The Benefits of Memory Care in Ottawa

Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can be rewarding but it can also be challenging. Relationships change as spouses become caregivers, and adult children find themselves parenting their parents. Many families struggle with the decision over whether or not to keep their loved ones at home or to move them to a retirement residence or a long-term care home. It’s not an easy decision to make, and knowing when to make it can also be difficult. But when it’s the right decision, moving a loved one into memory care can provide many benefits, including the health, safety and well-being of both the caregiver and the person living with dementia.

Retirement homes in Ottawa with memory care

Many retirement homes in Ottawa provide specialized memory care programs that offer not only a safe and engaging environment but one that enhances a sense of belonging and community. When your loved one moves into the residence, the care staff will want to learn all about them so that they can best provide for their unique needs. It’s important for caregivers and family to talk about their loved one’s needs, like their daily habits, favourite foods, family history and hobbies or interests. Does your mother like to sleep-in? Maybe she only likes tea, not coffee, and just a light breakfast. Try to recall things about their routines that even though they may seem small, can make a difference to their day-to-day comfort. An in-depth assessment helps determine the level of care and attention your loved one requires.

Making sure your loved one is staying healthy by eating well

Eating nutritious meals and preparing food becomes more challenging for someone living with dementia. Many find their nutritional health begins to suffer as they develop difficulties knowing how to prepare foods, use the appliances like the stove and microwave and some will have trouble remembering to eat and drink regularly. In a retirement home, they’ll enjoy three regular flavourful and nutritious meals a day, with regular mealtimes and seating routines. Eating alone can make mealtime a chore, but dinging and socializing with others makes it enjoyable again. Memory care residences also support regular hydration and nutrition, by providing snacks and drinks throughout the day. Most special diets can be accommodated, such as diabetic meal plans, low-sodium, supplemental nutritional needs and supportive dining assistance like reminders, cueing, directing and encouragement, in their own private dining room on the memory care floor.

Keeping engaged with specialized memory care programs and activities

Memory care programs provide your loved one with a variety of engaging opportunities. Activities and programs are designed to meet the changing needs of residents. Things like games, trivia and reminiscing activities can be adapted for different abilities. Residents participate in a number of different activities every day, from brain games and physical exercises to arts and crafts. Daily activities stimulate the mind, help maintain fine motor skills and keep residents physically fit. Nature walks, dancing, gentle stretching, and games that promote coordination such as bouncing a ball, can strengthen, build muscle, and maintain flexibility. Physical activity, even chair exercises, also help to prevent injury and the risk of falls. Many retirement residences also offer music programs, including singing, using instruments, listening to music and being entertained by live musicians! Music is highly therapeutic, even for those living with more advanced dementia. Regardless of ability, involvement has a positive effect on mental health, cognition and socialization.

Creating a supportive environment with routine

If you have been caring for a family member with dementia, you will know how important a daily routine is to their wellbeing. Memory care communities provide consistency, routine, and familiarity, which helps create a supportive environment. That includes supporting your loved one’s regular routine as much as possible, like turning on the news in the evening, laying out their clothes for the next day, or having their hair done every week. Staff who care for residents on memory care floors will have ongoing training and education to best support residents’ needs. Reminders and cueing may be enough for some residents to independently navigate their mealtimes, activity schedules and events. A regular routine also helps to reduce anxiety and behaviours related to frustration.

The challenges of caregiving during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for caregivers. In keeping loved ones safe, caregivers have had to struggle to explain the need for masks, staying home, and why the grandkids can’t visit, all while managing their own social isolation, cancellation of day programs, and limitations on community resources. All of these challenges have compounded the stress related to caregiving. Retirement residences offer much-needed support. Many retirement residences offer short-term respite stays on a secure Memory Care floor to allow caregivers a much-needed break. Your loved one will have the opportunity to engage with other residents while receiving personalized services by caring professionals in a safe and secure environment. Retirement residents and staff receive their COVID-19 vaccinations and homes continue to maintain health, safety, and infection control protocols.

Moving your loved one into memory care

When your loved one moves into a memory care community, they’ll get to enjoy the many programs, services, entertainment and support they need, but this allows you to become less of a caregiver and more of what you want to be – a partner, loved one, or friend. There are many great memory care homes in Ottawa to choose from. Supporting Seniors can help you sort through the options, and find the place that’s best for your loved one. It’s not an easy decision to make, so talking it through and learning about what is offered can help you put a plan in place. We do everything we can to help you make the best choice for you and your loved one. If you’d like to discuss how finding the right memory care option can help your loved one thrive, contact us and start your search today!