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The Importance of the Neighborhood Model and Dementia-Friendly Design in Memory Care

If you’re looking for the latest innovation in senior living, try looking at a memory care neighborhood. These small, contemporary communities are improving the quality of life for dementia patients in Austell, Georgia, and beyond. The neighborhood model for dementia and memory care has become more common in senior living communities nationwide. 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 confident and independent in their daily lives.

Some communities turn to specialized technologies like SimpleC. At Hearthstone at Presbyterian Village Austell, each resident has access to multimedia devices programmed with their favorite music, photographs, and even the familiar voices of loved ones, to help them bridge those memories as they become less accessible in older age. This interactive device is attached to a flat screen monitor and is easily set up in the resident’s room. With SimpleC technology, community staff can provide support with highly personalized therapy that effectively addresses the challenges of memory loss.

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 dementia care in Georgia, the neighborhood model emphasizes the importance of safety and comfort within the physical environment. This includes dementia-friendly design touches like simple and direct floor plan layouts, uncluttered hallways and carefully considered landmarks. Small additions such as these can provide invaluable peace of mind to the families of those staying in the dementia care and memory care neighborhood.

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 for 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. It’s often easier for people with memory loss to function better in quieter, more intimate settings and smaller group sizes. These adjustments can help them focus, as well as reduce stress for them and their loved ones.

While smaller group settings can be beneficial, it’s still vital for seniors receiving dementia care 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, those that are dementia-friendly 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.

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you’re probably looking for a safe, secure and homelike environment that incorporates state-of-the-art design and leading-edge care methods. At Hearthstone at Presbyterian Village Austell, our dementia-friendly design, technology, and high staff-to-resident ratio assures you that your loved one will receive the personal attention, emotional comfort and calming stability they need.

If you’d like to learn more about our memory care program in Austell, Georgia, click here.

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