Alzheimer’s care, whether stand-alone or in a separate wing/unit, is perhaps the setting that has — and will continue — to see the most change in the shortest period of time. In fact, a SeniorHousingNews.com article released in January highlighted specialized dementia care as “the segment with the best growth opportunity and the most unmet demand,” per Larry Gerber, a top senior living executive.
Although the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 70% of individuals with the disease live at home (either alone or with caregivers), there is still a need for residential Alzheimer’s care options, and assisted living communities are rising to the challenge. Many providers boast an environment that is more like home and less like a hospital or healthcare facility, calling it a memory neighborhood or special care unit.
According to this AgingCare.com post, the “Memory Cafe” concept, originally developed in the UK, is gaining popularity stateside, thanks to Lori LaBey of Alzheimer’s Speaks. They are essentially “social support groups:” a safe and comfortable place and space (located within the care community or elsewhere) for caregivers and those living with the disease to connect and interact in a casual atmosphere.
Some senior living communities have also designed creative spaces (like a 50s-style ice cream shop, garden room, or old-fashioned general store) in their Alzheimer’s units for residents and visitors to gather and reminisce.
Your turn: What other creative Alzheimer’s care arrangements have you heard of/seen? Or what new ideas might you suggest providers integrate?