Making the decision to relocate a loved one to a senior care community is never easy. But sometimes, as with cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, it can be in your loved one’s best interest to place them in the hands of capable staff at a memory care facility, also known as an Alzheimer’s care or dementia care community.

eThese facilities can provide the constant attention your loved one requires. With some effort you can find the right place to assist with all their needs.

What Is a Memory Care Facility?

A memory care facility is a retirement home or part of a retirement community that specializes in long-term, live-in care for residents with memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s. These facilities are built around assisting residents with their memory problems. For example, the layout of the buildings or patterns on the walls and floors might be designed to reduce confusion. Mental or physical exercises often may be used daily with the intention of improving a resident’s cognitive function. Retirement communities that have residents without memory afflictions will have a separate memory care unit, wing or housing for those who do.

When Is a Dementia Care Facility Necessary?

It may be time to consider a memory care facility if your loved one meets these criteria:

    • Requires more time and care than you can provide

    • Can no longer be an advocate for himself or herself

    • Is becoming a danger to himself or herself, or is endangering others in the household

You may also consider checking with a doctor for a professional opinion.

What a Dementia Care Facility Could Cost

Memory care facilities can vary greatly in cost. According to MetLife’s 2012 survey of long-term care costs, the average annual rate for dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment in assisted living communities was $57,684. For a private room in a nursing home, the average yearly cost was $95,265; for a semi-private room, $83,950.

If you or your loved one has long-term care insurance, Veterans Affairs benefits or Medicaid, check the coverage as it may not cover these costs. Medicare will not pay for long-term facility care expenses.

How to Choose a Memory Care Facility

The best way to choose a facility is to visit it and observe and interact with its staff and residents.

While you’re there, take a look at the layout. Look for an open floor plan that’s easy to navigate (no dead-end hallways or lots of locked doors is a good sign). Look for up-to-date, clean amenities and equipment.

It’s also important to see how the residents interact with the staff and function within their surroundings. Are the staff engaging the residents in a friendly way, or are they just watching? Living areas should be used; if many of the residents are just holed away in their rooms it might be a bad sign.

Check out the programs provided by the facility. A good program sheet should have activities tailored to individual needs. To find out what exactly the facility includes in its special-care procedures, request a special-care-unit disclosure form.

Above all, make sure to visit several facilities and take the time to carefully evaluate each of them.

How to Make the Transition to Alzheimer’s Care

You need to talk with your loved one about the move. If the person refuses to go, you may want to ask another person, such as a geriatric care manager or doctor, to speak with them. The transition will likely be difficult, but remember, you are not abandoning your loved one–you are giving them the required 24/7 care they need. And, of course, you can visit often and remain committed to seeing their journey through.