5 Essential Skills for the Caregiver


Being a caregiver for a loved one isn’t always easy, but at the same time, it can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Millions of Americans provide unpaid care to someone in their lives — a family member, friend, or neighbor — which means actively putting someone else’s needs first to help ensure their safety, health, and well-being. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we intimately understand the importance of the caregiver role. It’s a role that often takes practice, and if it’s a job you’ve taken on, here are our tips for mastering the five essential caregiver skills.

Effective Communication

The biggest key to a successful caregiving role is communication. Being able to communicate well with whomever you are providing help will ensure that you can provide the level of care they need. That includes being a good listener, avoiding raising your voice simply because someone is older, avoiding speaking too quickly, and ensuring that you’re using clear, simple language. Good communication skills don’t always come naturally, but you can work on improving yours by asking questions, paying careful attention when your loved one speaks, being clear and concise, and practicing or developing the remaining five essential skills outlined below.


It’s normal to feel frustrated at times in a caregiver’s role. But practicing patience is important for everyone involved. No one deserves to be treated in a condescending manner, and reminding yourself to slow down and breathe can be helpful. Remind yourself that your loved one isn’t being deliberately difficult, and that they deserve your patience and respect in every interaction. It’s not alway easy, but it’s the right approach.


It’s easy to develop empathy for someone else when you take the time to consider life from their perspective. What sorts of limitations and challenges do they face on a daily basis? What must that be like for them? Shifting your perspective in this way often helps improve the quality of care and the amount of time you can make for your loved one.


A positive outlook can improve almost any situation, and it’s often contagious. Staying optimistic and focusing on the good things leads to much better care for you and your loved one. It’s not always easy, but committing to optimism is a habit that gets easier the more you do it.

Observation Skills & Body Language

High-quality caregiving requires keen observation skills. It’s important to read the situation so you can understand how your loved one is feeling, and that often includes taking cues from body language. Sometimes, body language will be the only clue you have into how your loved one is feeling. Pay attention to nonverbal cues to being building your powers of observation.

Next Steps

The caregiver role is incredibly fulfilling when you understand its importance — making life better, easier, and happier for someone else. Developing the skills we’ve outlined here will make your role as a caregiver easier and more rewarding. If you have questions, we’re here to help. Contact Syncare Memory Suites today, and let’s discuss the difference an experienced caregiver can make in the life of your loved one.

What Does “Memory Care” Mean?

Family members who are exploring different kinds of care options for their loved ones inevitably start seeing references to memory care. Here at Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we know it’s important to understand all of the facts so that you can make the best decisions for your loved one. When it comes to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, memory care is often the best decision. Here’s what to know about memory care so you can decide if it’s right for your loved one.

Comfort, Support, and Safety

Memory care is a unique kind of care for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. A structured environment includes schedules and routines in place to help facilitate a lifestyle that is engaging, safe, and free of stress, while also cultivating remaining cognitive skills.

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and dementia is a decline in cognition. For a family caregiver, that often means ensuring a safe, secure environment and full-time, hands-on care. It’s not always possible to devote this level of time and attention to a loved one, no matter how badly you may wish you could. Memory care homes are designed to accommodate these special needs. 

Additionally, memory care works to simultaneously improve a resident’s quality of life while also helping slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. With highly trained staff, cutting edge resources, and an individual focus on the resident, the lifestyle at a private memory care home is carefully cultivated to help your loved one feel a sense of purpose and enjoyment.

The Syncare Difference

Here at Syncare, we offer individualized engagement with our residents through activities including yoga, dance, social events, fitness classes, memory games, brain fitness exercises, and much more. It’s underscored by a wholesome, locally-sourced food program with meals that are carefully planned for optimal nutrition. And it’s our fully trained staff that really is the heart of our home.

Familiarity is an important aspect of a memory care home where residents can thrive, and our home really does feel like home. It’s also been carefully designed for the safety needs of seniors with memory loss, all while feeling beautiful and welcoming. For more information about how Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota can help your loved one, contact us today. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.

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, alzheimers.net 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.

5 Tips for Discussing Dementia Symptoms with a Loved One


It’s difficult watching parents or loved ones age. But if you’re wondering whether some behaviors aren’t related to aging but to specific conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be even harder. Unfortunately, ignoring the situation won’t help. As uncomfortable as it may seem, a frank conversation is best for everyone. The sooner you understand the reality of your loved one’s condition, the sooner you and your loved one can make plans for the future. At Syncare Memory suites in Minnesota, we understand the challenge of this scenario. Here are our five tips for discussing dementia symptoms with a loved one.

