How will memory care change by the year 2025? The future of dementia care is an increasingly important topic, especially as the incidence of memory impairment rises exponentially.
Here are five key changes projected for the next decade that will influence the future of dementia care.
1. More memory care options will become available.
Today, countless retirement communities and senior living communities offer memory care in some capacity. Typically, memory support involves greater security measures, a higher staff-to-resident ratio and more. Looking ahead, there will likely be more memory care options from which to choose.
“My feeling is there is no one model [for memory care],” Daniel Reingold, President and CEO of RiverSpring Health in New York City, told Senior Housing News. “I think there are multiple models, and some we don’t even know about yet – they haven’t been invented.”
Some potential memory care formats include group home settings in residential neighborhoods and smaller housing models specifically for couples facing cognitive impairment.
2. The full continuum of care will improve.
Knowledge about dementia across the continuum of care will translate to more sophisticated memory support. Specifically, memory care must enhance its medical components. Medical directors with a dementia specialization is one such example, as us working with gero-psychiatrists to treat dementia-related depression.
3. Memory care specialists will become the norm.
Moving forward, there will be an even greater focus on dementia education and specialization for professionals, especially professional caregivers. That’s according to 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),” she predicted.
All of this stems from higher expectations among consumers, which may result in tighter regulations for memory care professionals.
4. Providers will introduce more effective lifestyle programs.
In order to slow the development of dementia, providers will likely seek to develop more effective and rigorous lifestyle programs.
“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,” Kim Butrum, RN, GNP, Silverado Care’s senior vice president of clinical services, told SHN. “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.”
Research shows that such interventions, like brain-healthy foods and individualized exercise programs, have the potential to combat dementia.
5. Technology will continue to advance to improve the memory care experience.
Technology already has a significant impact on memory care, and its influence on the future of dementia care will likely be even more significant. Smartphone apps can help those with dementia to remember names or provide medication reminders, for example. Technology can even assist with tracking cognitive decline over time. These sorts of systems – and others not yet imagined – will become an integral part of memory care programs.
In the years ahead, there’s no question that memory care will continue to adapt to new research and discoveries. Overall, the future of dementia care is bright, if only because society as a whole is gaining a better understanding of the disease and people remain optimistic about a cure.