What Is Memory Care?
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If you have an elderly loved one who is beginning to exhibit the stages of dementia, it may be time to consider moving him or her into a memory care facility.
Starting a conversation about your loved one’s needs, as his or her dementia progresses, can be difficult as it often stirs up a lot of emotions and concerns, particularly when discussing a possible move.
While some nursing home facilities offer memory care, a memory care facility is specially designed to assist and care for individuals with various types of dementia.
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Find Memory Care Near You
When your loved one begins to experience and show signs of memory loss, you may be wondering if and when it’s time to find a memory care facility. Before you start looking at facilities in your area, talk with your loved one to see if dementia care is the best option.
If he or she recommends moving into a facility, ask for recommendations or if you have friends or family that have gone through a similar experience, ask them for some advice. While you may find the perfect facility immediately, don’t be surprised if you tour numerous facilities before finding the right one.
Basics of Memory Care
Adults, typically over the age of 55, who suffer from progressive cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are ideal candidates. What is dementia? It’s a good question. The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.” Memory care, which is often referred to as Alzheimer’s care or dementia care, is specialized care that assists adults with varying degrees of memory loss.
While each memory care facility is different, safety and wellness are some of the top priorities in a care facility. Individuals with dementia may experience many changes and the right care facility will address those issues. While one individual may forget to eat, another may become disorientated and wander away.
Memory care facilities are often “locked down” to keep residents safe, and there is a lot of one-on-one care. The staff at memory care facilities have specialized training to offer the best care possible.
Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s
As mentioned earlier, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability; it is not a specific disease. When you hear that someone has been recently diagnosed with dementia, it simply means that he or she has been diagnosed with memory loss. Dementia differs from person to person.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and accounts for about 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. It is a progressive disease, and while there is no cure, there are some treatments that may slow down the progression of alzheimer's disease.
Memory Care Services
Although the services offered at a memory care facility may vary from one place to the next, some of the basic services include:
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Meal preparation
- Assistance with daily activities
- 24/7 personal assistance
The services are customized to meet the specific needs of each resident, and the facilities themselves are typically relaxing and secure to keep calm and safe.
Senior activities, crafts, entertainment, and hobbies are an important part of memory care, and some of the activities are often adapted for each resident based on his or her needs or abilities.
Costs of Memory Care
The average cost for memory care is around $5,000 a month. Depending on where you live and the type of care your loved one needs, it could be significantly lower or higher. Before selecting the first memory care facility you visit, take the time to do a little “shopping.”
Memory care should not put you or your loved one in debt. Talking with a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM), someone who has experience with social work, nursing, and in geriatric care, can help you to weigh your financial options and work through some of the more complicated steps.
You may find that your loved one would do well in a less expensive facility; don’t assume that cheaper automatically means that the care is sub par.
How Can You Pay for Memory Care?
The monthly cost of memory care can be overwhelming, and you may wonder how you’ll be able to come up with the money every month.
Medicare will cover some costs but will not cover a long-term memory care facility. If you find a facility that does accept Medicaid, you may be able to have a significant portion of the costs covered. Through Medicare and Medicaid, there are ways that you can cut down on out of pocket costs for memory care.
If your loved one is a Veteran, he or she may be eligible for some benefits and don’t forget to read the small print on a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, there are no clear answers to paying for memory care, but there are ways to help relieve some of the costs.
It may be a difficult step to take, but if your loved one is moving into a memory care facility and out of their home, it may be time to think about selling the home and other assets that are no longer used (such as a vehicle). Ideally, your loved one will have money set aside for a care facility, but that may not always be the case.
Signs That a Patient Should Receive Memory Care
Every person’s journey with memory loss is different, and even though you may not need to move your loved one into a memory care facility right away, it’s important to recognize when it’s time. It may be time to move into a facility if:
- Your loved one cannot feed or care for him or herself
- You feel burnout and can't manage stress, as the primary caregiver
- You are constantly worried about your loved one’s safety
- Daily activities become too difficult
- Your loved one is not safe at home
There is no specific dementia test that will tell you whether or not it’s time to move but you can always talk with your loved one’s doctor.
Selecting a Memory Care Facility
As mentioned above, memory care facilities offer assistance with daily activities and also work to create a customized plan for care. Finding the right facility for your loved one may take a little time.
Make a list of things you would like to see in a facility and what your loved one needs. Tour as many facilities as you can, taking detailed notes, and asking questions. If you don’t have a clear choice, visit a facility again or have a family member come with you for some feedback.
Whichever facility you select, it should be safe, secure, and dedicated to helping your loved one as he or she lives with progressive dementia.