Everything You Need to Know about Memory Care to Best Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

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Find out who can benefit from memory care, what to expect, when it’s needed, how to pay for care, and the right questions to ask.

Everything You Need to Know about Memory Care to Best Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or DementiaThere’s a lot to consider when it comes time to get help in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Equip yourself with the information you need to find the best memory care services —download our eBook today.


Living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is challenging, and caring for a loved one struggling with these conditions can be stressful. Professional care can help relieve the burden on caregivers and improve the quality of life for patients. Assisted living and memory care (also called Alzheimer’s special care units or dementia care) is designed for patients who prefer a communal living environment or require more care than can be provided at home.

Memory care support


Chapter 1: Overview of Memory Care

Overview of memory care

Memory care is specialized treatment for people living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia or a brain injury. As Alzheimer’s disease symptoms progress, a patient will eventually need more care than a caregiver can provide at home.

What is Memory Care and Who Does it Serve?

Memory care involves long-term, intensive residential care that’s provided in a skilled nursing facility with memory care, an assisted living facility, a continuing care retirement community, and a nursing home.  Memory care services should be explored when an individual demonstrates confusion in their daily life; neglects their personal care; shows signs of agitation, aggression, or violence; suffers from social isolation; or faces safety risks, such as falls, injuries in their home environment, or potential to wander and become lost.

Memory care communities provide a secure environment where residents can strengthen their cognitive abilities through specially designed programs. Memory-enhancing activities and therapies can help delay further cognitive decline while addressing patients’ emotional and behavioral needs. The staff in these communities have expertise in handling the many challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and are trained to work with patients who often struggle with Alzheimer’s behavioral symptoms, mood swings, disorientation, and even delirium.

A New Approach to Treatment: How a Memory Care Community Can Help

A memory care community is uniquely designed to support the needs of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The creation of a special community within assisted living memory care facilities provides intensive care for people with memory loss issues in these three ways:

  1. Support

    Comprehensive support is integral to memory care, which is why a memory care community typically provides a low staff-to-resident ratio. Patients are encouraged to be active and generally have access to a range of tailored services. Specialized caregivers can assist with practical activities of daily living, such as dining, bathing, dressing, and toileting.
  2. Structure

    To minimize stress, highly structured routines are built into the day to day of memory care. In addition, the environment itself will incorporate cues to minimize confusion, such as clearly labeled doors and rooms that ease navigation.
  3. Safety

    Memory care facilities provide 24/7 supervision and medication management. This includes measures to help eliminate the likelihood of an individual wandering and becoming lost.

Understanding More About Memory Care Patients

The confusion many people have between Alzheimer’s and dementia care is understandable, as Alzheimer’s is both the most common cause of dementia and one (but not the only) form of dementia. Dementia is the name for a group of brain disorders that make it hard to remember, think clearly, make decisions, or control one’s emotions. Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by damage to brain cells that affects thinking, behavior, and feelings.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: Key Differences

Although Alzheimer’s makes up an estimated 60 to 80 percent of overall dementia cases, it’s not the only form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, while dementia is not. Common signs of Alzheimer’s Disease are similar to signs of dementia in the elderly and include:

  • Being confused about where one is or what day or year it is
  • Having problems speaking or writing
  • Losing things and being unable to backtrack to find them
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Having mood and personality changes

There are many other forms of dementia with different causes and different stages of dementia. The symptoms for those forms of dementia may or may not overlap with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. For example, a vascular dementia diagnosis typically indicates someone has suffered a stroke. Although later symptoms often include memory problems, initial symptoms are more likely to include things such as poor judgment and trouble planning.

Dementia With Lewy bodies (DWB) occurs when Lewy bodies— microscopic protein deposits in the brain—form and impair cognitive function. In addition to the memory loss and decisionmaking challenges found in Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, a Lewy body dementia diagnosis can also be the cause of hallucinations, daytime sleepiness, and physical movement issues, such as trembling or slowness. Patients with Parkinson’s disease have a 50 to 80 percent chance of developing Parkinson’s disease dementia, which is similar to DWB.

