You’ve recently noticed a growing problem: your grandparent, parent, or loved one seems to be having more and more trouble with daily activities. Their dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is progressing. You’re worried your family member isn’t eating like they should or may wander off and get hurt. Although this special person in your life gets daily assistance with bathing, dressing, cooking, and taking their medication, you have come to realize that your loved one needs more help than you can give them.
As much as you’d love to let them stay in their own home, you know you need to find somewhere better suited for their physical and neurological needs. So, you begin to research Milwaukee memory care facilities.
Transitions Can Be Challenging
Moving someone from their home to a senior care facility can be a challenge for not only the person moving in but for the entire family. That’s why you need to find a Milwaukee memory care center you can trust and one that offers its residents a variety of experiences to give them a rich and full life.
A memory care center’s goal should be to help its residents maintain their highest function level by maximizing their psychosocial and cognitive skills. To provide their residents with a secure, comfortable, and clean place to live and have personal care services and a supportive community for those with irreversible cognitive loss.
Why A Senior Living Facility?
Right now, your parent, grandparent, or significant other seems to be happy where they are. But health conditions can change in a flash. Sooner than later, the day will arrive when you will have to make the difficult decision to move them to a Milwaukee memory care facility. The truth is, this kind of center is the best choice for their welfare, health, and safety. It’s the optimum alternative for a loved one who requires more assistance than the extended family and a visiting nurse can manage. Plus, if you have a home care agency coming in to assist them, you may actually be spending more than you would by placing them in a specialized memory care center. As the home care hours increase, so does the cost. Villa St. Francis allows your family member to age in place as their requirements increase with their Milwaukee memory care facilities, even if your loved one eventually needs hospice care or runs out of funds.
Research Milwaukee Memory Care Centers First
The initial step to finding your loved one the best Milwaukee memory care center is to do some research. Make a list of facilities in your area. You and the rest of the family will want to visit often, so first, find a convenient location.
Next, make a list of what your parent, grandparent, or loved one needs.
- What medications do they take?
- Will they need physical therapy?
- How much assistance do they need with daily living activities?
- How advanced is their dementia?
- Is your loved one still capable of cooking meals, dressing themselves, etc.?
- Do they want to live in a specific part of town?
- Do they want a large facility or something smaller?
- Do they prefer to stay in one place for the rest of their lives, and, if their needs increase, be able to age in place at the community you’ve chosen?
- Will your loved one’s insurance cover everything, or will there be some out of pocket expenses?
Once you have the answers, make appointments to see each center. Please note the building’s cleanliness, how they treat the residents, how they greet you and your family, etc. Does the facility have a good reputation? (Checking online reviews and comments will let you know how others feel about the center, too.)
Ask the staff as many questions as you can think of and keep notes to compare the answers when you get home. This is an important decision, so take your time and find the right place for your loved one.
Benefits of a Milwaukee Memory Care Center
Please understand that it is not selfish to move your loved one to a memory care center. Do you spend your days stressing over them? Are you exhausted from running back and forth to help with shopping, dressing, cooking, etc.? Do you drive them to church or doctor’s appointments every week? Are you neglecting your own family or yourself to be with them? It’s time to stop trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman. Even they couldn’t do it all. Frankly, even if you hire a home care agency to help you, it still falls on the family to manage everything.
The most basic principle of memory care is to help residents with their daily activities and to offer them the best quality of life possible. Family members get to exhale and let someone else take over. Here are more benefits and services provided by the best Milwaukee memory care facilities:
Safe and Secure Environment
Just adding a few modifications in the bathroom or better locks on the front door will not keep your family member safer or healthier in their own home. A memory care facility provides a comfortable, secure environment with a well-trained, 24-hour staff. There are handrails in the hallways to help with walking, safety precautions in every room, and proper lighting everywhere. If necessary, medical attention is available immediately.
The staff and caregivers working with dementia patients are specifically trained and receive ongoing education regarding these residents’ issues. They can deliver better physical and cognitive care, be more patient, and provide personal care services for those residents who struggle with daily living activities. The environment is designed especially for the special needs of these residents.
