The Differences Between Assisted Living and Private Memory Care


The realization that a loved one is having serious memory lapses is difficult, and a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia has its own challenges. It raises many questions, and one of the most pressing relates to where your loved one will live going forward. Once the decision has been made that it’s unsafe for them to continue living on their own, the next step is deciding on something more appropriate. As you begin investigating the options, here’s what to understand about the differences between assisted living and private memory care.

The Right Kind of Care

Assisted living and memory care homes are among the fastest-growing options in residential senior care. The former offers personal care services and housing to aging loved ones, who need the extra help with daily tasks or more specialized nursing care relating to things like mobility. Some assisted living homes also offer memory care services. These facilities aren’t federally regulated, but they should be licensed in their respective states.

Memory care is a specialized form of skilled care created for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In a private home like Syncare here in Minnesota, you can expect 24-hour supervised care of your loved one in an environment that has been designed to be safe, stimulating, and familiar. Because they’re built to accommodate those living with memory issues, private memory care homes are often much better suited to the unique needs of their residents. This level of care requires state licensing, and it’s regulated even further in 23 states. 

Comparing Costs

There are a number of variables to both kinds of long-term care that will affect the price. These include factors such as location, room size, shared spaces, and services needed. In general, you can expect the following services or something similar in both kinds of homes:

  • Medical care access
  • Daily meals
  • Social activities and programs
  • Health and fitness programs
  • Housekeeping and laundry service
  • Emergency care
  • Round-the-clock supervision and security

Services like these, and others, may be an additional cost above and beyond monthly rent. Memory care homes will also offer structured programs designed specifically to engage residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Because memory care homes offer more specialized care than assisted living facilities, costs may be higher in a side-by-side comparison. Unfortunately, there’s no universal rate that makes it easy to identify the best choice. Ultimately, it’s best to research the options in your area to understand the true value of one home over another.

The Right Decision

Choosing the right home for your loved one can be overwhelming, but a good rule of thumb is to consider their current level of independence. If the help they need is still rather limited, assisted living may be a good fit. More complex care needs will likely be better addressed in a home that understands what that really means.

5 Communication Tips When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s


Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that progressively worsens. In a post about important things to remember if you have a loved one with this disease, succinctly addresses one of its worst side effects: “As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it becomes easier to forget that your loved one is still present. Many caregivers are frustrated by their loved one’s inability to communicate their thoughts or remember faces and names. The disease eventually takes away independence so that caregivers become the feet, hands, and minds of people struggling with dementia.” Remembering this reality can go a long way in helping you find patience. Here at Syncare Memory Suites, a private memory care home in Minnesota, we understand the many challenges that come for the families of those living with Alzheimer’s. Communication is one of them. It can be difficult, but it’s helpful to remember that effective communication with someone who has dementia is a learned skill. Here are five communication tips when loved one has Alzheimer’s.

Stay Calm

Symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s can create frustrating or alarming experiences. Do your best to remember that your loved one isn’t trying to be difficult on purpose — this is the disease itself. Stay calm, and avoid getting upset or overly emotional with your loved one. Elevated feelings will only complicate the situation and make it more difficult for everyone. Practice taking deep, even breaths, counting slowly to ten, or stepping outside for a moment to collect yourself. These techniques will help you regain control so that you can manage the situation as calmly as possible.

Maintain Steady Eye Contact

Staying engaged with your loved one is important, and steady eye contact is a critical element of active listening. Good listening skills require a certain degree of self awareness, so practice making a conscious effort to hear not just the words being spoken, but the message behind it. It’s a learned skill and it can be difficult with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, but it will help you interpret what’s being said based on context. You should expect your loved one to struggle to find the right words, substitute words, repeat themselves, or lose their train of thought, and anticipating these patterns can help you manage them more effectively.