Memory care for dementia patients depends on the specific type of dementia a patient is suffering from and the associated symptoms. The good news is that, unlike Alzheimer’s, some forms of dementia may benefit from steps taken to slow the progression of the disease. For example, addressing the underlying cause of the vascular disease may help slow the progression of vascular dementia.

Sundowner’s Syndrome in Patients with Dementia

Sundowner’s syndrome (or sundowning) is the commonly used term for the sudden appearance or worsening of neuropsychiatric symptoms in the late afternoon. Although it can occur in older people without dementia, Sundowner’s Syndrome may affect up to 66% of people with dementia. Doctors are still not sure why Sundowner’s Syndrome occurs, but there are several factors that seem to exacerbate it:

  • Low lighting and shadows in the evening
  • Fatigue, or a disrupted “body clock”
  • Infections, such as a urinary tract infection
  • Excessive hunger or thirst
  • Pain
  • Depression or boredom

Any physical cause that increases the patient’s difficulties in distinguishing dreams from reality can make it more likely for them to experience Sundowner’s Syndrome.

What’s New with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Research?

A combination of risk factors, rather than genetics alone, causes most cases of dementia. That said, there are some forms of dementia where genetics play a key role, and scientists are using that information to search for ways to address the disease, to explore what causes Alzheimer’s Disease, and to uncover methods for Alzheimer’s Disease prevention.

  • Researchers at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University identified 42 new genes connected to Alzheimer’s, many clustered into several suspected but unconfirmed pathways (including the immune system) for disease development. “The new risk variants identified in the present study are significantly associated with progression to Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the study, published in the journal Nature Genetics.
  • At the Boston University School of Medicine, researchers created a computer algorithm based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can accurately predict the risk for and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. The algorithm uses a combination of brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and testing to measure cognitive impairment, along with data on age and gender.
  • Researchers in South Korea studied the effect of using diabetes drugs called DDP-4 inhibitors among older people who’d been having memory issues and found it typically “showed a slower progression in those symptoms over the next few years.” Individuals who took the DDP-4 inhibitors also showed smaller amounts of the “plaques” that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’spatients. However, experts cautioned that the findings do not prove the drugs can prevent or delay dementia.Memory care brain effects
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Aduhelm (aducanumab) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. This is the first FDA-approved therapy to address the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the FDA, “It is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing betaamyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s.”
  • Emerging data has suggested thatpeople who are infected with HSV1 are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But these results should be interpreted cautiously because there is no certainty as to which biological phenomena might be responsible for this connection. According to research, “A biological framework called the “microcompetition model” may explain why people infected with herpes simplex 1 (HSV1) are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
  • At the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers investigated the ability of the MIND diet to improve cognitive function in older adults,independent of brain pathology levels. Some previous studies suggested that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet could improve cognitive function. As a result of the previous research, those two diets have been combined to create a hybrid MIND diet that is specifically designed to improve brain health. Leafy green vegetables, berries, legumes, fish, nuts, and whole grains are the foundation of the MIND diet, which limits the consumption of butter, cheese, and red meat. Summarizing the research’s findings, first study author Dr. Klodian Dhana, Ph.D., said, “We found that a higher MIND diet score was associated with better cognitive function independently of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and other common age-related brain pathologies, suggesting that adherence to the MIND diet may build cognitive resilience in older adults.”
  • Excessive drinking has long been known to correlate with dementia, but the results of a joint study by Inserm and UCL have also shown that moderate drinking (defined as fewer than 14 units of alcohol a week) might have some positive effects on cognitive function. A more recent study concluded that the “findings from middle- and old-aged individuals with neither dementia nor alcohol-related disorders suggest that moderate lifetime alcohol intake may have some beneficial influence on AD by reducing pathological amyloid deposition rather thanamyloidindependent neurodegeneration or cerebrovascular injury.” However, other research indicates that excessive alcohol use increases the risk for health problems relating to the brain, consequently, making the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease higher.

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Chapter 2: Where is Memory Care Provided?

Where is Memory Care Provided?

