4 Myths Older Adults Believe About Senior Living
Where you live matters when you retire. Environment can play a role in everything fr...
When a family member receives the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia or memory loss, the entire family is impacted. It is an emotionally and physically challenging disease for the senior and those who love them.
In the earliest stages of the illness, an older adult might be able to remain in their own home or move in with a loved one who acts as a caregiver. As the conditions progress, however, safety, security, and quality of life might decline. Families often lack the time, skills, and knowledge to manage all the unique needs Alzheimer disease or dementia creates.
The senior’s neurologist or primary care physician might suggest a family investigate Alzheimer’s care options. This type of housing is typically referred to as memory care programs, these housing communities are designed to meet the challenges a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s often faces.
We know spouses and adult children might be unfamiliar with this type of senior care and how memory care facilities differ from a traditional assisted living or nursing care community. This overview is designed to provide you with a solid understanding of this type of memory care assisted living, including how it helps improve the quality of life for an adult with dementia.
In broad terms, memory care is a special type of senior housing designed to meet the unique needs of adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia. Most memory care programs are attached to an assisted living community or a nursing care community.
The focus of memory care programs is on improving quality of life for people with dementia, while also keeping them safe and secure.
These dedicated memory care living units offer residents a secure, thoughtfully designed environment that helps reduce the risk that an adult with Alzheimer’s will wander away. But the benefits don’t end there. Memory care programs, or an Alzheimer’s care facility, offer many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.
When an adult with dementia moves to a memory care program, they benefit from a variety of dedicated services. Each is designed to help residents live their best quality of life despite their disease. Memory care benefits include:
If you are struggling to keep a loved one who has dementia safe at home, it might be time to consider a move to memory care. One of our experienced senior care advisors can help you explore nearby options.
Our advice and guidance are always free for senior citizens and their families. Please call us at (800) 304-8061 help making a thoughtful, informed decision
We know older adults and their loved ones have many questions about Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s care options, and memory care programs. From costs to symptoms, we think you will find the answers you are seeking here.
A: It’s easy to see why older adults and their families find these two terms so confusing! Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably but are not always the same condition. Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms related to impaired thinking and memory loss, often related to cognitive decline from aging. Common causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease. Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia; however it is by far the most common form. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for as much as 80% of all cases of dementia.* Although similar, Alzheimer’s disease does have specific symptoms that are not present with all other types of dementia.
A: The earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease* are mild memory loss and confusion. Both are often overlooked or attributed to normal aging.
As the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s symptoms include:
A: It depends upon what stage of the disease an older adult is in. Early stage Alzheimer’s disease might be safely managed at home with family support and/or the assistance of an inhome caregiver. Families often utilize GPS tracking devices and systems as an added safety feature.
As the disease progresses to the advanced or final stages of dementia, the struggle to provide safe dementia home care for a loved one intensifies. Wandering and agitation are two challenges families have difficulty managing. This is when an assisted living community or a dedicated memory care program can offer a better quality of life for the senior and their family
A: There are two primary types of care that fall under this category: memory care in an assisted living community and memory care in a nursing home. What both types of care typically have in common are dedicated Alzheimer’s caregivers, a secure environment, and life enrichment activities designed for adults with memory loss. Most Alzheimer’s care facilities also offer a dining room.
A: People living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have unique needs concerning safety, nutrition, and meaningful activity. Memory care programs are designed to meet those needs and give residents opportunities to live empowered, engaged lives.
A: The cost of Alzheimer’s care varies greatly depending upon the city and state the older adult resides in and whether care is provided in an assisted living setting or a nursing home.
In 2017, the national median cost† for a traditional assisted living community was $3,750 a month. If the senior lives in a dedicated memory care section of the community, the costs are typically higher.
A: The answer to this question largely depends on the senior’s symptoms and their family support system. Many adult children have demanding careers and children of their own still living at home. Juggling these responsibilities can make it difficult for them to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
If a family member doesn’t work and is able to assist in caregiving, families are sometimes successful in managing a loved one’s care by moving the senior in with the family. Together, they may be able to keep an adult with memory loss at home as the disease progresses.
Others find the demands of caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s disease, or caring for someone with dementia, too great of a challenge to manage at home. This is especially true if the senior loved one is prone to wandering, or if there are other safety issues.
A: Discuss this issue with an experienced tax advisor or financial planner. While memory care expenses often fall into a category of care considered to be custodial, a portion of monthly expenses might meet the medical expense criteria. In some cases, the senior or a family member who helps finance care might be eligible for a tax deduction.
A: Unfortunately, Medicare plays a limited role in Alzheimer’s care. If a senior with the disease is hospitalized or needs short-term rehab, their Medicare will usually help pay for some of these expenses. The same is true for physician appointments, lab services, and physical therapy.
Medicare does not provide support for assistance with personal care and daily living, such as help with bathing, dressing, and medication reminders. These types of care are considered custodial and not medical.
A: Creating a support network is a must when you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related type of dementia. Talking with peers in a support group setting is one way to do that. Local churches, senior centers, and assisted living communities often host monthly support group meetings. Some people prefer to join an online caregiver support group. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance both host online support groups and chat rooms.
Alzheimer’s caregivers should also explore nearby assisted living communities that offer respite care services. This short-term care solution gives caregivers an opportunity to take a break. Respite guests can usually stay at an assisted living community for up to one month.
If you have any questions about memory care or Alzheimer’s care facilities, one of our senior care advisors will be happy to help. Please call us at (800) 304-8061. Our support and guidance are always free!
* “What Is Alzheimer’s?,” Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers
† “Compare Long Term Care Costs Across the United States,” Genworth Financial, https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html
If you are exploring Alzheimer’s care options on behalf of a senior in your life, two questions that probably top your list are how much Alzheimer’s care will cost and how you will pay for it. It can be confusing to figure out the cost of monthly fees and accepted types of payment.
Memory care, as Alzheimer’s care programs are often called, is usually part of an assisted living community or a nursing home. Because this is a specialized type of care, you should expect to spend 20% to 30% more than the monthly fee for a traditional assisted living community or a nursing home.*
In 2016, the national average cost for memory care in an assisted living community was $3,600 per month. That compares to $2,452 for traditional assisted living. Memory care for a shared room in a nursing home averaged $220 per day or $6,600 per month. Costs for a private room in a nursing home are typically 10% to 20% higher.
Keep in mind, however, that these are average costs. In some cities and states, memory care expenses can be significantly higher. It’s also important to understand what is included in the standard monthly fee and what additional expenses you are likely to incur.
Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you compare memory care communities:
Depending on where the memory care program is located, either in an assisted living community or in a nursing home, the options for financing care will be different.
There are other financing options for memory care that families should explore. They include:
If you have questions about memory care or how to find a memory care program that will be a good fit for a senior loved one, we can help. Call us at (800) 304-8061 to talk with an experienced senior care advisor for free!
* “Payment Options & Financial Assistance for Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care,” Paying for Senior Care, updated May 2016, https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/alzheimers/financial-assistance.html
† “Veterans Pension Rate Tables,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/current_rates_veteran_pen.asp