Make Notes & Keep Lists

You can’t expect your loved one to remember things like doctor’s appointments or check-ups, so don’t set them up for failure. Writing down notes and keeping lists of things like medications and important names and phone numbers will help your loved one better manage their disease. Keep these notes and lists easily accessible so they can see them throughout the day.

Avoid Arguments

Don’t waste your energy arguing over trivial issues. Remind yourself again that the disease is the culprit, and your loved one isn’t being deliberately obtuse or combative. Speaking calmly and rationally is a much better tactic, so focus on this approach when your loved one is arguing about something minor.

Encourage Independence as Appropriate

Your loved one’s level of independence may be greatly limited, but encourage them to do some things on their own. It may be something as simple as making their own coffee or tying their own shoes, but it’s important to let them do what they can for themselves.

Moving Forward

Outside help can sometimes be the best tool for you and your loved one. A private memory care home like Syncare puts you back in the role of loved one so that you have more patience and time. Learn more about our approach to specialized memory care — contact us today.

3 Benefits of Snoezelen Therapy for Alzheimer’s Patients

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may be familiar with the term Snoezelen. It’s a form of therapy that was developed in the Netherlands almost 50 years ago as a method of increasing sensory experiences for people living with intellectual disabilities. However, Snoezelen therapy has proven just as effective for people with different kinds of dementia, which is why it’s being incorporated into memory care facilities. Here are three benefits of Snoezelen therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.

What is Snoezelen Therapy?

 The word itself is a combination of two Dutch words. “Snuffelen” means to seek and explore, and “doezelen” means to relax. Snoezelen refers to highly structured, therapeutic spaces that incorporate light, scent, sound, and music to promote soothing calmness for people living with different disorders and conditions, including Alzheimer’s. These environments include a mix of stimuli intended to reduce common symptoms like agitation and restlessness, which can help improve quality of life for people with dementia.

Specific Benefits of Snoezelen for Alzheimer’s

 Dementia disorders are characterized by a number of symptoms, and sensory deprivation is one of them. A Snoezelen room is an effective way to engage seniors living with these disorders. The rooms can be tailored to individuals, incorporating personalized stimuli that target all seven senses.

 One of the biggest impacts of Snoezelen therapy is its ability to calm a senior’s fears while promoting trust in their caregivers. Time spent in the Snoezelen room facilitates verbal and non-verbal communication, and that’s something that often continues after the therapy. 

Sharing an experience in a Snoezelen environment can help deepen connections between seniors and caregivers, which is particularly important in a private memory care community like Syncare Memory Suites here in Minnesota. It’s our goal to create lasting, trusting relationships with our residents, and sensory therapy can help.

 This level of sensory therapy is also designed to promote calmer behavior without resorting to medications. These non-threatening, gently stimulating environments reduce tension, making them particularly useful during periods of sundowning.

Therapy with Specific Goals

While Snoezelen isn’t intended to reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s, it does offer a specific goal-oriented focus for everyone who uses it. Helping residents feel less fearful, less agitated, and more relaxed all contribute to improved quality of life. For people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, that’s important.

Questions about Snoezelen therapy, and how Syncare Memory Suites incorporates sensory therapy into our residents’ daily lives? Contact us today.

5 Tips for Transitioning a Loved One to Private Memory Care


A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is life-changing, and that’s true for a loved one’s family member as well. At some point, family members may realize the best way they can help their loved one is by finding specialized care. It’s not an easy decision, but it’s truly an act of love when it’s made for the right reasons. If you’ve come to understand that letting someone else care for your loved one is what’s best for them, here are five tips for transitioning your loved one to private memory care.

Visiting Before the Move

While you will have visited a private memory care home before deciding it’s the right one, it’s still new to your loved one. Planning a few visits together to tour the home, meet the staff and residents, and perhaps attend an activity, gives your loved one a chance to become more familiar with new surroundings. While a loved one with dementia may not remember these visits, it’s important to begin this new stage with a sense of positivity and familiarity.