As the frequency and acuity of symptoms increase over time, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can face many safety challenges. Confusion, memory loss, and poor cognitive function can present serious risks, as routine activities become increasingly difficult in a home environment.

The Importance of a Safe Physical Environment in Memory Care Living

Over time, safety-proofing homes for those living with progressive degenerative memory conditions can become nearly impossible in terms of time, cost, and knowledge. This is why many families choose memory care living to provide better care. Some key elements of a memory care home include: 

  1. Security Features of a Memory Care Home

    Controlled access
    Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are at risk of wandering, so protecting them from becoming lost is critical. As you tour memory care facilities, note if all doors to the building are locked and if any garden areas are gated. Elevators should require passcodes.

    24/7 supervision and alert systemsalert system
    Ask how the facility ensures fast response should a resident need immediate help or become disoriented. High-quality facilities ensure that staff are available 24 hours per day. Also, emergency and nurse call systems should be located throughout the facility. Shared areas and hallways should be equipped with cameras.

    Emergency and evacuation planning

    Emergency situations, such as a fire, present a particular danger for those with signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As the disease progresses, it becomes difficult for individuals to orient themselves during times of stress, and mobility issues are common. Be sure the facility you choose has smoke detectors throughout, a sprinkler system, and easy access to alarmed exits. Also, the memory care facility should regularly conduct safety drills and have procedures in place for how it will safely evacuate residents in case of an emergency.
  2. Medical Resources at a Memory Care Facility

    Many of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will require medical support at some point, whether to manage symptoms or for treating unrelated health conditions. Always ask about the depth and breadth of medical support available.

    A comprehensive medical team
    Licensed nurses and certified nursing assistants should be available around the clock. In addition, a high-quality memory care facility will have a physician who conducts weekly rounds and oversees care plans. Access to therapy services is also important. Some facilities will bring in speech, physical, and occupational therapists to minimize a resident’s need for travel.

    Specialized staffing around how to care for someone with dementia
    Memory care living requires a higher level of supervision than other types of long-term care. The best facilities will have low staff-to-resident ratios. Also, staff members should be trained in ways to anticipate the needs of those with dementia and tactics to de-escalate and avoid potential stressors.

    Medication management
    For optimal safety, medication storage and administration should be carefully controlled. Always ask about procedures to ensure proper medication management and the safe administration of medications.
  3. Daily Activities for Memory Care Living

    When determining how to care for someone with dementia, you should also consider day-to-day physical and social needs.

    Supervised dining
    Ability to obtain proper nutrition is a concern for many dementia patients. In addition to experiencing loss of appetite, an individual may struggle with eating and drinking correctly. Staff should be available to aid with dining and ensure nutritional needs are met.

    Safe showering and bathroom use
    The memory care facility should have a bathroom layout that enables patients to maintain their privacy and independence during personal care while also providing easy access to assistance from staff if needed. Bathrooms should be equipped with grab bars, alarm systems, proper lighting, and non-slip flooring to reduce the risk of injury from falls.

    Social activities and programming
    A structured environment with meaningful memory care activities can help patients reduce stress while avoiding isolation. Facilities also should incorporate activities that can be of special benefit for those with dementia, such as puzzles and word games.

How Memory Care is Unique

A dementia care plan requires a personalized approach. The first step is to assess the resident’s individual capabilities as well as likes and dislikes. When developing a care plan, caregivers will usually address some or all the following:

  • Activities they like and dislike
  • Cognitive ability
  • Friends, family, and community engagementdevelop a plan for memory care
  • Spirituality
  • Sensory impairment
  • Drinking and eating preferences
  • Physical health
  • Personality

Nutrition and exercise needs can also be taken into consideration.

Memory Care Services: Activities and Programming that Can Help

Memory care activities typically includememory care activities speech or art therapy, memory games, inhouse worship services, pet therapy, and more. However, activities don’t always fit neatly into scheduled intervals throughout the day. For example, simple activities like making the bed, tidying up the room, and watering plants can help residents who dislike group activities engage with a task that promotes cognitive function.

Most experts agree that a few guidelines should drive the design of all memory care services.

  • Embrace simplicity.