Individual Service Plans
With input from family members, significant others, the primary physician, and the facility case management team, each resident at a Milwaukee memory care facility receives an individual treatment plan. The plan should assess them accurately, have realistic goals, and respond to their changing and unique needs.
Licensed nurses ensure each resident receives ongoing health and psychiatric monitoring. There are annual routine health screenings and visits with specialists, dentists, and other healthcare providers. Medication is monitored through pharmacists and staff and prescribed by a medical doctor.
Leisure Time and Social Activities
Milwaukee memory care facilities offer opportunities to stay active. Even when family members visit or come to help, living alone can contribute to the decline of your loved one’s mental and physical health. Family members are not trained to know what to do and may allow their parent or grandparent to just sit in front of the television or look out the window all day.
Memory care activities are designed for each resident to maximize their involvement and keep them stimulated. Using art and music, for example, residents can express themselves more easily, building a positive sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
A music and memories program uses personalized music to help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients find renewed connections and meaning in their lives. Residents who have fewer verbal abilities often sing along, hum, or tap their feet. The area of the brain that connects memories and music is often unaffected in many people living with dementia. There is magic in music!
Supervised group activities with cultural and religious events also help residents appropriately socialize, productively interact, and stay connected. The staff encourages residents to maintain relationships with loved ones and family members. Residents will have productive one-on-one interactions and independent leisure time as well.
Being sedentary decreases muscle tone; this can lead to balance issues. To boost physical fitness and blood flow, residents are encouraged to walk. They can also attend exercise classes and join yoga sessions uniquely designed for those with memory loss.
Nutritious Meals and Snacks
Are you cooking all the meals for your loved one? Are you concerned about what they’re eating – or if they are eating enough? Those with dementia often forget to have a meal or don’t eat nutrient-dense meals. Milwaukee memory care facilities provide dining experiences to increase food intake and promote independence. For example, residents are offered warm, moist towels before eating to soothe and sanitize their hands and encourage eating.
Villa St. Francis Milwaukee memory care centers serve fresh and nutritious meals three times every day, understanding the medical conditions and special needs of their residents. For those who have difficulty sitting for dining or who no longer use utensils, there are snacks and finger food available. To ensure adequate hydration, a water station is also accessible day and night.
Villa St. Francis Memory Care Programs
To meet the needs of greater Milwaukee citizens who have dementia, Villa St. Francis has established a Memory Care center. Up to 24 residents can live in private apartments on the third floor of their assisted living facility. Their program aims to maintain the highest level of functioning for their residents and maximize their psychosocial and cognitive skills. Villa St. Francis is a structured, warm environment with an atmosphere of hope. Here are just a few of the programs they offer to their residents with dementia:
- Aroma Therapy – Recent studies have shown that using certain scents and oils can calm and relax a person and stimulate their appetite.
- Massage Therapy – Even a brief hand massage has shown to produce a physiological relaxation response and reduce cortisol levels. Rubbing the knuckles and gently pressing on the palm in a circular motion can reduce agitated behavior in dementia patients. This also provides an opportunity for positive interaction between staff and residents.
- Photavia – This is a therapeutic tool to educate, engage, and create experiences for the residents using digital screens.
- Memories in the Making – This program, from the Alzheimer’s Association, offers creative artistic expressions through watercolor painting with a trained facilitator. This process gives individuals with cognitive impairment opportunities to socially engage and discuss interests and meaningful moments in their lives while painting.
- About ME – This is a resource for people with dementia to tell staff, residents, and family about their interests, likes, needs, their history, and background to build relationships. This program recognizes that these residents are just like other individuals with life stories, ideas, values, and preferences.
- Pet Therapy – Companion pets, both real and robotic, and baby dolls provide comfort to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These animals and dolls foster meaningful connections, happiness, and joy through play.
- Support Groups – Led by social workers and chaplains, support groups provide meaningful sharing and important information for family caregivers. Participants talk honestly and openly about their feelings and how this disease is impacting their family, themselves, and their loved one. The hope is that, through these meetings, the members will gain a sense of control, reduce stress, lessen anxiety and fatigue, and improve coping skills. They can also build friendships with others having the same experiences and feel less isolated.
