assisted living

Helping to Improve Memory in Assisted Living

An assisted living (AL) facility separates itself from a nursing home by giving residents freedom to go about their daily lives. However, many of its elderly seem to exhibit the same issues found in those under nursing care, including the frequent need to be reminded about taking medication. Thus, memory assisted living is important.



Memory decline is one of the major reasons AL residents are moved to nursing homes where they will receive constant medical care and personal assistance. At the same time, there is also a demand from residents themselves and their family to allow them to “age in place.”



What can assisted living facilities do knowing that residents fear being moved because of decreasing cognitive ability?



Addressing the fear of memory loss


Many older adults fear losing their ability to remember. Several studies support this fear, citing memory decline as one of the top complaints with regards to aging. This fear is not unfounded since there is a common belief that memory declines as a person ages. What AL facilities can do to help is find ways to address the fear of memory loss.



In an effort to improve, memory assisted living facilities can conduct memory training programs. However, studies have shown that such a program is most effective in the high functioning elderly. Meaning, frail elders who are at risk for cognitive decline don’t stand to benefit from memory intervention programs.



Where AL facilities can focus on is improving everyday memory, which includes being able to remember faces and names, recent and past events, information and facts, and directions – just to name a few. Since studies show that older adults use external memory strategies (making lists or notes), AL facilities can also turn their attention towards using internal memory strategies like association.


Improving memory in the elderly


To improve memory assisted living communities can teach cognitive-behavioral skills to their elderly residents. In particular, older adults are taught how to use mnemonic techniques to improve their memory. The techniques make use of both external and internal memory strategies to help residents be better at remembering.



Some level of freedom is a benefit afforded to assisted living residents, and just how much of it is provided greatly depends on the memory capabilities of a person. For instance, someone who constantly forgets names raises red flags about their memory ability. To continue living in an AL facility, older adults should be able to demonstrate that they can remember. Remembering here involves important information, not just trivial ones.



AL communities should also not stop at just teaching older adults cognitive-behaviorial skills. They also need to make sure residents are able to apply the techniques they learned. A simple test could be to see whether or not an elderly person can remember to complete an action without any assistance.



Memory is definitely tricky, but sometimes the key to improving it is to shift traditional beliefs about declining memory. Many older adults believe that memory decline comes with age, but assisted living facilities can show them that isn’t always the case; with memory care a person can still be in good shape even in old age.



Fallbrook Assisted Living is proud to offer its services to Fremont, NE and surrounding areas and cities: Arlington, Cedar Bluffs, Ames Nickerson, Fontanelle, Arlington, Leshara, Colon, and Hooper

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