    The patient’s schedule and routine should be kept simple. This approach eliminates nonessential tasks so that they can concentrate on building purposeful connections and meaningful interactions.
  • Engage residents.

    Casual conversations can be very stimulating for patients with cognitive needs, even beyond scheduled activities.
  • Conduct research.

    Be sure to talk to the patient’s friends and family members when designing memory care services. They can be an invaluable resource by providing insight into the patient’s interests and likes.
  • Involve peer mentors.

    When conducting a group activity, caregivers should combine patients in their early stages with those in further stages of the disease. This type of pairing improves engagement and empowers participants. 
  • Get creative with memory care activities.

    Pet and music therapy are practical ways of getting people to open up and communicate. These dementia care services are especially effective for patients who rarely talk, smile, or engage with other residents.

Memory Care Requirements: What to Expect from Staff and Caregivers

A person-centered assessment is a very important part of your loved one’s memory care home experience. Staff should carry out a holistic assessment of their abilities, limitations, and history; based on this information, a care plan can then be created. The assessment should take inventory of the patient’s physical and cognitive health; their vision, hearing, and other senses; and their ability to make decisions and communicate. Family members should be invited to contribute to the assessment and asked to provide the patient’s medical records.

The assessment is not a stagnant document. Because dementia and Alzheimer’s are progressive conditions, assessments should be updated and re-evaluated periodically.

What memory care requirements and staffing policies should I expect?

Memory care requirements are much more intensive than typical long-term care. As mentioned before, the higher the staff-per-resident ratio, the better your loved one’s needs can be met. The very best institutions offer a ratio of 1:3, which means there is one staff member for every three residents. But be aware that these ratios are based on the day shift—meaning nighttime staffing could be much lower. Another important question to ask is who is counted in the staffing ratio. Some facilities will include non-caregivers, such as cleaners or gardeners, in their ratios. A good staff-to-resident ratio with around-the-clock nurses and certified nursing assistants means a memory care facility can provide high-quality 24/7 supervision and support.


Residents will often require medical intervention. When choosing a care home for dementia, be sure to ask if the facility has a medical director and provides on-staff physicians and psychiatrists, as well as speech, physical, and occupational therapists to address patients’ needs without requiring them to leave the facility. In addition, remember that Alzheimer’s treatment requires stability in a patient’s life. Thus, a high-quality memory care facility will ensure consistency and dementia care training for the staff members who care for your loved one.

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Chapter 3: How Memory Care Provides Support for Patients and Families

How Memory Care Provides Support for Patients and Families

At the right time, moving a loved one to a memory care facility ultimately benefits the patient, family members, and caregivers. The following chapter explores how the right provider can support you as you and your family navigate this journey.

Ways a Memory Care Facility Can Support Family Members

  1. Access the right resources to care for your loved ones with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    Caring for a loved one at home without specialized knowledge or resources will jeopardize the health of the patient with dementia while putting undue strain on the caregiver. A reputable memory care facility employs staff, therapists, and clinicians who know how to treat dementia by implementing a tailored care plan. It also has the expertise and equipment to help slow down the progression of symptoms and improve quality of life.
  2. Avoid risking your own health and wellness.

    Many caregivers struggle with feelings of stress, guilt, anger, sadness, and isolation. Some also suffer from depression. If you have become impatient and irritable or feel that your physical abilities are no longer enough to care for the patient, your own health and well-being could be at risk. For example, lifting a patient in and out of bed can result in injury to the caregiver and the patient. Staff at a memory care facility, however, will be trained in proper lift techniques and have physical aids to minimize risks.
  3. Get the support of a memory care community.

    Taking care of a loved one at home can be a lonely endeavor. Not only is isolation detrimental to the patient, but it can strain the caregiver’s mental wellness. Facilities that offer a memory care community provide a nurturing environment where patients’ families interact with and support each other. Additionally, a reputable memory care facility will ensure that family members are involved in the patient’s care. To help you navigate the transition, they will offer family support and educational programs and provide the appropriate support as your loved one’s health condition changes.
  4. Regain control of your work and life.

