Seniors with memory disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, require specialized care and housing. Let’s look at what a memory care facility offers and what you need to know when making a decision for a loved one.
What you can expect. Since Alzheimer’s disease becomes progressively worse, only seniors in the early to moderate stages can be cared for in an assisted living facility. When patients progress to advanced stages, specialized care is needed.
Many Alzheimer’s patients have the tendency to wander from home and become lost so one of the primary goals of a memory care facility is to keep residents safe and secure. Doors are locked, staff and visitors come and go under tight security, and walls around outside courtyards are very high to prevent climbing. Floorplans within the facility are kept simple to reduce confusion.
Beyond security, memory care facilities train their staffs to handle other classic dementia-induced behaviors, such as agitation, irritability and failure to remember basic care functions.
Residents’ rooms may contain “memory boxes” of familiar items and treasured keepsakes. Soothing activities, based on a resident’s past hobbies, are provided. Care is usually limited to personal needs such as feeding and assistance with bathing and dressing. Medical care is provided by outside professionals or from a nursing facility on another part of the campus.
Choosing a memory care facility. Stand-alone facilities for memory care are available or you may prefer a unit that is a part of a larger continuing care facility. Look for a facility that has a comfortable home-like setting. Are the residents clean and well groomed? Is the facility well kept? Inquire about the training and certification of staff. Finally, check with your state’s regulatory agency regarding the facility’s record.
Costs. The monthly cost for residency in a memory care facility varies by state, but can begin at $3,200 and go as high as $6,300. Up-front fees may also be charged. Medicare will not pay for the custodial portion of care (residency and personal care), but it will pay for some of the medical portion. Medicare Part D will help with some medications. Long-term care insurance may cover some costs, depending on the terms of the policy.