Memory care is designed to meet the needs of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Many families prefer to keep their loved ones at home for as long as possible to maintain a recognizable environment, but at some point, a senior with Alzheimer’s disease will need more personalized care than what can be provided at home.
These individuals need an environment that can provide around-the-clock supervised care to ensure their safety and well-being. Memory care is available as a specialized unit within an assisted living facility or, in some cases, entire retirement communities tailored to meet the needs of individuals with cognitive impairment.
Memory care units or facilities typically offer a higher ratio of staff to residents, compared to other types of long term care, and staff members undergo specialized training to ensure the safety of residents.
What Memory Care Encompasses
Seniors receiving memory care may need assistance with medication, daily living activities, and transportation. Communities equipped with memory care facilities may have the following features:
- Secured exits to prevent wandering
- Enhanced visual cues, such as signs or pictures, designed to help residents feel more oriented within their surroundings
Seniors may also receive the following services:
- Assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, and eating
- Art therapy to increase self-expression
- Physical therapy to improve balance and muscle strength
- Music therapy to boost mood
- Mental health therapy
Seniors receiving memory care will also enjoy:
- Arts and crafts, such as knitting, coloring, and ceramics
- Group walks for social interaction
- Recreational activities such as bingo, dominos, and checkers games to support fine motor skills
Questions to Ask When Searching for Memory Care
If you have a family member who needs memory care, be sure to ask the following questions when searching for a facility:
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio throughout the day and night?
- Does the facility have a doctor or nurse on staff around the clock?
- What kind of training does staff undergo to provide memory care?
- Is each resident paired with a staff member, or does staff rotate?
- Which medical services are available on-site?
- What are the various levels of care and how much does each cost?
- What kinds of daily activities are offered?
- What kind of security does the facility have?
- What does the meal plan include?
- How often are family members updated about their loved one’s health?
- Are employees required to pass background checks?
The Cost of Memory Care
The cost of memory care is higher than standard assisted living services due to the additional staffing requirements and availability of various therapy and social programs. Most states require additional licensing for permission to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Medicare may cover the following memory care services:
- Care planning for seniors diagnosed with cognitive impairment
- Annual wellness visits
- Up to 100 days of nursing home care
- Prescription medications
- Inpatient hospitalization to treat an illness or injury
- Hospice care costs directly related to symptoms associated with end-stage dementia
Medicare does not cover long-term care or the room and board portion of memory care.