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Memory Care, Alzheimer's and Dementia Care: Everything You Need To Know

Most cognitive impairments like memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia get worse over time in lack of special and long-term care. But it is important to remember that your loved one dealing with cognitive impairment can still experience many cheerful times.

Memory care facilities can really help older adults with impaired memory conditions and dementia stay happy and maintain their quality of life.

But considering the growing number of memory care facilities, it can be challenging to find the best memory care for your senior loved one. Every facility is different and offers different services. You should learn as much as possible about memory care before deciding on a memory care, Alzheimer’s or dementia care facility.

Finding a good memory care community involves location, the cost, type of care, services provided, and much more. Choose a memory care facility according to the budget and need of seniors.

Find the Nearest Memory Care Facilities

What is Memory Care?

Memory care is a long-term care program designed for older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. It involves creating a structured environment to meet the unique needs of seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Memory care programs can be part of an assisted living community or standalone communities exclusively dedicated to adults with memory impairment. These specially designed living spaces aim to keep seniors with memory loss safe while enabling them to enjoy the best quality lifestyle.

Other goals of memory care are to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia, enabling seniors to feel a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction on a daily basis.

Memory care facilities have trained staff, resources, and activities that help fight off the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Assisted living housing is for older adults who are generally healthy, but need assistance with daily activities. This type of facility allows seniors to live independently in an individual or shared apartment under the supervision of trained staff. The staff provides help with tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, and medication management.

Assisted living communities often have a shared dining area. Most facilities organize scheduled activities and social events for residents. Additional level of care is provided to residents, including pain management, physical therapy, etc.

On the other hand, memory care facilities differ a lot from assisted living communities. Seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have specific and memory-related severe needs. They need special and constant attention to avoid potential dangers.

Memory care communities provide stimulating activities designed for dementia patients, allowing them to enjoy their life. These facilities feature extra security precautions to keep residents safe and making the premise comfortable to navigate for them. 

Memory Care: Differences Between Dementia And Alzheimer's

Dementia is a syndrome that refers to a group of symptoms that do not have a definite diagnosis. It describes all symptoms that impact memory, our ability to perform daily tasks, and communication abilities.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. AD generally affects adults 65 years and older. However, up to five percent of those diagnosed have early onset AD. This means that the person diagnosed is in their 40s or 50s.[1]

Demographics in the US and Canada

According to 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts And Figures[2], in the United States, 5.6 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s. Similarly, 16,000 Canadians under the age of 65 are living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society Canada reports that 65% of Canadians diagnosed with dementia are over the age of 65 are women.[3]

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia require a special form of care. When a senior suffers from this illness, they often deserve 24X7 attention and expert care, along with a safe and secure environment. However, most homes are not designed to accommodate the special needs of seniors with memory impairment. Also, a caretaker may not be able to provide senior the needed support all hours of the day at home.

Nearly 48 percent of all caregivers who provide help to seniors do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. A Medicare analysis claim that 14% of Hispanics, 13% of African Americans, 10% of Whites, 9% of Native Americans, and 8% of Asians suffer from Alzheimer's disease. However, only 16 percent of seniors get a regular cognitive assessment at the time of routine health check-ups.[4]

In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementia forms will cost the USA $290 billion.[5] It is projected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Despite the prevalence of cognitive impairment, senior care facilities do not all provide h Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Around 17 percent of residential care facilities offer beds for dementia care needs.

Thus, these communities are sometimes known as “dementia care community,” “specialized care unit,” “memory care unit,” “dementia special care unit” or “Alzheimer’s care community.”

Memory Care Types

There a few different types of memory care facilities, depending on the needs of seniors who   have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some need intensive medical care, while others may need full-time personal care assistance.

Some older adults with dementia need involvement in social and recreational activities. Alzheimer’s and dementia care centers may vary from each other in the amenities and services they offer.

Services Offered in Memory Care Facilities

Memory care is much more different than other types of senior care programs. Older adults who choose to live in memory care communities often suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other Dementia, or any other memory impairment. These individuals suffer from memory problems such as difficulty remembering things, misplacing items, asking the same questions repeatedly, elopement, etc.

Each memory care facility may offer different services using different strategies. But basic services remain the same. It is important to check that the memory care community you are choosing must offer the following services:

  • 24-hour supervised care
  • Three meals in a day
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Medical monitoring and assistance
  • Physical activities
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Provide memory care activities
  • Assistance with outdoor activities
  • Transportation assistance

Live your retirement can provide you with a list of services offered in a memory care facility. We can also provide a list of attractions and other facilities near their listings like hospitals, malls, and parks.

