Health & Wellness Resources


Goldilocks and Memory Care

By: Dr. Cate McCarty


You realize that your loved one may need a new living arrangement. You are no longer able to plug all the holes that dementia has left. Whether you are an adult child, a spouse, a good friend---you are seeing that her needs exceed your capabilities. You have resisted, finding creative stopgap solutions that work for a time and then fail. You set out to find a place that can help. It is this search that requires an objectivity difficult to access. Somehow as you visit assisted living facilities or memory care communities you forget the reality of your loved one’s needs. You see a lovely apartment, compare it to her current house and your mind says, this is good, she will like this. But what you are forgetting is why she needs to move. You are forgetting how she only uses three rooms of her home, and two of those are used ineffectively. She no longer can use even the microwave. You are forgetting how she fell in her own bathroom. You are forgetting that even when you gave her a life alert pendant, she could not remember to use it. 

What is important to know before shopping is what has been shown to be negative for individuals placed in a setting that is not designed, trained and staffed for dementia care. Research shows that individuals with dementia who are mainstreamed in assisted living will experience stigma. 

One family reports moving their dad to Arden Courts after a regular assisted living, "Dad was unable to find the dining room. He ended up isolated, living on cookies and soda. When we asked him why, he said 'those people are too smart for me'."

This same father was sent out for psychological evaluation based on behaviors from his dehydration. The general assisted living did not have staff trained in dementia, dehydration, and the negative impact of isolation. "We picked the apartment over Arden Courts because we felt Dad needed a small kitchen and private bathroom. It took us several hospitalizations before we moved Dad to Arden Courts. Now we realize how much was lost in choosing what we wanted for him instead of what he needed. We feel like Goldilocks, we tried others, but Arden Courts is just right."

The Goldilocks Effect of Arden Courts comes from:

  • A fail-proof design, allowing your loved one the personal space that is ideal for an individual living with dementia as well as the freedom to wander safely and contentedly
  • A higher staffing ratio that is dementia-trained eliminating isolation
  • A higher ratio of medical oversight decreasing hospitalization
  • A state-of-the art program for engagement at all stages of memory loss

Your best defense is a good offense is a saying that applies to memory care.  Take advantage of educational resources like Arden Courts’ seminars, resource library, and support network.  Choose care that is just right for your loved one living with dementia.


By-line: Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s.  Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia.

 Dobbs, D., Eckert, K., Rubinstein, B., Keimig, L., Clark, L., et al.  (2008).  An Ethnographic study of stigma and ageism in residential care or assisted living, The Gerontologist, 48(4):  517-526.