seniors who are mentally unstable, representing a danger to themselves or others, will not be accepted.
Either prior to admission or within 30 days from that date, residents undergo an examination, which is used to identify their needs and requirements. Aside from the health assessment, the staff will consider any impairments, how much assistance is needed with ADLs, behavior, etc. In accordance with the results of this assessment, a customized care plan is created, which will include the senior's needs and demands. Usually, plans are updated every six months or once a major health event has occurred. Revisions are necessary to ensure that the resident's needs are met at all times, without exception.
Average cost of memory care in Alaska
In the state of Alaska, the average monthly cost of memory care is around $7,500. By comparison, the national average is of $5,000, so the difference is quite significant. Compared to other states, such as Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, Alaska seems to have the highest costs for this long-term care option.
Compared to other alternative living solutions, such as in-home care, home health care, adult day care, and assisted living, memory care is more expensive. However, this option costs considerably less than nursing home care, which has an average cost of $30,000. Within the state of Alaska, the most expensive memory care centers are located in Fairbanks, with an average cost of $8,600 per month. Portland, on the other hand, has the most affordable solutions, with a monthly median of $6,200.
Dementia is best managed in memory care
The number of people who suffer from dementia is on the rise, despite the efforts researchers are making to identify an exact cause. Aside from Alzheimer's disease, seniors might also be diagnosed with other forms, including Lewy Body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. Usually, the first manifestations include forgetfulness and slight confusion about recent events. As the dementia becomes worse, such symptoms become more obvious, and are accompanied by additional issues.
Memory loss is often accompanied by concentration difficulties and the impossibility of carrying out seemingly-mundane tasks. Both the receptive and the expressive language might be affected. Some seniors have trouble taking part to a conversation, while others require long periods of time to come up with a particular word. The confusion characteristic for this condition might lead to mood changes, which can be more or less severe.
All of these changes can affect the overall quality of life, not only for the respective senior, but also for his/her family. Confusion may become a permanent thing, even when these seniors are surrounded by familiar people or they find themselves in a well-known setting. Living alone can become dangerous, so alternative living solutions are often considered. Unfortunately, life with dementia can lead to mental health changes as well, including depression and anxiety. Most seniors who suffer from advanced dementia are also withdrawn.
The decision to move into a memory care center is not easy to make, but it can make a huge difference whereas the quality of life is concerned. These senior living communities deal with dementia seniors on a regular basis, knowing how to meet their needs in every way. The same goes for assisted living facilities that have integrated memory care units. Both options guarantee a secure environment, in which the resident can spend his/her golden years, benefitting from care, housing, and assistance. All planned activities are targeted at slowing down the cognitive decline, memory loss and other dementia-related manifestations.
Regardless of the illness stage, moving into memory care can have a positive impact on one's mood. Seniors notice the difference, and they feel at peace with their decision, knowing that they are no longer burdening their loved ones. They enjoy their daily routine, taking part in various social and recreational activities, feeling less anxious or depressed as a result.
Options for memory care in Alaska
Even from the early stage of dementia, you should consider your options. While both continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities represent acceptable options in the beginning, it is clear that memory care represents the best choice. Think about the fact that dementia is a progressive condition; the needs of someone who has received this diagnosis are best met in such a center. A memory care unit integrated into an assisted living facility might represent another acceptable option.
Within memory care centers, senior adults have the possibility to lead a comfortable existence, especially since there are numerous features to guarantee their safety. Thanks to the efforts made by the on-site staff, they no longer feel as confused or irritated. For seniors with advanced forms of dementia, the memory care center represents a safe space as well. Once again, the staff can help them handle difficult moments, with a reduced risk of injury. Medical care is offered at a limited extent, but such services may be provided by third parties. Usually, the associated costs are covered by the resident in question.
