General Articles

6/23/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Memory care is a wing of a senior living facility or a standalone facility dedicated to the care of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of memory care is to provide a safe, secure, and enriching home for these residents. Memory care facilities are designed specifically for patients with dementia. For example, because residents with these types of conditions tend to wander (an estimated one in six dementia patients has this tendency), exits and doors of memory care units are even more secure than other senior housing.

Memory care facilities also provide specialized care and therapy for residents. While it may not be possible to stop or reverse dementia, these types of therapy help people retain the skills they do have. These types of therapy also alleviate frustration and help residents live the most enjoyable life possible.

Habilitation Therapy

Developed in 1996 by Paul Raia, Ph.D. and Joanne Koenig Coste of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, habilitation therapy has become one of the most widely-accepted forms of dementia therapy. Because it’s not possible to return Alzheimer’s patients to a previous, higher level of functioning (like rehabilitation therapy would for a patient) habilitation therapy focuses on extending the current level of ability. Habilitation therapy focuses on what the patient can do, not what they can’t do, and therapies are tailored for each patient. Therapists and caregivers let patients complete tasks that they are able to do (like dressing or eating), and encourage them as they complete these tasks. Habilitation therapists strive to maintain a positive emotional state in the patient.

Occupational Therapy

This type of therapy helps patients with everyday tasks – ADLs (activities of daily living) like getting dressed and eating meals. Occupational therapists also assess and customize the resident’s environment; they make sure that everything in the environment is helping the resident live as normally as possible. One example is organizing a resident’s closet so that only the clothes appropriate to the season are available. If the resident doesn’t have the option of choosing inappropriate clothing, it’s much less stressful for them to do this task themselves. Therapists can also find easier versions of recreational activities the resident previously enjoyed. For example, if the resident likes puzzles or games, the therapist can provide these. They will be at the right level, often a level that will still be enjoyable but won’t frustrate them.

Physical Therapy in Memory Care

Physical therapy helps patients with balance, which lowers their chance of falling and getting injured. The exercise involved in physical therapy can also improve a patient’s mood and alleviate depression.

Reality Orientation

In this form of therapy, therapists work with patients to remind them about the current time and place. Many dementia patients become confused, and this therapy helps them stay rooted in the present. Reality orientation helps them interact with friends and family. This therapy isn’t appropriate for all patients, though. If someone firmly believes they’re in a different time or place, reality orientation could upset them.

Validation Therapy

Developed by social worker Naomi Fell in the 1960’s and 1970’s, this type of therapy is a form of counseling. Validation therapy focuses on understanding and empathizing with the patient. Instead of just putting a stop to behavior that seems irrational or illogical, therapists listen to what the patient is saying or analyzes what they are doing. Then they help them work through the emotions causing the behavior. Research has found that validation therapy reduces agitation levels in patients with more advanced dementia.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff