- Memory Care Basics
- Signs That It’s Time for Memory Care
- Memory Care Costs
- What to Look for When Choosing a Memory Care Community
The frequency of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is increasing as the older population grows. According to the Alexi Senior Living, more than 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, with that figure expected to rise to 14 million by 2050. More than 16 million Americans give unpaid care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, yet the task becomes more difficult and potentially dangerous as the disease develops.
While family members and close friends may typically care for their loved ones during the early stages of the illness, it is often safer for the senior to move to a residential care community as the illness worsens. In fact, according to the CDC, half of all people in long-term care homes have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Many families choose a memory care residence for their loved one because of the increased safety and specialized care provided by skilled caregivers. In addition to ensuring residents’ safety, the communities try to create a welcoming and appealing environment in which they can enjoy a good quality of life. If you or a loved one is considering memory care, this guide will help you better understand what it is, how much it costs, and how to choose the best option for your loved one.
Memory Care Fundamentals
Residential communities for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia are known as memory care centers. Only residents with memory impairment are accepted into dedicated memory care homes, and every component of the community, from activities to facility structure, is purposefully designed to support those with cognitive problems.
Memory care communities provide similar levels of personal care to assisted living communities, but with added safety features to accommodate the needs of persons with memory impairment. Memory care workers are also professionally trained to work with patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and they may have additional credentials such as nursing certifications. The specific training is designed to keep residents safe and happy while also providing them with the best quality of life possible.
Memory Care’s Advantages
The specially designed atmosphere and care provided in memory care facilities can be quite beneficial to seniors with dementia. Some of the most important advantages are detailed here.
- Caregivers who are well-informed: Caregivers in memory care communities must receive further training than those in assisted living communities. They will be better able to satisfy the specific needs of those who suffer from memory loss because of the training.
- Collaborative Care Planning: Memory care patients’ families collaborate with community personnel, usually a nurse or physician, to establish and update care plans for their loved ones. Because the needs of elders with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can vary fast, professional support with care planning can be quite beneficial to family members.
- Memory Care Activities and Entertainment: Memory care activities and entertainment are designed to be cognitively stimulating for persons with memory impairment. Reminiscence therapy, puzzles, and music groups are all possible options.
- Improved Safety: Memory care communities have improved safety features such as community-wide emergency alert systems and 24-hour security to safeguard the safety of seniors who are prone to wandering and mobility issues.
- Behavioral Support: Dementia patients are more likely to experience mood disorders, aggressiveness, or fast mood swings. Memory care communities may provide counselling to assist residents’ well-being, and staff are trained to work with persons who suffer from the mood problems that are frequent among seniors living with dementia.
Services for Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory care services are targeted to the needs of persons who suffer from memory loss. Because Alzheimer’s and dementia can manifest in a variety of forms and stages, memory care communities offer a wide range of services to assist people in the middle to late stages of memory loss.
Some of the services provided in memory care facilities include:
- ADL and other personal care duties assistance
- Specialized activity programming
- Emergency monitoring and care
- Transportation services
- Housekeeping and interior and outdoor upkeep
- Meal preparation and eating assistance as needed
- Care planning and coordination
It’s worth noting that memory care communities don’t always provide high-quality medical treatment. Instead, the level of care provided is more like to that of an assisted living facility, with additional safeguards in place to accommodate the requirements of elders with dementia. A nursing home is better suitable for patients who require regular care from a physician or certified nurse, such as those with chronic or fatal illnesses.
Signs It’s Time to Seek Memory Care
Making the decision to move a senior into residential memory care can be difficult for them and their families. During the early stages of the illness, many family caregivers provide unpaid care, but when symptoms worsen, it’s typically a sign that the person would be best served in a residential facility. Here are some things to think about while choosing whether it’s time to move into a residential memory care facility.
- Is it necessary to have full-time supervision? A resident who requires greater monitoring may do better in a memory care community than at home since memory care communities have employees on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Does the senior require assistance with most or all their daily activities? If this is the case, it’s probably time to consider memory care. Keep in mind that most dementias worsen over time, so most persons who require assistance now will require more as time goes on.
