What is Memory Care?
Memory care is a type of specialized care for individuals diagnosed with various types and levels of memory loss. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, the medical term for a decline in memory, thinking, decision-making, and reasoning. Memory care facilities are for persons with a level of impairment that makes it unsafe for themselves and others to continue to stay at home. Therefore, these individuals require a higher level of skilled care and supervision to care for their specific needs and demands.
Memory care allows a person experiencing memory loss to maintain a level of independence while relying on the safety and security of being in a memory care facility with 24-hour professional staff. Many dementia patients feel the need to wander or have the need to be somewhere. Alarmed doors and emergency call systems are in place for their safety. At the same time, they should feel comfortable, relaxed, and calm in their environment. Usually, within these secured areas, residents can enjoy indoor walking paths, or outdoor paths or gardens, which gives them the freedom of being outdoors. In memory care facilities, shared spaces provide areas for socialization, activities, and dining.
Typically, the resident's living quarters are in private or shared living spaces. Memory boxes placed by the door of the resident's room, allow families to place old photos and other objects that would trigger a connection for the senior. The decor of memory care facilities vary but endeavor to achieve a home-like setting.
Memory care facilities offer personalized care with a structured setting to keep them active and to promote physical and emotional well-being. Patients have scheduled activities and programs supervised by trained staff designed to enhance memory, and possibly slow the disease's progression. As residents age in place, additional services or support may become necessary. There are other services available as needed.
Amenities, Activities, and Services
• Secured enclosed walking paths with beautiful grounds and courtyard
• Fitness room and exercises classes
• Community center for planned leisure, social, and family events
• Engagement areas
• Computer rooms
• Arts and Crafts for relaxation and engagement in a creative experience
• Music/Dance Entertainment
• Brain fitness games to maintain current skills and improve cognitive functions
• Movies nights
• Regular assessment and service planning
• Scheduled transportation with an escort
• Medication assessment and management
• Beauty and Barber Salons
The National Cost of Memory Care
The cost for memory care depends on the location, the number of patients, and the services offered. The price would change because some memory care facilities specialize in advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, whereas others function in the early stages of memory loss. In 2019 the U.S. national average cost of memory care for a single resident is approximately $5,000 a month.
The Cost of Alzheimer's Medications
Consumer Reports finds individuals with Alzheimer's disease pays, on average, $177 to over $400 per month for their medications.
Is a Memory Care Facility an Option?
• Is the person with Alzheimer's or Dementia becoming unsafe in their current home?
• Is the health of the person with memory loss or my health as a caregiver at risk?
• Are the care needs of the person beyond my physical abilities?
• Am I becoming stressed, irritable, and impatient as a caregiver?
• Am I neglecting responsibilities to my family, work, and myself?
• Would the structure and social interaction at a memory care facility benefit the person?
Testing for Cognitive Impairment
There is no definitive test for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. If a form of memory loss is suspected, the doctor will order a series of diagnostic testing to reach as conclusive a determination as possible. One of the most common is the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) A widely used tool for detecting cognitive impairment, assessing severity, and monitoring cognitive changes over time. Trained clinicians should administer this test. This exam assesses five areas: Orientation, Short-term memory (retention), Attention, Short-term memory (recall), and language.
It's essential to recognize the signs of dementia as early as possible because early detection is vital for slowing down the progression of the condition. If you have a loved one who needs a memory care facility, making this transition can be a stressful experience. You may feel guilty and wonder if you're doing the right thing. But keep in mind that regardless of where the care takes place, the decision is about making sure the person receives the care and safety they need.
Remember, despite memory impairment, a person with Alzheimer's or Dementia can continue to live an engaging, meaningful, and joyful life. It is comforting for families to have peace of mind that their loved one is safe, well cared for, and supported in a 24-hour memory care facility with trained staff.