Don’t Wait

It’s important to have this conversation soon after your suspicions arise. It may feel rushed, but reacting quickly gives your loved one the greatest chance of having a voice in what’s to come.

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan how you’ll begin the conversation, and consider practicing what you’d like to say. It can be helpful to ask whether they’ve noticed specific changes in their own behavior, whether they’ve given any thought to long-term care planning, or whether they’d be open to hearing your thoughts about changes you’ve noticed.

Consider Who Should Be Involved

This conversation may be more effective if someone else is involved. If your loved one has a particularly close family member or friend, consider the value of their presence. Your loved one may feel more open to the conversation if they understand your concerns are shared with someone they trust.

Be Realistic about the Challenges of the Conversation

Discussing the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia isn’t an easy conversation, and you should recognize that your loved one may be defensive or even angry. If your loved one isn’t amenable to the discussion, follow their lead and plan to resume the conversation at another time. If your loved one refuses to discuss your concerns, consider asking a medical professional to step in.

Be Supportive

This can be a highly charged conversation, and it’s normal for your loved one to feel frightened or overwhelmed. Let them know you’re here to offer support now and into the future. This kind of reassurance can go a long way.

The Takeaway

A formal diagnosis gives you a direction, and involving your loved one at the earliest possible stage means giving them the opportunity to be involved in important decisions. It’s not easy, but it really is the best approach for everyone. For more information about seeking a diagnosis or specialized memory care for your loved one, contact Syncare Memory Suites today.

3 Helpful Tips for Choosing Between Assisted Living and Home Care

Coming to the decision that a loved one needs assistance is difficult. Unfortunately, the decision making is really just beginning. Recognizing that help is necessary is the first of many choices to be made, and one of the biggest relates to where your loved one will live. To make that process a little less overwhelming, the professionals at Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota are sharing their expertise. Here are three tips for choosing between assisted living and home care.

Level of Care

One of the best places to begin is by determining how much help your loved one will need. It’s important to be realistic both about what’s needed in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly care, and how much of that care can be handled by family. Writing down specifics about your loved one’s needs and what that will mean in terms of care is a useful way to truly grasp what’s needed. Make notes about who can be responsible for what, and you’ll quickly see whether home care will be possible, or if assisted living is a more realistic solution.

Care Option Differences

There are a variety of home care and assisted living options, and your search should involve options that are specific to the needs of your loved one. If he or she has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, tailoring your search to homes that specialize in this level of care will save you time and aggravation. Consider the severity of your loved one’s condition, and what that means for day-to-day living. Read more about private memory care homes, and what sets them apart from traditional assisted living facilities.

It’s also useful to understand the basic differences between home care and any kind of assisted living.

  • Home care involves a caregiver who comes into the home of your loved one to offer services specific to his or her needs. This could include daily tasks like bathing, preparing meals, using the bathroom or shower, transportation, or other tasks. Prices will vary widely depending on the caregiver’s duties, and this option tends to require a hands-on approach from family. Things like home maintenance and housekeeping will still be necessary, and modifications for considerations like wheelchair accessibility may be needed.

  • Assisted living means your loved one would move to a new home with round-the-clock care. There will be other seniors, and living arrangements may involve roommates, private rooms, or small apartments. Services like meals, housekeeping, group activities, and transportation would likely be included in the monthly fee.


 Balancing the costs of assisted living or home care against what you or your loved one can afford to spend is the kind of financial planning that takes some work, but is well worth the effort. Once you’ve started making early (even tentative) decisions about home care versus assisted living, it’s a good idea to start reaching out for pricing information. You need to understand the true costs of both options in your area, and the best way to do that is by speaking directly to the people offering these services. It may also be worth a visit to an accountant or financial advisor to determine the right budget.

Next Steps

These are complicated decisions that shouldn’t be made lightly. Spending time researching your options and considering the unique needs of your loved ones will help ensure that you make the best decision for everyone. Here in Minnesota, Syncare Memory Suites is a private home offering specialized memory care for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you’re interested in learning more, we invite you to contact us today.

4 Tips for Helping a Loved One Settle Into Private Memory Care

From a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia to choosing the perfect home to finally moving your loved one in, there are so many hurdles in this journey. But while moving day itself can feel like some kind of finish line, it’s really just the beginning of a new phase of life. Follow these four tips from the professionals at Syncare Memory Suites, a private memory care home in Minnesota, to help your loved one settle into their new home as seamlessly as possible.

Be Present

It’s not unusual for your loved one to need a few months to fully adjust to their new environment, and your presence will help. Regular visits can help your loved one settle into new schedules and routines in their new surroundings. It’s important to consult with your loved one’s care team to coordinate productive times for visits, so don’t hesitate to ask for direction. The goal should be reassuring your loved one with consistent visits — it will contribute to their sense of stability and help them feel calmer and more confident about this new experience.