Ready to search for a memory care facility?

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Memory, Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Costs

Memory care is more intensive than other types of senior care programs, although not always medically intensive. It involves around the clock supervision and specialized facilities to deal with various issues.

Memory care costs depend on a number of factors, including the location of the memory care facility and amenities provided. The best way to know the cost of memory care is to learn more about the memory care facilities in your area.

With this in mind, let’s have a closer look at memory care costs.

Use the following tool to figure out memory care cost details by state and region. The tool displays average costs for different types of memory care services.

Type of care Average Cost in Region
Skilled Nursing Facilities Private Room Annual Rate: $91,279.20
Skilled Nursing Facilities Semi-Private Room Annual: $77,573.45
Assisted Living Facility Monthly Rate (2 bedroom): $5,699.17
Assisted Living Facility Monthly Rate (1 bedroom): $5,048.10
Assisted Living Facility Monthly Rate (Studio): $4,361.03
Registered Nurse Per Visit Rate: $134.31
Licensed Practical Nurse Per Visit Rate: $121.60
Home Health Aide Hourly Rate: $22.63

In the USA, the average cost of memory care for seniors is $4,650/month as of 2019. In the southern states and through the plains, the monthly cost is around $3,300/month. In the Northeast and on the West Coast, costs are much higher, around $5,500, even $6,000.[6]

Average expenses for dementia care is$273 a month, spent on medical supplies and $159 monthly on food.[7]

The following chart shows the rounded average cost of memory care in US states:

US State Avg. Monthly Cost
Alabama $4,225
Alaska $6,853
Arizona $4,568
Arkansas $4,213
California $4,900
Colorado $4,900
Connecticut $6,725
Delaware $6,895
Florida $4,300
Georgia $4,030
Hawaii $5,150
Idaho $4,390
Illinois $5,200
Indiana $4,843
Iowa $4,650
Kansas $5,338
Kentucky $4,500
Louisiana $4,160
Maine $5,950
Maryland $5,050
Massachusetts $6,450
Michigan $4,400
Minnesota $4,600
Mississippi $4,300
Missouri $3,675
Montana $4,700
Nebraska $4,770
Nevada $4,380
New Hampshire $6,250
New Jersey $6,875
New Mexico $4,650
New York $4,650
North Carolina $4,150
North Dakota $4,390
Ohio $5,000
Oklahoma $4,495
Oregon $5,030
Pennsylvania $4,700
Rhode Island $6,475
South Carolina $4,270
South Dakota $4,173
Tennessee $4,545
Texas $4,695
Utah $4,150
Vermont $5,170
Virginia $5,080
Washington $5,775
West Virginia $4,650
Wisconsin $5,130
Wyoming $5,050

In Canada, the cost of memory care varies from one province to another province. The following chart gives an overview of the average cost of Alzheimer's and Dementia Care in different locations:

Location Cost starts from
Vancouver, BC 4 388 $
Newmarket, ON 5 500 $
Guelph, ON 4 085 $
Toronto, ON 5 400 $

Memory Care Laws and Regulations

In the USA, all states require memory care facilities to assess residents to determine if their needs can be met and to plan services that meet their preferences. Pre-admission assessment for dementia is a process for planning and providing appropriate dementia care. The availability of qualified and licensed staff is important for quality dementia care.

Twenty-nine states require dementia care units to address at least one of the following: devices for egress controlling, access to outdoor spaces, features of resident room, shared common areas, and floor and wall surfaces, etc.

In June 2017, Canada passed Bill C-233, an act respecting the national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It brings Canada in line with many countries in the world that made dementia a priority. The Act focuses on improving the quality of life of Canadians living with dementia and introducing more effective programs for suffering individuals.

Free Memory Care Resources

If you are a family spouse, friend or parent to an older adult living with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and any form of dementia, you know that caregiving can be challenging, demanding but also highly gratifying and fulfilling.

At Live your retirement, we provide caregivers with a variety of helpful resources for their everyday role of caring for senior loved ones living with memory challenges

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center

This Alzheimer’s Association’s caregiver portal provides access to many tools and resources for help on behaviors, communication, financial and legal matters. You will also find care options and tips on safety issues, activities for your loved one and respite care.

Community Resource Finder

This Alzheimer’s Association tool helps locate resources and programs your own community. Enter your zip code and choose from a list of 20+ categories including senior care attorneys, memory care communities, home health care and many more. You will also find provides links back to many other Alzheimer’s Association resources.