Often times, assisted living facilities have memory care units available, so as to meet the increased demand for alternative retirement living. Dementia seniors can apply for a spot, enjoying the access to specialized care and assistance. This is a particular advantageous for couples who want to remain close to one another. Admittance criteria can be established by every facility, but they usually target the diagnosis of dementia, health status, level of assistance required, and financial eligibility.
Services offered by memory care centers in Alaska
Memory care centers in Alaska offer a wide range of services to their residents, with the main goal of improving the overall quality of life. Within a safe environment, dementia seniors can thrive and engage in activities suitable to their cognitive level. It is also worth mentioning that active lifestyles are promoted, so that seniors do not spend all of their time focused on their condition, but rather on the skills still present.
Keeping in mind that most seniors who arrive into memory care deal with specific manifestations, such as cognitive decline, memory loss, and confusion, it should come as no surprise that the services available make all of these changes easier to manage. Residents are supervised at all times, being given access to helpful therapies. Among the most common general services, there are: scheduled transportation, housekeeping, meal planning and preparation, laundry and linen service, 24/7 security, Internet and telephone access, errand running and shopping, general maintenance.
Depending on how severe their condition is, dementia seniors might receive assistance with several ADLs, such as dressing, bathing, eating, grooming, or toileting. Sometimes, additional assistance is offered, for example with oral hygiene. Some centers also provide wound care, mobility assistance, and incontinence care. All seniors benefit from medication management. In the early stage of dementia, they are supervised by the staff while they take their treatment. Trained personnel might also offer reminders or help residents open various bottles or blisters. Should the condition be more advanced, the staff can handle the treatment administration.
Amenities offered by memory care facilities in Alaska
When it comes to housing, dementia seniors can live in different types of units, such as bedrooms or apartments. As a safety precaution, living units in memory care centers do not have keyed entries. They are all accessible, with additional safety features, such as emergency response systems. The latter are particularly useful in case of major health events.
Memory care residents have access to specific amenities, which are beneficial for both physical and mental health. Among the most common amenities, there are: fitness center, swimming pool, yoga, guided walks, gardening, library, computer room, social club, weekly religious service, memory gardens. All of the activities take place under the supervision of specialized staff, and they are meant to help residents preserve their skills. Many amenities offer opportunities for socialization, so that seniors do not feel alone or isolated.
Questions to ask memory care facility in Alaska
If you have started to research memory care centers or the assisted living facilities that have memory care units, it might be indicated to organize your concerns in the form of questions. The answers might clarify whether a particular center corresponds to the needs of the respective senior, and how these might be met upon moving in. Do not hesitate to ask as many question as possible, especially when it comes to assistance and safety.
Here are several examples of questions that you might ask
- Does the memory care center cater to seniors who suffer from various types of dementia? If yes, are there different levels of care available?
- Has the memory care staff received specialized training on how to handle dementia seniors?
- What are the monthly costs that have to be covered? Are there any additional fees?
- Can the memory care center provide a detailed list of services and amenities available?
- What do housing units look like? Are there floor plans I can look at?
- Is assistance for ADLs available? Are there limitations to how many ADLs residents can receive assistance with?
- Is there an emergency response system in case of major health events?
- Are there safety features in place? Can you provide examples?
- Does the memory care center offer dietary adjustments? What do meal plans include?
- What is the service/assistance frequency?
- What are the different socialization opportunities available?
- Does the staff offer specialized care (diabetes, incontinence)?
- Are there visitation restrictions? What about discharge conditions?
Alaska-based memory centers are equipped with everything necessary for dementia residents to be well-taken care of, regardless of the illness stage. If you are still trying to decide on a particular center, here are some benefits for you to consider.
- A safe and calming environment for seniors who suffer from different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease
- Seniors are supervised at all times, so there is no risk of wandering or injury
- Residents receive assistance with activities of daily living
- Access to a wide range of therapies to preserve current skills and delay cognitive decline, memory loss, etc.
- Diverse amenities that are beneficial for both physical and mental health.
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