    As late-stage Alzheimer’s symptoms progress, so does the amount of time required to care for the patient. If your career, finances, or relationships are suffering because you can’t devote the time and energy to caregiving responsibilities, it’s time to get help. Getting the support of a senior living memory care facility can help you lighten the load and refocus on yourself—the foundation you need to care for others in your life.

Alzheimer’s Memory Care: Types of Support for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Support Groups

online support groupMade up of fellow Alzheimer’s caregivers, support groups provide a non-judgmental environment in which caregivers can express their feelings with people who understand one another’s experiences. You can find a complete listing of groups. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers an online support group, for caregivers who would struggle to get to an in-person meeting.

Legal Support

Alzheimer’s sufferers will eventually lack the legal capacity to make decisions about their care or manage their own finances. Caregivers will face critical decisions once their loved ones are no longer independent, such as, “when should dementia patients go into care.” An attorney who specializes in elder law can advise on issues such as seeking power of attorney, legal guardianship, or a living will. Elder law specialists can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website.

At-Home Support Services

Homecare services can be as comprehensive as a full-care service, such as overnight stays, or as simple as a professional who provides a caregiver an hour’s break a few times a week. Of course, any home support service should be carefully vetted—seek advice on questions to ask before signing a home support agreement. If all that you need is some help providing meals for your loved one, consider contacting a meal service provider.

Daytime Services for Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Adult day care services provide a safe setting for people whose disabilities make them unable to care for themselves. These centers can also provide brain-stimulating activities that help with memory care. For advice on selecting a center and a list of centers in your area, visit the National Adult Day Services Association website.

How to Care for Someone with Dementia: 5 Tips for Loved Ones

Caring for a family member with dementia, whether at home or at a memory care center, may seem like a daunting challenge. Memory care professionals recommend the following strategies to help you care for your loved ones.

  1. Recognize the stages of dementia in the elderly.

    Many caregivers find that the more they understand about the disease, the greater their compassion for their loved ones who are suffering through it, whether they have early Alzheimer’s symptoms or are in the final stages of dementia. Therefore, the critical, initial step for caregivers is to read medical literature and research the condition. Learning often helps people differentiate between the effects of the disease and the person inside the disease.
  2. Adjust your own behavior.

    As your knowledge about how to care for someone with dementia grows, you’ll learn how a positive, affectionate approach is the most constructive way to interact. Distraction and redirection are important tools in your arsenal. Pay attention to what makes your loved one light up, and then use those distractions when difficult situations arise. Your communication patterns can also make a difference. For example, the more you respond to outbursts or depression with patience, respectfulness, and empathy, the more positive outcomes you’ll enjoy.
  3. Control the environment.

    One way to ensure positive and comfortable interactions with your loved one with Alzheimer’s is to control external factors that can upset them or place them in danger. For example, limit their access to kitchen appliances and exit doors to minimize risk. It’s also important to minimize disruptive events when you’re visiting a family member with dementia. Having a loud television in the background or being surrounded by large groups can make a person feel uncomfortable. The Family Caregiver Alliance Control recommends reducing noise, clutter, and visitor traffic to avoid overwhelming your loved one.
  4. Include brain-building memory care activities.

    Although there is no cure for dementia, you can take steps to protect a relative’s brain health. In fact, Daily Caring reminds us that brain-building activities can slow progression, minimize symptoms, and improve overall quality of life. As discussed earlier, daily activities such as exercising, spending time in nature, engaging in routine tasks, and working on art projects should be built into a care plan for elderly with dementia. Another great way to keep a patient’s memory alive is to reminisce with them. Adults with dementia may forget what they did 10 minutes ago; however, they can often recall moments or stories from their past. Look through scrapbooks and keep a recorder nearby to capture those stories.dementia support
  5. Arrange a support team to develop a care plan for elderly with dementia.

    In addition to creating a support team for your relative, remember that you will also need a team to support you. This team could include alternate caretakers, an attorney, family members, and a support group composed of other individuals who are caring for loved ones with dementia. You might also find rewarding benefits from individual or family therapy. Therapy gives you a safe place to vent, receive professional support, and learn how to cope with the effects of dementia.