Don’t Decide on Price Alone
When choosing a memory care facility for your loved one, don’t decide based only on price. You need to consider the center’s reputation and quality of care first. Also, understand that there are different levels of care, depending on your loved one’s needs.
Does your family member require high-level, constant 24-hour care? Do they just need someone to help them get dressed in the morning? Or is it somewhere in between? The answer to these questions will determine what area within Villa St. Francis your loved one will reside.
The difference in care level will also have different costs – the more care, the higher the price. However, having great care will provide peace of mind and reassurance to the entire family, which is priceless.
Doing some research and asking questions will help you make a more informed decision while reviewing all of your options. Generally, after a tour of the center, or even after a phone conversation, most senior living centers will share their prices and discuss alternatives and choices.
The Villa St. Francis Milwaukee Memory Care center will help your family member live the rest of their lives with dignity and purpose. You’ll no longer have to worry about their safety, their home, or their daily health. Instead, you can enjoy visiting them while they listen to their favorite music, meet new people, and take pleasure in life.
Learn More About Memory Care Through Villa St. Francis
Are you unsure of the next steps to take? Contact Villa St. Francis for help. They are a specialized community focused on healthy, hopeful, and fulfilling lives for greater Milwaukee seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They are happy to answer all of your questions.
Call Villa St. Francis today and take a comprehensive tour. They have available apartments for immediate occupancy. This may be the perfect place for your loved one.
Until then, we’re still connecting residents to their families.
The holidays have come and gone but the COVID-19 virus is still at large. Everyone is anxious to spend time with their loved ones and resume normal activities. In assisted living and nursing home communities, this has been an ongoing challenge.
Many have elderly parents or friends in nursing homes or assisted living facilities where restrictions are in place to keep them safe. People are wondering “Can we visit?” and “Is it safe to take our loved ones out for gatherings?” Many fear that their elders are isolated, and depression is at a high.
Thankfully, the vaccines are coming. The state of Wisconsin has already begun vaccinating residents of nursing homes and those in hospitals, along with front-line healthcare workers. Assisted living residents and staff are next. We anticipate that the vaccines should be coming by late January or early February. Both pharmaceutical companies (Moderna and Pfizer) will have a two-stage vaccination process, so people will not be entirely safe until they receive both vaccinations and allow time for them to do their job, so people should continue to practice regular hand washing, safe distancing, and wear masks until we are cleared. We have waited a long time for this, and we’re anxious to be able to resume normal lives again since COVID-19 arrived last year.
One benefit of being in an assisted living facility is that the residents may receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than those living in the community. Now is a great time to make a move if you’re considering it. Assisted living and pharmacy staff will handle all the paperwork and provide both doses, and they will submit paperwork to your insurance provider and handle the follow-up. There is no need to register online, wait on hold, or go out since the pharmacy will come right to our doors. Getting vaccinated sooner means that family visits, hugs, and gatherings may soon be in the picture. A target date of March 1 or even mid-March is a great time for a move and to get on the vaccine schedule.
What we do know now is that not only will the vaccine help keep you from getting sick, it will also help us reach a “herd immunity.” The more people who are immune, the faster the virus stops spreading. The vaccine will not give you COVID-19, as some think. There could be some side effects, but the vaccine does not actually make you test positive for the coronavirus. Two vaccinations are done, and until we are cleared, we need to continue to practice precautions that are in place and continue masking.
We want to spend more time with our parents and loved ones, but until we are cleared and vaccinated, what alternatives do we have?
One way to stay connected is through Skype and FaceTime visits. Sometimes calling frequently and speaking to your loved one isn’t enough, and it’s really important to see them. Many communities have staff assisting residents and providing the necessary technology to make this happen. A scheduled appointment works very well in this case.
Window visits work well for some, but not all. Many places have restrictions with opening windows because that can spread infection, and the cold weather may prohibit this anyway. And for residents who do not have ground floor access, this doesn’t work unless they are able to use public space or a balcony. I’ve been privileged to be involved in the planning of some amazing events that families arranged. One resident turned 90, and her family did a drive-by caravan through the parking lot, complete with large signs and police cars with sirens. It brought tears to my eyes. The resident was so touched, and her family had so much fun doing this socially-distanced event.
