Pathway to Living Blog

Return To Blog

Cognitive Impairment and Your Loved One’s Environment

Cognitive Impairment and Your Loved One’s Environment

You may notice that Mom’s housekeeping routine isn't to par or that Dad is not on top of the monthly bills. When a parent is no longer able to age their best on their own at home, it may be time to explore other living options.

Moving is a big deal for most older adults, so, with the help of their families, they want to make the best choice for today and tomorrow to avoid having to move again in the future.

In her role as Executive Director of the assisted living community Brookstone Estates of Tuscola, Kayce Hanscel meets with many older adults and their families who are at the critical juncture of deciding if a move to assisted living is the right choice.

Besides finding a community that meets their loved one’s current wants and needs, family members are often concerned about what happens if Mom’s needs should change, and more specifically, what if she develops memory impairment while living in assisted living.

According to Hanscel, assisted living can not only support healthy cognitive aging, but if memory should decline, a team of caregivers who personally knows the resident is in the best position to provide continued care while supporting independence.

“We don’t have a crystal ball, but should Mom start to become forgetful, studies show that the less change to her environment and the more adherence to a routine, the less confusing and better off she will be,” said Hanscel.

In the best-case scenario, an assisted living lifestyle can support residents’ current cognitive needs as well as adjust to accommodate any memory decline, so residents can live comfortably and safely at the same, familiar community for their lifetime. However, there may also be a time that a specialized dementia neighborhood is necessary. In that circumstance, the community's team will help the family through the process of selecting and transitioning into a memory support community that best meets their needs.

Six Ways to Stay Cognitively Sharp in Assisted Living

  1. Stick to a Routine – Assisted living caregivers take time to learn each resident’s routines to help him or her stick to a personal schedule, so each residents knows what to expect each day—from waking in the morning to bedtime rituals and all the time in between.
  2. Create a Home-like Space – The assisted living suite should feel like home. To promote comfort and familiarity, bring furnishings from home and arrange the furniture as similar to home as possible and decorate with beloved family photos, artwork and knick-knacks.
  3. Socialize– Spending time with others promotes brain health, and fortunately in assisted living, there’s likely a friendly neighbor to share a meal in the dining room, chat with over coffee, build a puzzle together in the library or join you on a trip into town.
  4. Play Games – Keep the mind sharp and have fun by trying your hand at something new such as Wii tennis or enjoy a more traditional pastime such as cards or checkers with neighbors.
  5. Stay Active – Keep moving to oxygenate your brain by joining a walking club, taking a fitness class offered by the community such as tai chi or chair yoga or physical therapy in the fitness room.
  6. Relax – Remaining calm, cool and collected helps you think more clearly, so kick back and relax in one of the assisted living’s cozy indoor or outdoor spaces and enjoy any comfortable amenities the community may offer such as a library, fireplace or courtyard.

To find a Pathway to Living community near you, visit