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Chapter 4: How to Know When Memory Care is Needed

How to Know When Memory Care is Needed

Today’s memory care facilities have improved radically, offering high levels of care that maximize the patient’s quality of life. Even so, deciding whether a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia should go to a memory care facility can be extraordinarily difficult. Caregivers may feel guilty or anxious about placing a loved one in an assisted living home. They may even feel that they are taking the easy way out or letting the patient down.

When Should Your Loved One Go to a Memory Care Facility?

As you contemplate your options, consider the following questions:

How far have symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia progressed?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, and patients at the beginning stages of dementia may need only minimal care. If they are not placing themselves at risk, patients with moderate Alzheimer’s can manage day-to-day activities and are able to take basic care of themselves with some family or outside caregiver support. However, eventually the disease will progress so that full-time care at a long-term memory care facility may be the best or only alternative.

Can I realistically offer a dementia care plan at home?

There are several factors that affect whether you can realistically offer home care:

  • How much support does the patient need?
    The amount of support needed depends on the stage of Alzheimer’s, but also the patient’s specific Alzheimer’s symptoms. In addition to turning to the patient’s physician, you can also consult the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides a useful online guide.
  • Is family support available?
    If several committed family members can assist during the day and overnight when needed, then a long-term memory care facility may not be necessary; otherwise, it should be considered.
  • Can I afford paid home help?
    According to the Alzheimer’s Association, paid in-home care costs around $20 per hour, which adds up quickly when 24-hour care is needed. One option is to combine family support with brief home visits or respite care and adult day centers, which provide family caregivers a break. Alternatively, if a loved one needs more support but is not ready for a long-term care facility, retirement housing or assisted living offer viable alternatives.
  • Am I emotionally able to cope?
    The risk of caregiver depression is very real in people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Although caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be rewarding, it is also demanding, stressful, and unrelenting. Because it also requires a significant time commitment, it can limit your opportunities for socializing, enjoying leisure time, spending time with other family, or committing to your other work.

Is my loved one as safe at home as they would be at an Alzheimer’s memory care facility?

Alzheimer’s disease can cause sufferers to put themselves at risk. For example, they leave pans on the stovetop or slip and fall. Although there are ways to make the home safer, with the onset of late-stage Alzheimer’s symptoms, you may feel that your loved one would be more secure in long-term care.

If you are not physically strong enough to care for the patient as they become more physically dependent on you, you may not be able to protect them from falls or safely lift them up. Furthermore, some Alzheimer’s sufferers develop aggressive behaviors that could put others around them at risk. Or, if they are living together with family members, the patient’s forgetful behavior could cause harm to their co-habitants.

Does my loved one have a healthy, structured routine at home?

A consistent, structured daily routine that includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and mental and social stimulation is very important for Alzheimer’s patients. If you work long hours or depend on support from family members who cannot commit to regular hours, the patient’s routine may be frequently disrupted, which is not ideal.

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Chapter 5: Paying for Memory Care

Paying for Memory Care

The cost of dementia care depends on the stage of the individual’s condition and the level of care required, the patient’s preferences, and the family’s financial, emotional, and time resources.

How Much Does Memory Care Cost?

On average, the cost of memory care facilities in the U.S. is about $6,935 per month, which is more than the average cost of assisted living ($5,380) but much less than a nursing home ($10,562.) Costs also vary state by state. For example, residential memory care costs $3,800 in Hawaii but is more than $7,000 in Vermont.

Although most families will have to pay some amount out of pocket, Medicaid and Medicare generally will cover room and board in certified long-term care facilities and nursing homes as well as medical expenses. However, that coverage varies by state. Patients must also meet specific criteria to be eligible. States with better-funded programs may offer more extensive coverage.

Another tip to reduce the cost of memory care is to take the “preemptive strike”—people who visit their doctors regularly tend to get diagnosed earlier. They have more time to weigh their options, manage the progression of their conditions, and find a long-term solution that meets their needs.