I’ve also seen families bring birthdays to third-floor residents by bringing balloons and singing from the parking lot while the resident came to the balcony. It’s not the same as being there for hugs, but it is still a way to connect.
If you’re looking for more ways to connect with your loved one, what about a family Zoom call? Delivering a home-cooked meal to your loved one is a great idea too. What about a short video that staff can play for your loved one? You can also send a gift package or make a tape or CD of their favorite music to play in their apartment.
We love connecting our residents with their families during this difficult time. If you’d like to see what we’re doing at Villa St. Francis Assisted Living to stay connected, please visit our Facebook page.
By Patty Murdock, Director of Marketing at Villa St. Francis Assisted Living and Memory Care
Looking for the Best Assisted Living Option in Milwaukee?
Are you doing an assisted living or senior living price comparison for your loved one? If so, it’s best not to make the decision on price alone. Of course you want to consider quality care and reputation, but did you know there are different levels of assisted living care in the state of Wisconsin? The RCAC and CBRF have regulatory differences, and the prices will vary too.
The RCAC, Residential Care Apartment Complex, offers up to 28 hours of unskilled care each week for an individual. That care could include medication management, showers or cleaning. These types of assisted level facilities are often intermingled with independent seniors who have minimal needs and want the option to add more services as they need them. However, if your loved one has an activated power of attorney, they cannot be admitted at this level and must go to a higher level facility. They must be competent to make decisions. The RCAC will typically offer a functioning kitchen, so residents can make meals or eat in the dining room if they choose. What you’ll need to consider is whether your loved one can safely cook and whether they will get proper nutrition if a robust meal option is not offered.
A CBRF, Community Based Residential Facility, can offer unlimited unskilled cares PLUS up to three hours of skilled nursing care a week. Some CBRF communities will provide sliding scale diabetic treatment, assistance with using the toilet, and other higher level cares such as wound care. Residents may not be cooking anymore, so meals will normally be provided. Someone with an activated power of attorney could be admitted at this level. In addition, it is likely that you’ll have care staff around the clock, providing reassurance and peace of mind. Most memory care (dementia care) facilities will also be at the CBRF level.
What is the difference in cost for these assisted living levels? The CBRF will probably cost more, but the benefits are huge if you want your loved one to be able to stay in their home if their needs change and exceed those covered at the RCAC you’re considering. Many families will say they “don’t want to have to move Mom again.” If that’s the case, a CBRF could be the better choice. While some RCAC communities can take higher level cases, they might need to bring in outside services to provide care so they don’t exceed maximums as regulated by the state. And you might be responsible for paying for those additional home care services. Someone with an already activated power of attorney will need the CBRF level upon entry. Many CBRF facilities can offer memory care as well. These facilities differ from nursing homes, which offer 24/7 nursing care, with some stays being covered by Medicare. The CBRF is a less restrictive environment than a nursing home.
While you are doing this research, ask these questions:
-What does your loved one need most? Make a list of Milwaukee senior living and assisted living facilities. Your loved one’s ADLs (activities of daily living) and other healthcare needs should be considered.
-Will these needs be covered by both an RCAC and a CBRF?
-Does your loved one have an activated health care power of attorney?
-Does your loved one want to stay in one place or move again as their needs increase?
-As always, consider the location, the friendliness of the staff and the facility’s reputation. Good care is of the utmost importance.
Before you consider price when looking for senior living and assisted living in Milwaukee, remember the differences in assisted living regulations. Doing a little bit of research can definitely help you make an informed decision. Most assisted living communities are willing to share their prices after a tour or a phone conversation. The easiest way to find a facility online and to contact them directly is to click on their actual website. In most cases, paid referral agencies will appear at the top of your search page under the ads, and they will not include all of your assisted living options because they may only be contracted with certain senior living providers. Being search savvy will also help you make an informed decision while considering all your options.
Villa St. Francis is a CBRF offering high level assisted living care plus a secured memory care unit. Villa St. Francis residents enjoy private apartments and private bathrooms with three meals served daily. Catholic Mass is also offered daily, plus activities and transportation to outings and medical appointments.