Memory Care Communities St. Louis
There are so many people facing the decision of moving out of their homes and into an assisted living or memory care community in St. Louis. The common misconception is that they are all nursing home-like. There also seems to be some confusion about the services that are provided. These communities aren’t cookie cutter, and that’s why I believe it’s very important to have an advocate to help navigate you and/or your loved one through the choices.
Several years ago I was introduced to the healthcare industry when I got a job offer as the marketing director to an assisted living community. At the time, I had never even stepped foot into a nursing home or memory care community, but it was nothing like I had seen on the movies. I was expecting there to be long white halls with a very clinical feel. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this beautiful building with so many elderly folks wanting to talk to me, some had stories to share about their life experiences and some thought of me as the lady that was going to come and make the community a better place to live. It wasn’t long before I discovered several of the residents wanted to talk to me because they were unhappy with the community for various valid reasons.
I remember leaving the first day of work calling my husband and telling him that at first glance this community was amazing. Everyone had their own apartment with a kitchenette; the showers were large roll in showers. They have all of their laundry done for them, every meal was prepared for them, and there is a bus for activities outside of the community. Most importantly, the caregivers provide the services making life easier and safer for the residents, such as bathing, dressing, medication management and anything else that they needed. With all of this, I was still driving home with a knot in my stomach because the residents in this assisted living community were all very different from one another. There was a gentleman named James who was promised there were going to be casino trips on the bus every week. He had lived there for 6 months and had never been on the bus. There was a sweet lady, Doris, in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s and obviously needed a memory care community. She would sit with her purse on her arm and her bright red lipstick every day at the front door waiting for her husband to come home from war.
These are just 2 examples, but the list of residents who had been misplaced here goes on. I soon realized that the owners wanted to fill their beds and they made promises to families in order to get folks to choose our community. They assured us that they were working on making the changes to better the community and to be patient. Like I said, I hadn’t ever been to another assisted living or memory care community, so being naive to the situation; I worked hard and stayed there for a few months because I loved my residents. I felt especially close to my residents with Alzheimer’s. I wanted to protect them and help them.
After being in the industry for a few months I thought it would be a good idea to go check out my competitors. Wow, I was blown away with what I learned! There were memory care communities that Doris and a hand full of my residents would thrive in. They would have the specialized care and activities that would stimulate them, which would light them up, and give them a purpose again. I got in my car, put my face in my hands and cried like a baby.
There were memory care communities that were set up a little different from each other. Some were set up to have a neighborhood feel and depending on what stage of Alzheimer’s, which would determine the neighborhood. Other places found it beneficial having more of a homelike environment, where the residents were free to go anywhere, because it was a safe place with caregivers there to help when needed. I could picture my residents living in these other memory care communities and it broke my heart that they didn’t know these other places existed. They had been misled by the owners of the company I worked for and it was very disheartening. I didn’t work for that company very much longer and ethically I couldn’t move the residents to other communities, but I was happy to hear that the company did change ownership and there had been some major changes after the new owners stepped in.
Memory care communities are popping up all over Saint Louis, and having an advocate help you navigate through these choices is imperative! I feel so fortunate to help families during this critical time. Recently my husband and I have helped several families from Chesterfield to South County. There are so many great memory care communities, but customizing our search for our clients is where our job becomes very important. They aren’t all the same, and a community that may have been struggling a year ago in South County, might be a fantastic community now after changes have been made. We are in the communities and we are talking to people about their experiences. Visiting with families and hearing about how they feel about them can give us some valuable information helping with our search.
When looking or thinking about looking at a memory care community in St. Louis, using this free service is one of the best things you can do for yourself or loved one.