Memory Care Facilities That Accept Medicaid: FAQs Answered

Does Medicaid pay for memory care facilities?

Many states have assisted living waivers, which extend Medicaid coverage so that seniors can receive long-term care in settings other than nursing homes. Depending on your state, Medicaid benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia may cover care provided at home, adult day care centers, assisted living or memory care facilities, adult foster care, and nursing homes.

Does Medicaid cover long-term memory care?

Medicare pays for some services—including hospital stays, cognitive assessments, care planning, and home safety evaluations—at various stages of dementia care. Medicare Part D also helps pay for prescription medications for dementia services.

In the early stages of dementia, Medicare pays for up to 35 hours per week of home health care for homebound seniors while Medicaid can be used to help pay for in-home care or adult daycare centers. In the later stages of dementia, Medicare usually covers the first 20 days of a patient’s nursing home stay but Days 21 through 100 typically require an out-of-pocket copay. Coverage approval and co-pay amounts depend on the Medicare program the patient is enrolled in.

After 100 days, patients can use Medicaid, their personal resources, or a combination of the two to cover nursing home care. Medicare also pays for hospice, covering medical and personal care, prescription drugs, and counseling for patients and their families. Other waiver programs are diagnosisspecific (for example, mental disability) or service-specific (for example, technology assistance). But if the patient also has Alzheimer’s or dementia, the services are still available.

What Other Possible Pay Sources Can I Use for Memory Care Services?

insurance memory care

Beyond Medicare and Medicaid, you can consult Medicaid’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) for other potential resources. Those eligible for Social Security Income (SSI) may apply for the Optional State Supplement (OSS) to help pay for memory care. The Personal Choices Program offers more flexibility than the E&D Waiver, while the PACE program focuses on community-based care. The Veterans Affairs Department (VA) offers resources for veterans.

Another option is long-term care insurance, which provides payment based on the number of days spent in a nursing home. You can also tap into other disability resources (e.g., insurance programs from previous employers) or draw on social security or Medicare early.

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Chapter 6: Choosing a Memory Care Facility

Choosing a Memory Care Facility

Even when you’ve done your research, selecting the right memory care services for your loved one can be daunting. How can you evaluate your options to make the right choice? Touring facilities and meeting with the staff to inquire about memory care services is one of the best ways to know if you’re making the best choice.

What to Expect From Memory Care Services: Questions to Ask During a Facility Visit

  1. What security methods and safety features are available?

    As discussed earlier, safety is a critical concern for dementia patients. All memory care facilities should have the appropriate technologies and features to help prevent accidents and injuries. This includes motion sensors and automatic lights, low-grab handrails, and emergency call buttons. The facility also should provide around-the-clock supervised care by qualified medical professionals and have an emergency alert system to monitor all residents. There should be alarms on emergency exits, safety locks on outdoor fences, and secured or interior placement for courtyards.
  2. How do you devise and maintain a dementia care plan?

    Because every dementia patient and their needs are unique, staff at a memory care facility should conduct an initial assessment to understand the patient’s needs and develop a personalized care plan. Since dementia is a progressive condition, the facility should evaluate the dementia care plan regularly (e.g., every two to three months) with input from nurses, family members, medical staff, and executive directors. Ask how the facility manages changes in care plans to ensure that they continue to support the patient’s conditions.
  3. Are your staff trained specifically to care for dementia patients?

    Be sure to inquire if the facility’s staff members meet your state’s training and certification requirements. Ask how they handle and prevent challenging behaviors, such as resisting care, anger, and aggression as well as the techniques they use in those situations. Their answers will help you determine if the facility’s philosophy of dementia care is aligned with your expectations. As discussed earlier, staff ratios are an important aspect of dementia care so learn about the facility’s assignment practices.

Memory Care at Alzheimer’s Care Facilities: 5 Things You Should Keep in Mind

  1. A memory care facility for Alzheimer’s patients isn’t “taking the easy way out.”

    You may feel obligated to care of your loved one and consequently, wrestle with guilt over your decision to seek full-time care. Although the decision to move your family member to a facility may be very difficult, it can still be a favorable decision.
  2. Alzheimer’s residents don’t have to sacrifice their independence in a memory care program.