- Is the individual able to express his or her wants and requirements to family and friends? A memory care community may be the best alternative if the answer is no. A person’s safety in a private residence may be jeopardized if they are unable to speak. Staff in memory care facilities are trained to interact with residents who may be unable to communicate clearly and are better suited to meet their requirements, even if the senior is unable to express them.
Costs of Memory Care
One of the more expensive types of long-term care is memory care. Staffing requirements for specialized skills and training, as well as heightened safety and security procedures, all contribute to this. Memory care is typically 20-30% more expensive than assisted living in any area. Given the average monthly cost of assisted living in the United States of $4,300 per month, memory care should cost around $5,375 per month.
Keep in mind that this is the national average, and average monthly costs in individual states might vary by thousands of dollars. If you’re seeking for a low-cost memory care community, look for one in a less expensive area.
Assistance with Memory Care Costs
- Medicare: The expense of residential memory care is not covered by Medicare. Nursing homes are the only type of residential senior care that Medicare covers. However, the program does cover some services that may be useful to people with memory loss, such as a specific number of hours of in-home health care per week.
- Medicaid: Long-term care facilities are not covered by standard Medicaid. Most states, on the other hand, have waiver programs that allow them to expand their Medicaid program to include more services and supports. The 1915(c) waiver, also known as the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver, is one such extension that aims to provide seniors more options when it comes to where they receive long-term care. Residents of memory care residences can often get a portion of their costs paid through an HCBS waiver.
- Life Insurance: Seniors with current life insurance policies can “cash out” their policies early by receiving an accelerated death payment from their insurer or selling their policy to a third-party settlement business. Some seniors and their families opt to do so and use the money to pay for long-term care, including memory care. The cash amount is always less than the death benefit, so families should think long and hard about whether this is the best long-term option for them.
- Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance policies are designed to pay for a person’s care costs as they get older, including residential care such as memory care. Policies, on the other hand, are notorious for their complexities and limits. Seniors with long-term care insurance are likely covered for memory care, but it’s always a good idea to double-check the fine print. Individuals who are currently getting long-term care or who are over a particular age are not eligible to apply for a policy, therefore this option is only available to seniors who have long-term care insurance.
- Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages are loans against the value of a house that allow older homeowners to turn some of their equity into cash. Seniors who are transitioning to residential care and need to use some of their home equity to pay for care but are unable or unable to sell their house fast may benefit from this sort of financing. A reverse mortgage allows seniors and their family to sell their home at their leisure while the elder is settling into memory care. The loans must be repaid, with interest, within a set period of time.
What to Look for When Choosing a Memory Care Community
The decision to relocate a loved one into memory care is only one part of the puzzle. You should also do some research and think about a few other solutions. While an online presence can provide a wealth of information about a company and its community, it’s equally essential to plan a tour, whether by video chat or in person. When visiting any institution or program, regardless of which, be sure to ask:
- What security measures are in place to protect safety?
- What happens if my loved one’s physical or mental health deteriorates?
- What happens if his or her personal funds run out? Are there any other options for paying for room and board?
- What activities will my loved one be able to do?
- What rehabilitation program(s) are available to assist with the loss of everyday activities?
- What are the hours for visiting?
- Take note of essential features that will help the dwelling seem like home if you get the opportunity to tour in person or notice some of these elements on your virtual tour:
- Is the house spotless and odor-free?
- Is the staff courteous to the residents?
- Are the residents well-dressed and groomed?
- Does it look that the people who live there are content?
It might be tough to make the shift from home to residential care. If your loved one is anxious, confused, and insistent on returning home, don’t be startled. This is a frequent occurrence, and it will most likely pass as they adjust to their new surroundings. During the first several days, talk to the nurse or administrator about visitation guidelines or suggestions. Some communities may request that you refrain from visiting until the residents have had time to acclimate to their new surroundings.
Most memory care facilities will prioritize not just the resident’s but also the family’s well-being. Ask if there is a support group hosted by the community or if they can recommend you to an outside group. These kinds of organizations can help with the emotional upheaval that might come with a change like this. Contact the Alexi Senior Living if you have any concerns about the resources available in your region.