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What is Memory Care?

What Is Memory Care Main

Key Summary

Memory Care is a type of long-term care, specifically for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Learn the differences between Memory Care and Assisted Living, and find out who qualifies for Memory Care.

Memory Care is a specialized type of long-term care, specifically tailored for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of progressive-degenerative dementia.

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, Memory Care can improve their quality of life. When an Assisted Living Community or Skilled Nursing Facility simply cannot provide all the necessary services, moving to a welcoming and life-enhancing Memory Care Community is the best answer.

If you have a new diagnosis and are researching for your future, or if you have a loved one already in this situation, you may have many questions about Memory Care, and how it can help. What exactly is Memory Care? What types of facilities provide Memory Care? Who qualifies for Memory Care? These are some of the important questions we often answer.

Let’s take a look at the basics of Memory Care to help you understand how it works, who qualifies for Memory Care, and how you can learn more about Memory Care facilities near you.

Memory Care and What it Means

Around 25 years ago, Assisted Living Communities began to acknowledge that caring for residents with serious memory problems was beyond the means of the staff they traditionally employed. Across the country, Assisted Living Communities began opening “dementia units,” now known as Memory Care Communities, that are run by specially trained staff members.

As the fastest-growing sector in senior housing, Memory Care provides a structured, comforting, safe environment for its residents. Memory Care facilities and their staff are available to protect residents, and reduce the stress many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia suffer from every day.

What is Memory Care vs. Assisted Living?

Memory Care Communities are different from Assisted Living Communities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Nursing Homes. However, you will often find Memory Care “neighborhoods” within these aforementioned properties. Some of these communities even use décor to simulate actual neighborhoods; they might also use color-coded rooms to help residents retain familiarity with their surroundings.

There are also standalone Memory Care facilities, where the entire community is geared toward residents with dementia, and every staff member has completed specialized training.

In either case, Memory Care staff provide meals and help residents with daily personal care tasks, just as you’d expect at an Assisted Living Community. However, at Memory Care facilities, they’re also specially trained to deal with the unique and varied issues that will surface in residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memory Care staff also provide structure and support to help residents navigate the ups and downs of their daily lives.

Memory Care also recognizes the importance of family involvement and encourages spouses, adult children, and loved ones of residents to visit the community on a regular basis and participate in activities. Family members will also receive updates about how their loved one is getting on in their new home, and their overall health and wellness.

Memory Care Requirements

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, many residents can live on their own, especially if they’re receiving assistance from loved ones and/or a paid caregiver. As time goes on, however, you will most likely have to consider helping your loved one move to a Memory Care Community, where they will receive the care they require on a daily basis.

Memory Care provides many of the same facilities and services you’d receive in an Assisted Living Community, including:

  • Semi-private or private accommodations.
  • Housekeeping and personal laundry services.
  • In-house medical alert systems.
  • Daily social and recreational activities.
  • Meals, snacks, and beverages provided throughout the day.
  • Assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), including bathing, dressing, eating, moving about, and using the restroom.

In addition to these services, many Memory Care Communities also offer:

  • Anti-wandering systems, i.e., wireless tracking devices that allow caregivers to monitor the exact location of each resident.
  • Added security measures.
  • Daily group and individual activities specifically tailored to residents with memory loss, e.g., brain games specially designed to slow the progression of memory loss.
  • More frequent staff/resident contact, to ensure needs are being met.
  • According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some 6 in 10 residents are prone to wandering. Memory Care communities provide alarmed doors, elevators that require a code and enclosed outdoor spaces, all to ensure the residents remain on site and safe.

For more information about selecting the right Memory Care Community, read our article “How Do I Choose a Memory Care Community?

Who Qualifies for Memory Care?

In order to qualify for Memory Care, one must be able to provide physician’s proof of Alzheimer’s, dementia, traumatic brain injury, or some other type of progressive memory loss. (Though the majority of Memory Care residents are senior citizens, there is no universally set age limit. A younger resident who is suffering memory loss following a traumatic incident, for example, could be eligible for Memory Care.)

What is the Average Monthly Cost of Memory Care?

Medicaid covers Memory Care only if the patient does not have the financial means to cover the cost. Given the higher level of care and supervision provided by Memory Care, the cost is usually more than Assisted Living, but varies state to state and in accordance with the offerings of each community. Veterans' benefits can often help cover the cost for veterans and their spouses if they’re over age 65.

Find a Memory Care Community Near You

Now you know that Memory Care is specialized long-term care specifically geared for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, you’re on the right path to finding the Community you need. Find a Memory Care Community near you, using our search tool.

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