According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50% of elders in long-term care facilities have Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. Many of these older adults improve the quality of life, despite their declining memory, because they live in a memory care community. But what is memory care? How much does memory care cost? This is your definitive and complete memory care guide this 2021.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care refers to providing specialized care to seniors with cognitive impairment. Memory care communities are housing spaces with well-trained staff who administer 24-hour specialized care services to people with Alzheimer's or dementia.
Families need to understand that memory care isn't an option but a requirement for seniors with moderate to senile mental deterioration. Generally, at the early stage of dementia, adult children volunteer to be caregivers to their senior parents or loved ones diagnosed with dementia. While the care received at home may be sufficient for a time, in the future, loved ones will manifest critical symptoms, like wandering and grave memory loss.
When this time comes, the situation will be unmanageable at home. Why? First, family caregivers aren't equipped for this situation. They don't have the appropriate care training to look after someone with late-stage dementia. Second, home becomes an unsafe haven. It lacks the safety features that a wandering senior need. Third, the senior needs 24-hour care that family caregivers can't sustain.
Eventually, the care demands of people with dementia will exceed what family caregivers can handle. The caring responsibility becomes so overwhelming that ultimately, as tricky as it may be, loved ones will need to move into an environment that is safe, secure, and where their care needs are surely provided - this is what a memory care community is.
Assisted Living with In-house Memory Care vs. Independent Memory Care
Memory care communities can either be a separate area of a larger senior living community or an independent residential space.
To reduce the burden of multiple transfers, many assisted living communities today offer in-house memory care. That means a senior with mild cognitive symptoms at the moment can stay at the assisted living facility, then move to the memory care wing later on. The main benefit of this is that the loved one is already familiar with the environment. Therefore, adjusting to their new home is easy.
However, independent memory care communities may also be the first best option. Since these communities single-handedly focus on providing memory care service, they may have better safety features, amenities, and management organization. All-in-all, the essential thing families must consider when finding memory care is that their loved ones are comfortable and receive their much-needed care.
What are the benefits of memory care?
Memory care communities offer loads of benefits to both the resident and their families. For families, relocating a senior to a memory care community means peace of mind. A trained memory care staff can better manage the bouts of emotional outbursts, confusion, and aggressiveness of a loved one.
Whereas for the residents, the most significant advantage of a memory care community is their improved quality of life. If people in perfect health want to live their life to the fullest — it's the same for people with dementia or Alzheimer's.
Given that they have a few years left, their remaining years should be comfortable. Families can support their loved ones by providing them the best care support as they reach the end of life. In a memory care community, people with dementia can live with less pain. Here are the significant benefits of memory care.
24-hour Care and Monitoring
What makes memory care the appropriate place for individuals with dementia is the round-the-clock supportive care and monitoring. In a memory care facility, the staff are more attentive to the care needs of the residents.
Since it has a 24-hour monitoring staff, in case of emergencies, residents receive immediate assistance. Furthermore, there are enough caregivers in a memory care facility to look after residents who tend to wander or experience sundowning during the late afternoon and early evening.
People with Alzheimer's and late-stage dementia are also vulnerable to infections, particularly pneumonia. So, their condition needs monitoring at all times. Any subtle changes in their health or behavior are easily detected.
Staff in memory care living receive specialized training to mainly handle individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia. Some of them even hold nursing certifications. They know the best tactics to manage various behavioral and emotional changes associated with dementia, like aggression, depression, confusion, and irritability.
Many caregivers who work in assisted living are great at providing supportive care, such as mobility assistance. But they aren't likely fit to care for a person with severe Alzheimer's or dementia. Mainly because they aren't emotionally, mentally, and physically stable to get through the everyday challenges in a memory care home. They may end up being depressed. The fact is working in a memory care facility takes a massive toll on a caregiver's health.
A trained dementia caregiver is primed to be effective, open-minded, and resilient to the various stresses in a memory care community. Therefore, they have a higher tolerance and mental fortitude to deal with the everyday hardships of providing care for residents with dementia.
That's why families can rest easy if a loved one is in memory care. No matter how unbearable their loved one's behavior is, there's a trained staff who would compassionately and patiently care for them.
The care needs of a person with cognitive impairment are complex. It's not as simple as giving them meds or helping them schedule their day. Individuals with severe dementia are more dependent. Residents can't do things on their own and need supervision all day.
