As people continue to live longer lives, the incidence of age-related diseases — like dementia — continues to rise exponentially, along with the need for dementia care and senior living services.
Not only are more memory care communities needed, but innovative approaches to providing quality care must also be developed. Read more about these approaches and how memory care will change by 2025.
5 Ways Memory Care Will Change by 2025
1. Intensive care will change.
Today, there are many memory care centers for seniors that offer support services. These centers offer a high ratio of staff vs. residents, security measures within the unit and more. But according to Daniel Reingold, CEO of RiverSpring Health in New York City, many communities of the future will provide a wider range of optional services to select from. “My feeling is there is no one model. I think there are multiple models and some we don’t even know about yet, that haven’t been invented,” Reingold told SHN.
Examples of future options for intensive and memory care units for seniors include:
- Group home settings offered in residential environments
- Limited unit environments with a small number of residents, each located on its own site
- Smaller housing models with more intimate settings for couples facing cognitive challenges
- 10-unit homes, dispersed throughout a metro area — as an alternative to large nursing home facilities
2. Improvement in the continuum of care will occur.
A system that addresses the needs of people over time through a comprehensive array of health services, a continuum of care refers to the delivery of health care from around age 55 to the end of life. Many older adults prefer to age in place with this type of care, so as not to have to move each time they experience a change in health care needs.
Involving this continuum of care in memory care could improve the future outcomes of seniors with dementia.
For instance, geriatric psychiatrists could on board to treat dementia-related depression, while dementia specialists act as medical directors of communities, which can then help educate new and upcoming organizations. “I think absolutely, other types of providers will become better at dementia care,” Paul Winkler, Presbyterian SeniorCare CEO, says.
3. Specialists will increase in memory care.
With an emphasis on formal education for family caregivers and professionals, the future of memory care will involve people who are more informed about the specific needs of those with dementia — during various stages of the disease.
“We will begin to see a greater focus on formalized dementia education and specialization for professionals and especially professional caregivers,” predicts Letitia Jackson, vice president of corporate engagement at Senior Star. “Instead of simply certified nursing assistants (CNAs) we may see certified dementia care nursing assistants (CDNAs).”
As consumers become more educated, they will begin to raise their expectations about the quality of care their family member receives. This will lead to tighter regulations controlling memory care professionals. “From where we were 10 years ago to now, I think there’s more understanding that it is a specialized kind of care,” says Mary Underwood, vice president of memory care and resident experience at Maplewood Senior Living. “I think people now are choosing to do memory care as a career, versus getting stuck in it. Memory care is attracting passionate people and I think that’s going to make for good care going forward.”
4. Slowing down the onset of memory loss will become a priority.
Just as the public is beginning to be more informed about diet, lifestyle and other factors that slow down the onset of memory loss or the progression of dementia, so too will providers develop programs aimed at the same goals. Offering brain-healthy foods and eliminating those that lend themselves to worsening of cognitive decline, is one example of innovative services we may see in future memory care communities.
Another possibility is to design individualized exercise programs for each resident with the approval of a physician, to slow down the onset of memory loss.
“From my standpoint, I will tell you that the biggest change I’ve seen in the last 10 years is the understanding of the disease as having a long preclinical phase,” says Kim Butrum, RN, GNP, Silverado Care’s senior vice president of clinical services. “There are interventions that can modify when you develop the disease and that’s a huge game-changer. I think there will be more and more of a focus on these healthy lifestyle factors.”
5. Technology in memory care will change.
New and innovative technology to help people with dementia, is surfacing more and more each day.
There are new apps to help people remember their loved ones’ names, those that provide medication reminders and those that help to measure one’s cognitive decline over time. These adaptations and more may end up being an integral part of memory care programs of the not so distant future.
The hope is that technology will enable people with dementia to remain in their homes longer and that memory care will eventually become a communal endeavor.
In what other ways do you think memory care will change by 2025? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.