    Many memory care facilities offer care that is targeted to the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, based on how the individual is progressing. Staff assists with any tasks your loved one can no longer do alone, from driving or cooking, while ensuring that they are comfortable and well cared for.
  3. A memory care facility places a high priority on safety.memory care facility

    By now, you know that safety hazards pose a major risk for an Alzheimer’s patient getting hurt at home. As committed as you may be, caretakers can’t be available to intercept every unsafe circumstance. Alzheimer’s care facilities, on the other hand, are designed with safety measures that relieve some of the burden of safekeeping on the caretakers.
  4. Healthcare is available around the clock at memory care centers.

    If your loved one awakens with trouble in the middle of the night or needs wound dressings changed, a qualified staff member with specialized Alzheimer’s training is always available to assist. This means that in a medical emergency, the Alzheimer’s patient is in the best place to get help.
  5. Sending your loved one to a memory care facility doesn’t have to mean missing family time together.

    You may feel like you are sacrificing time with your loved one when you move them from their home to an Alzheimer’s facility. But memory care staff wants you to spend as much time with your loved one as possible. To that end, facilities schedule seasonal events and make special arrangements for patients and their families. With the Alzheimer’s facility in charge of your loved one’s care, the pressure of full-time caretaking is lifted so that you can fully enjoy each other’s company when you are together.

Memory Care at Dementia Care Facilities: 5 Things You Should Keep in Mind

  1. Memory care involves more than just memory problems.

    Dementia is not only about memory loss. Therefore, memory care programs that address a range of functional deficits are most effective. In addition to experiencing forgetfulness, dementia patients often demonstrate changes in the way they think, speak, perceive things, feel, and behave. Memory care services should incorporate chances for patients to work with speech therapists to improve cognitive and speech functions.
  2. Effective security for memory care patients goes beyond providing a safe physical environment.

    Security for memory care patients must go further than ensuring patients cannot leave unattended. To identify the root cause of the behavior, caregivers must determine why a patient is prone to wander. For example, the patient may wander as a reaction to a noisy environment, distress, boredom, or other causes. A well-designed memory care program ensures that every aspect that affects safety is thoroughly examined.
  3. The design of a memory care facility is more important than you think.

    Design firms now recognize that large spaces can create confusion and distraction for dementia patients. Therefore, long-term memory care facilities should provide options for various group sizes and more intimate settings. To reduce stress for patients, the design should include an intuitive building layout, visual cues for directions, and distinctive landmarks.
  4. Nutritional care for memory care patients requires special planning.

    As dementia progresses, it can result in missed meals, erratic eating patterns, and, eventually, an inability to consume food independently. Memory care services that can reinforce mealtime engagement staffed by actively engaged caregivers have a better chance of staving off some of these problems. Simple accommodations can be provided to ease the stress of dining; for example, using smaller plates or offering small meals more frequently.
  5. Memory care programs can be strengthened by family involvement.

    One survey found that 42% of people believe that there is no point in maintaining contact with a family member who has late-stage dementia. However, this is simply untrue. Dementia patients still have emotional memory and are able to recall how an event made them feel, even if the details of the event have escaped them. Memory care facilities can host families at dinners, arts and crafts events, or therapy sessions. When residents strengthen connections with their loved ones, they build up their “bank account” of positive experiences.

Memory Care at Assisted Living Facilities in Alabama

If your family is struggling with how to best care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it can be a difficult time. You may want to speak with experts to discuss your options. At Rehab Select, we have staff that are specially trained to provide the kind of safety precautions that can safeguard those experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. At our five long-term care locations in Alabama, we provide 24-hour supervision and care, as well as Wanderguard monitoring for optimum security. Our staff are trained to care for patients’ physical well-being, and also their emotional and mental needs. Our memory care services include structure interactive programming tailored to each individual’s interests and abilities. If you feel a skilled nursing facility that offers memory care may be right for you, we encourage you to book a tour or contact us to learn more about our Alabama memory care services.

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