Q:  My husband has been diagnosed with memory issues and we are thinking ahead about a memory care facility. How do we choose a good one?

A:  A diagnosis of cognitive impairment or memory issues can be overwhelming –for both patient and family. I applaud you for planning ahead. A full understanding of your options will lead to better informed care decisions for your husband. But researching the various programs and amenities of memory care facilities can be challenging. There are important features you should look for — and questions you should ask.

Typically, all assisted living facilities will offer basic services like meal preparation, laundry and housekeeping. Good memory care facilities will provide additional specialized medical and behavioral care and a higher level of assistance with activities of daily living.

Physical Infrastructure
Memory care communities are often built with physical features designed to aid those with memory issues. Architects endeavor to create a space that is comfortable, easy to navigate, and visually and mentally engaging. Designs may include circular layouts, memory boxes for room identification, boosted natural lighting and stimulating multi-sensory environments, plus special security features.

I am often asked if people in memory care facilities become lonely and isolated. Actually, it seems the exact opposite is true! Specially designed common areas allow residents to congregate, interact and participate in enjoyable activities.

Systems and Training
An estimated six out of 10 Alzheimer’s patients have the tendency to “wander.” Memory care facilities must take extra measures to keep these clients safe. Some precautions include an increased staffing ratio, security alarms on exterior doors or “wander guard” alert bracelets for staff. Importantly, be sure to ask about the documented dementia training given to the direct-care staff and what it encompasses.

Some memory care communities bring in behavioral professionals to create special programming for residents. The data suggests memory care clients in these sites take less medication, have a reduced number of falls and injuries, exhibit improved wellness and nutritional health and (although in a facility) still enjoy independence. In addition, many programs have been shown to decrease wandering frequency and “acting out” type behaviors.

Dementia differs in each individual. And not surprisingly, memory care communities are not “one size fits all.” If you are considering memory care options for a family member, first think about working with a Certified Care Manager in your area. These independent professionals are familiar with local memory care facilities and can make a recommendation based on the specific needs of your loved one. For more information, call One Senior Place at 321-751-6771.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.