For instance, they need a hand in taking a bath. When it's mealtime, they need a caregiver to feed them as some may have difficulty moving or swallowing. What this boils down to is that, in memory care, residents receive specialized and individualized care based on their overall condition. Since dementia manifests in each person differently, residents in memory care receive person-centered care. Caregivers don't only provide the physical aspect of care but also emotional care.
People with dementia go through a roller coaster of emotional and behavioral changes. One second, they're calm and silent; the next second, they're irritated and aggressive. So, they manifest unpredictable behaviors and symptoms.
Therefore, a fully secured environment with upgraded safety features is a must for them. Wandering is a common symptom. So, on days when residents wander, their safety isn't at risk. That's because memory care facilities are built with the intention to support the lifestyle and manage the symptoms of those with dementia. Hence, residents remain in the parameters even if they wander, call systems, emergency buttons, coded elevators, and security guards.
Special activity programs
Part of the care plan in memory care communities is organizing special programs that keep the residents' cognitive function active. Care staff design several brain-stimulating activities that can help delay the decline of their memory.
Since activities are specially planned for the residents, they're fun, safe and can boost their thinking skills. Some of these preplanned activities include yoga or other physical exercises, card games, and other brain-boosting indoor games, like crossword puzzles and sudoku, outings, gardening, and meaningful sensory activities.
Memory care staff value communication and work together to plan activities based on the residents' unique needs. This initiative is part of the entire care program designed for each person.
So, caregivers coordinate with other care professionals, such as cardiologists or podiatrists, if necessary. They also help set up medical appointments and provide transportation services. If rehabilitation therapy is needed, caregivers reach out to an occupational, physical, or speech therapist to arrange onsite care services.
For example, residents with mobility concerns will need supportive therapies. Caregivers can coordinate with the right care professionals to ensure that residents receive the care support they need.
Alleviating the pain associated with dementia is a critical objective of memory care. As of the moment, there's no cure for dementia or Alzheimer's yet. But there are multiple FDA-approved medications to ease the symptoms. For pain to ease away, residents may need to take multiple medicines, which a memory care staff can help manage.
Medication mismanagement isn't new. But for people with dementia, taking the wrong medication can increase the risk of health complications. So, they need support from a knowledgeable and reliable caregiver to manage their meds.
Many residents with dementia develop pneumonia. Others may also acquire urinary tract infections, arthritis, and even injuries due to falls, leading to new medication prescriptions. It can be overwhelming and confusing.
It's also easy to mix-up medications, especially if a caregiver is in-charge of multiple residents. The good thing is that memory care facilities have a high staff-to-resident ratio. Thus, caregivers can manage medications more effectively. They have more time to check up on each resident and make sure they take the right meds on time.
Memory care communities take memory care dining experience to another level with selected nutritious food every meal. A plate of healthy fruits and vegetables solves vitamin deficiency and unintended weight loss brought about by the disease.
A good dining experience entails bite-sized serving meals, easy-to-eat finger food, warm food and soup, family-style meals, and ounces of healthy fresh juices and other drink options. Chefs in memory care communities strategize around different food preparation techniques to make nutritious meals.
Memory care staff can coordinate with other healthcare specialists to bring optimal care to the community. When needed, they can arrange to provide physical, occupational, or other forms of therapy onsite.
This is convenient for families as they no longer have to contact or find a reliable therapist. Memory care communities have a network of trusted therapists and specialized care professionals who can provide supportive care to residents.
How does memory care help seniors with memory loss?
Memory care is a huge help for seniors with declining memory. When residents experience confusion and memory loss, they'll be needing a care support system that can give them their much-needed care.
Let's face it — home isn't the right place for people with late-stage dementia. They need a secure environment with 24-hour care supervision and trained dementia care professionals. This is where memory care communities come in. Between the home and a memory care community, the latter is more capable of providing the care demands of people with dementia. Moreover, memory care follows a comprehensive care program. Therefore, from their diet to community activities — everything is planned with the intention to boost residents' thinking skills and slow the decline of their memory.
When is it time for memory care?
There is an array of concerning signs to tell that it's time for memory care. Often, doctors use daily living activities (ADL) to gauge an individual's ability to perform tasks. If a loved one finds it challenging to get out of bed, take a bath, change their clothes, or prepare their meals — these are indications that they may need extra care.