Work Closely with New Caregivers

Here at Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized memory care home in Minnesota, we understand the importance of comprehensive on-boarding. That means we’ll work closely with you to understand as much as we can about your loved one. We want to know everything about likes and dislikes, a typical day, their normal routine, and their preferred activities. Being upfront and frank about this and other information you feel we should understand makes it easier for us to care for your loved one in a way that’s familiar and comforting.

Create a Familiar Room

While the actual moving of your loved one’s belongings into their new room can be chaotic, the goal should be to create a space that’s reminiscent of home. Personal items, like a favorite blanket, personal photographs, treasured items, even beloved pieces of furniture, should be arranged in a way that reminds your loved one of a familiar, comforting space. The goal isn’t a brand new room full of brand new things, but a space that will put your loved one at ease.

Visit Often

Visiting often is important. You’ll be comforted to see how well you loved one is doing in their structured new environment, and they’ll enjoy the company. If you had shared routines, such as watching a particular television show, taking a morning walk, playing a specific board game, or just sharing a meal, do what you can to maintain that. You should also do your best to stay positive. It’s understandable that a transition like this is full of mixed emotions for both of you, but modeling positivity will be helpful to your loved one.

Make Arrangements for Updates

As you and your loved one both adjust to this new way of life, you’ll find comfort in information. Make arrangements with a primary caregiver for regular updates on your loved one during the first few days or weeks. That way, you can address any questions or concerns from the staff and you’ll also learn how your loved one is adjusting to the new home.

For more information about the specialized memory care we offer here at Syncare, contact us today. We understand the enormity of a decision like this, and we’re here to help.

The Benefits of Music Therapy in Dementia Care


For seniors living with progressive brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, music therapy can prove to be a wonderful cognitive intervention. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we incorporate a variety of proven therapies into the daily lives of our residents. Music is one of them. It’s been proven to boost brain activity in several ways, and it’s an excellent way to improve quality of life.

What is Music Therapy?

This evidence-based therapy falls into the same category as physical and occupational therapy, as well as speech-language pathology. Music is used as a therapeutic tool to address a variety of patient needs, including physical, social, psychological, emotional, behavioral, and even spiritual. For people living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in particular, music has been shown to activate different parts of the brain.

According to a study shared by, musical aptitude and appreciation are among the last remaining abilities of those living with Alzheimer’s. That’s why music can function as a tool for reaching beyond the disease to the person. Here are three benefits of music therapy for dementia care.

An Emotional Connection

Even people living with the most advanced instances of Alzheimer’s can demonstrate emotion with music. Music is an emotional experience that often triggers memories. By pairing music with day-to-day activities, residents can settle into a familiar rhythm that can help them maintain cognitive ability.

Enhanced Engagement

Listening to music and singing along both spark activity in various parts of the brain. It’s a stimulating experience that’s equally enjoyable, which makes it ideal for exercising the mind. As a shared activity, music can also promote emotional and even physical closeness.

Emotional Management

Music therapy has been shown to help manage stress-induced agitation and mood. Listening or singing along to music don’t require strenuous mental effort — it’s effortless, engaging, and stimulating, which is what makes it so appropriate for those with progressive brain disorders.

Learn More

For more information on the music therapy offered here at Syncare, or details about our specialized approach to care, contact us today. We’re understand the gravity of choosing a home for your loved one, and we’re here to help.

A Loved One with Alzheimer’s — Three Tips for Celebrating New Year’s Eve


For a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, familiar traditions of the holiday season can be overwhelming. In a recent post, we shared tips for creating holiday joy in the midst of challenging changes and now we’re sharing three tips for celebration New Year’s Eve.

Make Resolutions Together

A brand new year feels like a fresh start. It’s the perfect time to assess your life and make commitments to changing for the better. Involve your loved one in the process of making resolutions. Consider committing to spending quality time together on a schedule, such as a Sunday evening dinner or a mid-week brunch. Putting these shared events on your loved one’s calendar will help them feel connected to you, and it’s an opportunity for you to spend quality time together.

