A staff member places her arm around a senior woman and talks with her as the woman sits at a table with other seniors working on wood puzzles

How Memory Care Neighborhoods Are Improving Quality of Life for Dementia Patients

If you’re looking for the latest innovation in senior living, it can be found in a dementia-friendly memory care neighborhood. These small, contemporary communities are improving the quality of life for dementia patients in Culpeper, Virginia, and beyond. The household model for dementia and memory care has become more common in senior living communities nationwide. These smaller-scale, homelike settings provide an environment that is more familiar and less overwhelming for residents. They typically offer around 14 private bedrooms, all of which surround a shared kitchen and living area. While all individuals who reside in these neighborhoods may be in need of dementia care, the household model promotes increased socialization and independence, which in turn helps seniors feel that they’re still in control of their own lives.

It’s not just the residents themselves who benefit from the memory care neighborhood model. Dementia-friendly design elements can make a significant impact on the lives of both those in need of memory care and their loved ones. When it comes to memory care in Virginia, the neighborhood model emphasizes the importance of safety and security within the physical environment. This includes design touches like slip-resistant floors, anchored handrails, low hospital beds and more. Small changes such as these can provide invaluable peace of mind to the families of those staying in the dementia care and memory care neighborhood.

A living room with a fireplace and reclining chairs as a part of a memory care neighborhood with dementia friendly design

Of course, these physical elements of dementia care homes are part of a larger effort to establish a sense of familiarity within the community. The idea of a traditional senior living community can often be unwelcoming and understandably disorienting for an individual in cognitive decline. That’s why the idea to create more relaxed environments has gained traction among design teams in recent years, leading to now-common design elements such as larger windows to allow more natural light, disguised medical devices and equipment, and the ability to bring furnishings, artwork, and other family items from home into neighborhood residences. When things feel more familiar with the new residents, it’s easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings.

That adaptation is part of an effort to minimize overstimulation when seniors relocate to memory care in Virginia or any other part of the country. Many find the idea of being part of large groups or spending time in new spaces to be overwhelming. Those with dementia are especially susceptible to feeling confused or disoriented in a new environment like this, feelings that can increase when medical visits or conversations are added to the mix. It’s often easier for people with memory loss to function better in quieter, more intimate settings and smaller group sizes. Not only can these adjustments help them focus, but they can also reduce stress for seniors and their loved ones.

While smaller group settings can be beneficial, it’s still vital for seniors receiving dementia care in Virginia and other states to socialize with those around them. The memory care neighborhood model encourages active engagement within those small groups and quiet spaces. Highly dedicated and specially trained staff members within these neighborhoods understand how to cultivate conversation among residents. They know what types of interactions work best to stimulate and enhance the physical, mental and social well-being of each resident. The goal of these efforts is that in time, residents may feel comfortable enough to socialize whenever possible, not just during group activities, and recognize a renewed sense of value provided by their peers.

Just like any other neighborhood, dementia-friendly neighborhoods place a premium on inviting, secure outdoor spaces. Unrestricted, but safe, access to the outdoors is a huge benefit to seniors with memory loss. Simply going outside can reduce agitation and frustration, relieve stress and improve physical fitness. A safe space outdoors also lessens the likelihood for elopement issues, because the feeling of being cooped up or restrained in a medical setting is removed. Most neighborhood models create truly serene settings in their outdoor spaces, with walking paths, abundant greenery, and small water features to promote tranquility and minimize anxiety or disorientation.

Now that you know more about the neighborhood model, the next time you or your loved one asks, “What is dementia care really like?” you can find the answer simply by looking at your own neighborhood.

Learn more about our Cornerstone Memory Care program in Culpeper, Virginia, and our memory care neighborhoods at The Culpeper.