Encourage Involvement

Private memory care homes like Syncare offer specialized activities to engage their residents, and it’s helpful if family members are encouraging and excited for their loved ones to participate. If there are special guests or presentations, make a point of being there to participate yourself. Family participation is always encouraged in a community like Syncare, so engage and interact with your loved one’s fellow residents. Be a positive role model for your loved one — help them become more comfortable and familiar with staff and residents alike. This kind of participation and involvement in the community goes a long way.

Practice Positivity

Emotions can run high when you move a loved one into a private memory care home. You’ve made the right decision for the right reasons, but it’s still an emotional experience. Do your best to stay positive when you visit your loved one. A relaxed, upbeat energy will serve your loved one far more, no matter what kind of day they seem to be having, so remember to be optimistic. It can be helpful to remind yourself why a move like this is not only necessary, but truly the best decision. Keep in mind that the first few months are often challenging, and that things will improve with time.

Be Prepared for Bad Days

It can be hard for family members when a loved one asks to go home, or complains about another resident, or is upset about something in their new home. Still, these kinds of days should be expected. Adjusting to a new place takes time, and feeling some degree of anxiety or emotional discomfort is a normal part of the process. Remember to stay positive, reassure your loved one, and reach out to caregivers for guidance and direction.

The Takeaway

A transition to memory care for a loved one is a wonderful time to practice patience and to extend yourself a little bit of grace. It’s not an easy process for either of you, but these tips can help smooth the way. Your loved one’s care team should also have specific advice that will help your love done, so don’t hesitate to ask. In Minnesota, Syncare Memory Suites can answer your questions about private memory care — call 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.

10 Questions to Ask When You Consider Memory Care Communities


When a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, families are often faced with difficult decisions. One of the biggest decisions is often related to a timeline – when will we know it’s time for a memory care community? The important question to answer is how much assistance your loved one really needs, and whether that can be realistically provided at home. If it’s clear that a memory care community is the best option, the next question looms – how do you find the right home? Syncare Memory Suites understands how daunting this task is, and we’re sharing 10 questions you should ask when you consider memory care communities.

Start Here

Before you begin touring homes, take time to truly assess your loved one. Considering his or her needs, abilities, and preferences will help you narrow down your search. Your assessment should include:

  • Mobility – Can your loved one walk without assistance, or is a wheelchair, walker, or hands-on assistance necessary?
  • Ability – Is your loved one independently functioning? How much assistance is needed for daily living practices such as eating, grooming, bathing, and using the bathroom?
  • Cognition – Does your loved one display unsafe or negative symptoms of dementia, like aggression, inappropriate sexual behavior, wandering, hallucinations, or sundowning?
  • Medications – Does your loved one have chronic illnesses or ongoing medical treatments that must be managed?

Narrowing the Search

If you’re fortunate to have a number of memory care communities to consider, keep in mind that location should be key to your final decision. It’s not just a logistical consideration, although staying close does make the physical move easier. Proximity to your loved one ensures he or she will be more regularly exposed to familiar faces. Even as memories fade, staying close and involved with your loved one in the memory home community makes a big difference.

Your answers to the questions posed above will help you make a decision about an appropriate level of care, living arrangements, and type of community. Once you’ve created a short list of three to five options, it’s time to schedule tours. Of course, more questions may arise as you visit, and your personal circumstances will dictate the information you need. 

Use these 10 questions as a starting point, and do your best to take note of the replies so that you can fairly compare communities.

  1. How is the admission process determined?
  2. Does the community offer any kind of assessment?
  3. What kinds of therapies are offered?
  4. What kinds of care services are not included?
  5. Explain the communication process. How are families updated on a resident’s care?
  6. What are the home’s policies regarding medical emergencies?
  7. Is there any kind of discharge policy?
  8. How are fees structured?
  9. How would you describe living and dining arrangements?
  10. How are transition stages managed?

As you visit, pay attention to the residents, the staff, and the community. Ideally, you’ll see staff interacting with residents respectfully and with patience and care. Do residents appear engaged and accommodated? Are they able to move about the community, in and out of outdoor spaces in a way that is safely monitored? Does the home appear well maintained and easy to navigate? Are there any unpleasant odors or noises? What’s your gut feeling? Consider the home’s personal care philosophy – do you see evidence that it rings true?

The Takeaway

Finding the right memory care community for your loved one isn’t easy, and it’s normal to have many questions. At Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we understand the task you must face, and we’re here to help. If you have questions about specialized memory care home like ours, or about memory care communities in general, 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.