Reminisce about Past Celebrations

Looking to the past is a traditional part of the holiday season. It’s a nostalgic time, which makes it ideal for looking through photo albums together, listening to seasonal music, and sharing stories of old. Memories can be triggered by familiarity, so try to incorporate any family traditions you may have for New Year’s. If your family celebrates in a special way, modify it as necessary and enjoy.

Make the Countdown Work for You

The traditional countdown on New Year’s Eve is to midnight, but that may not be feasible for your loved one. There are lots of ways to count down. If you’re on the West Coast, follow the East Coast countdown for an earlier night. On the East Coast? Consider celebrating with a New Year’s Day breakfast. Either way, break out the festive hats and party horns and enjoy.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for your loved one mean inevitable changes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy holidays together. Be open to modifying traditions to ensure your loved one’s safety and comfort, and remember to stay positive. Above all, you’re together, and that’s what matters.

Learn more about Syncare Memory Suites, a personalized and private memory care home in Minnesota. We understand the challenges you face when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and we’re here to answer your questions. Contact us today.

A Loved One with Alzheimer’s — Three Tips for Holiday Joy


When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s often the beginning of big changes to the family dynamic. And these changes are particularly noticeable during the holiday season, especially if your loved one previously played an important role in beloved holiday traditions. Fortunately, the holiday season can still be a time of family and joy. Our three tips for holiday joy can help you create new traditions that incorporate the established and familiar, while meeting the new needs of your loved one.

Look to the Past

The holiday season makes everyone a little nostalgic, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the memories that are triggered in your loved one through familiar seasonal music or annual traditions like decorating the Christmas tree. This is a wonderful time to look through old photo albums and remember Christmases past, to watch beloved Christmas movies, or to spend time together baking and decorating holiday treats. Be mindful of any adjustments you’ll need to make to ensure your loved one’s safety and engagement, and enjoy this time of reminiscing.

Give a Nod to Old Traditions with Something New

While some seasonal traditions, like ice skating or skiing, may no longer be an option, there are always new traditions to be made. If you can’t go ice skating or skiing, try a short walk through freshly fallen snow instead. The holidays are a wonderful time for family, and time spent together is what really makes our traditions so memorable. How we choose to spend that time is less important than the closeness itself, so consider what activities would best engage your loved one, and build a new tradition around them.

Do What You Can From Home

Shopping plays a big role in the holiday season, but these outings can be stressful for your loved one. Avoid the crowds and the sensory overload completely, and help your loved one shop from the comfort of home. Looking online or through a catalog together keeps your loved one engaged, even if they don’t end up buying anything. Creating homemade gifts, such as thoughtfully wrapped Christmas treats, can also be a wonderful way to spend time together.

Above all, do your best to stay positive. Instead of remembering how things used to be, remind yourself to look on the bright side. It’s a better mindset for you, and your positivity is better for your loved one, too. Set a good example by enjoying this special time of year — a time for family.

How to Talk with a Loved One about Dementia

Watching parents and loved ones grow older isn’t always easy. Signs of dementia can make it even more challenging. You may wonder whether these signs and symptoms are something you should even mention to your loved ones. At Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we understand this struggle. It’s a conversation that may seem overwhelming, but it likely means an earlier diagnosis and a smoother transition into major life changes.

Signs & Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can also be characteristic of age-related changes. But if you’re noticing changes to your loved one’s memory, thinking, and social abilities, it’s worth investigating. These changes can include:

    • Memory loss that’s disrupting daily life
    • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
    • Difficulty planning or solving problems
    • Confusing time and place
    • Misplacing things and getting lost
    • Changes in judgement and decision making
    • Difficulty speaking and writing

If you notice these or other symptoms, it’s best to speak with a doctor. A proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can mean access to treatment plans, plus the opportunity to begin making financial and legal plans for your loved one.