Other indicators that it's time for memory care are:
1. Memory loss
A loved one may forget to eat, drink, or take their medication.2. Weight loss
This is the result of forgetting their meals.3. Loss of their sense of direction
They get lost on routes.4. Safety issues
They forget to turn off burners or other appliances after use.
Suppose a loved one shows these signs, set up an appointment, and let them take a mental status exam. The result will further confirm if it's time to move to a safer and secure community.
What makes memory care different?
Compared to an assisting living, a memory care community offers extended and expanded dementia care support, making it a more suitable option for people with severe dementia or Alzheimer's. Take, for example, the staff-to-resident ratio — assisted living has a lower staff-to-resident ratio — meaning one caregiver may be assigned to look after and give care to 20 or more residents. Most assisted living residents are still more than able to perform the activities of daily living. They can be independent in pretty much all aspects of their life.
It's the opposite with memory care, as tasks are finely segmented depending on individual needs. A high staff-to-resident ratio enables caregivers to provide adequate care and attention to each resident, leading to a higher quality of patient care received. With enough caregivers, memory care can use a more holistic and personalized approach to giving care.
What does memory care provide?
Memory care provides 24-hour care, a secure environment, and specialized care to people with mild to severe dementia or Alzheimer's. This includes round-the-clock assistance to nearly all aspects of daily living, from the time residents wake up to the time they go to bed.
Since it's unlikely that two persons manifest similar symptoms of dementia, the type of care given in memory care is person-centered — meaning the care plan, activities, and lifestyle and nutritional programs are tailored to what one resident needs. This is possible because of the high staff-to-resident ratio and restricted number of residents in memory care.
How much does memory care cost?
The cost of memory care varies due to factors like location, specialization, amenities, services, inflation, etc. Based on the latest available data, the national average memory care cost for a private room is around $5,745 per month. In Texas, memory care costs range from $5,981 to $6,476 depending on which city you live.
Memory care is more costly than assisted living. But the services it offers justify the cost. Care is individual-focused, and programs are more suitable for residents. They also receive optimal care and are being watched 24-hours a day to ensure their safety. In memory care communities, residents receive the best care to improve their quality of life.
What is the average stay in a memory care facility?
The average stay in a memory care home is around two to three years. However, some variables can shorten or lengthen the stay from a few months to several years.
Based on research, a 65-year old senior with Alzheimer's can expect to live between 4 to 8 years after diagnosis. Some even live as long as 20 years. The lifestyle that one has before the diagnosis can tremendously impact life expectancy.
For example, between two individuals, one with a good lifestyle and the other with an unhealthy standard of living, the former may live longer and, therefore, may also need memory care for over three years.
Again, the length of stay will depend on an individual's lifestyle and health state. Life expectancy also decreases with age, so it also has a role in needing memory care. Other factors are gender, the presence of multiple health conditions, and the progression of the disease. Although dementia is common in seniors aged 65 and older, people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s may experience the disease's onset and be diagnosed. This condition can also impact the need for memory care.
Does Medicare cover memory care?
If eligible, Medicare covers a portion of memory care cost. This may include cognitive assessments, home health care service, inpatient stays, and hospice care.
1. Medicare Part A
Covers inpatient stays in hospitals. It can also help cover hospice care if specific requirements are met.2. Medicare Part B
Covers annual wellness visits, which include cognitive impairment evaluations and other diagnostic tests.3. Medicare Part D
Covers prescription drugs.4. Special needs plans or SNPs
Are Advantage plans intended to support chronic conditions like dementia. These plans often include coordination of care.5. Chronic care management services
(CCMR) are for people with one or more chronic conditions besides dementia. The benefits include 24/7 access to healthcare professionals, a care plan, and care and medication coordination.
In most cases, Medicare doesn't cover long-term care, such as assisted living or memory care. But Medicare helps reduce the overall monthly care costs.
Senex Memory Advisors offer no cost professional advice to families on choosing the right Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. They not only assist in evaluating your parents needs, but they also provide possible solutions when parents need assisted living.
Their proprietary assessment tool is designed to reduce costs by finding the most appropriate solutions for assisted living or memory care communities for seniors. Senex Memory Advisors work with you to find the best-fit solution for aging parents.
Senex Memory Advisors offers no cost professional advice to families on choosing the right Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. Their proprietary assessment tool is designed to reduce costs by finding the most appropriate solutions. If you have questions on finding an assisted living or memory care for your loved one, click here to discuss your queries with a certified dementia advisor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.