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.
Q: Is there a difference between dementia and Alzheimer's?
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.
Q: What are the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease?
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:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Trouble with problem solving
- Difficulty managing finances
- Confusion about time or place
- Communication struggles
- Problems completing familiar everyday tasks
Q: What are the care options for people with Alzheimer's disease?
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
Q: What are Alzheimer's care facilities?
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.
Q: How do memory care programs support adults with dementia?
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.
- Life enrichment activities:
Programs and activities that work around physical and cognitive losses and utilize residents’ remaining abilities allow them to feel empowered and successful. Music, art, and physical fitness activities are common in memory care programs.
Q: How much does memory care cost?
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.
Q: How long can people with Alzheimer’s disease live safely at home?
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.
Q: Is a memory care community/facility tax deductible?
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.
Q: How much does Medicare cover for Alzheimer’s care?
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.
Q: Where can Alzheimer's caregivers go for support?
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 (888) 514-6461. 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