Speaking to a Loved One about Dementia Symptoms

Feeling at a loss for words is common when it comes to speaking to a loved one about dementia symptoms. No one wants to negatively affect a relationship or upset someone they love. But it’s a conversation worth having as early as possible. Before you do, consider who might be the best person for the job. Is there a particular family member to whom your loved one is exceptionally close? You should also be prepared for your loved one to act defensively or be unwilling to discuss the changes you’ve noticed. He or she may not be able to see these changes or symptoms in themselves, either. It’s also common for them to feel confused, or to deny or withdraw. Here are four tips for this difficult conversation:

    • Be direct and specific: Tell your loved one that you’ve noticed changes in their behavior that you wanted to discuss. Share examples of those changes, and ask if they’ve noticed them as well.
    • Be supportive:  Acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation and that these can be scary changes for your loved one. Let them know you’re here for them and willing to help however you can.
    • Be prepared: Tell your loved one that you’d like to schedule a doctor’s appointment for a definitive answer.
    • Don’t wait: The sooner you can have this conversation, the better.

The Takeaway

There is no easy way to broach a conversation about dementia symptoms with a loved one. But recognizing the importance of this kind of discussion can help. Once you know definitively whether a loved one truly has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you’re in a position to start planning. In Minnesota, Syncare Memory Suites can help.

5 Steps to Turn Dementia Care Principles into Best Practices

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is increasing. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are currently living with this brain disease. And as our senior population grows, so too will Alzheimer’s diagnoses. That makes proper care options even more pressing. Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota is a specialized memory care home for seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It’s our goal to provide safe, structured, person-centered care that emphasizes choice, dignity, and purposeful living for our residents. We want to be part of the movement that’s committed to creating a society designed to support people living with dementia. Today, we’re sharing five steps to turn dementia care principles into best practices. If you’re looking at care options for your loved one, these are practices you want to see emphasized in a home.

Appropriate Assessments

Assessing a new resident’s experiences and abilities are a critical first step. As you investigate care options, make note of admission criteria. During the onboarding process, a thorough assessment that evaluates cognition, health history, and your loved one’s life story should be conducted. A cognitive assessment will help caregivers identify the dementia stage and your loved one’s remaining abilities. The health history and life story will give them necessary medical facts and an understanding of what’s meaningful and familiar to your loved one.

Person-Centered Care

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends engagement in meaningful activities to help those living with dementia maintain functional ability while also enhancing quality of life. In practice, that means a variety of therapeutic plans and programs that are individually designed to suit the needs, preferences, and abilities of the resident. These kinds of programs and plans should also include activities like dining, grooming, and other habits of daily living.

A Competent, Trained Support Team

Qualified caregivers in a memory care home should be fully trained and experienced with dementia. This means ongoing coaching, mentoring, and training to keep caregivers current on new tools, technology, and best practices. A competent, trained support team includes everyone involved in a private memory care home, from the founder to direct caregivers to supporting staff.

Inquire about staff turnover as well. Minimizing staff changes facilitates familiarity and camaraderie between caregivers and residents. The goal should be fostering a relationship that puts residents at ease.

Environmental Support

A welcoming, inviting physical environment should facilitate independence, engagement, and safety. Accommodations for the needs of aging residents means minimal obstructions, non-slip flooring, grab bars, and good lighting. At Syncare Memory Suites, our common areas are designed to promote sensory stimulation, while individual rooms are structured to be as familiar and comfortable as home.

Support from the Family

Involving family members is critical from the beginning. Family members should be involved in the development of therapeutic plans and programs, because it’s important that these are designed around the needs, interests, and abilities of their loved one. You are a valuable member of your loved one’s care, and your support and involvement is important.

The Takeaway

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are conditions that require specialized care. Understanding what should be done to transform dementia care principles into best practices can help you find the right level of care for your loved one. If you’re investigating care options, we’re here to help. Contact Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota today.