ALZConnected

This Alzheimer’s Association is a virtual community of caregivers, with two sections – message boards and solutions pages. At message boards, members connect with other Alzheimer’s families and discuss topics such as clinical trials, and early onset, etc.

The solutions section allow users to post questions to the community and answer existing questions posted by other members.

Alzheimer’s Reading Room

This most highly rated Alzheimer’s blog by Bob DeMarco is a great source for the latest developments and news in Alzheimer’s world. Bob was his mother’s primary caregiver, so has empathy with other caregivers. 

Alzheimer Society of Canada

The Alzheimer Society of Canada offers a lot of helpful resources for people with dementia, cognitive impairment , caregivers, and health-care professionals.

Music & Memory

This grant-funded program uses music to help patients with cognitive impairment and dementia reconnect with the outside world. They provide each participant with an iPod and a playlist of meaningful music. 

Memory cafes

Memory cafes are social gatherings for people dealing with dementia. All memory cafes are free and accessible, offering activities geared toward cognitive abilities.

There is a wide range of free educational resources available on senior memory care from eBooks and PDFs, to information portals. 

Memory Care Availability and Occupancy Rates

As of January 2019, occupancy in U.S. seniors housing facilities, including memory care housing, averaged 88.0% in the fourth quarter of 2018. It rose up only 0.1 percentage point from the prior quarter and down 0.7 percentage in the past year. The current occupancy rate is 2.2 percentage points below the most recent high of 90.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014.[8]

Around 14.3% of total assisted living units in the USA have a dementia care unit, wing or floor designated, while only 8.7% of these facilities serve adults with dementia.[9]

According to 2018 CMHC Regional Seniors’ Housing Report, in some areas, including Quebec, the vacancy rates for senior care spaces, including memory care facilities, decreased. On the other hand, in provinces such as Ontario, the number remained unchanged, while areas like Alberta and Manitoba experienced growth.

In Ontario, the vacancy rate dropped to a record low of 9.9% from 10.3% last year.[10] In Alberta, the overall vacancy rate for a standard space senior housing decreased from 15.4% in 2018 to 13.8% in 2019. The standard vacancy rate in Calgary reduced from 18.9% to 15.0%, while Edmonton rose from 9.1% to 9.7%.[11]

Choosing a Memory Care Facility

That is best for your senior!

Amenities

All memory care centers provide basic amenities, such as outdoor spaces, activities, etc. Many best memory care facilities additional amenities, including transportation and supervision around the town. Some even invite musical guests and volunteers into the community to entertain seniors.

Read our blog on the connection between music and memory.

Many communities even offer in-house occupational therapy, whirlpool baths, spa, etc. to keep residents happy and healthy. It might seem unnecessary to some, but a few additional activities and spa time go a long way towards happiness.

Personalized Care

Every individual is different, and so are their memory conditions. Every senior dealing with dementia may need treatment different from their peers. That’s why it is important to choose a memory care community that offers personalized care for your senior.

They should get personalized care in everything, from lifestyle to customized levels of assistance, a wide variety of amenities, etc. Truly personalized care keeps seniors happy, healthy, and secure.

Safety

Safety is the primary issue for seniors dealing with any form of dementia. The space they live should ensure their safety and comfort 24 hours of the day. Following tips by the National Institute on Aging’s Home Safety Checklist for Alzheimer’s should be put in action in the memory care center. Most safe spaces should have:

  • Secure locks on doors and windows
  • Operational smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Childproof electric outlets
  • Extension cords tacked to baseboards
  • Proper lighting in high-traffic areas
  • Handrails and grip strips and in stairways

Staff should visit rooms regularly. There should be personal monitoring systems in place to avoid mishaps.

Accessibility

When searching for memory care living for your senior loved one, pay attention to the accessibility. A simple open floor living, clear vision lines, and houseware organization make it easier for seniors with memory issues to navigate in their living space.

It lessens confusion and anxiety they could experience otherwise. There should be an enclosed, secure outdoor area with hurdle-free walking paths.

Check out the design ideas for seniors with dementia.

Attentive and Friendly Staff

Staff with specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia training makes good care providers. They recognize the signs of pain and know how to create solutions for challenges associated with performing daily tasks in dementia patients.

Staff members should be energetic, cheerful, and polite to residents as well as their families.

The meals served at the facility should meet your loved one’s personal preferences and nutria needs.

Social and Recreational Opportunities

Social life and recreational activities are highly effective therapies for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia.

Dementia programming mimics everyday activities, like having a dementia-safe kitchen for cooking. Many facilities provide art opportunities to residences as art therapy can make positive changes in the lives of seniors with Alzheimer’s.

So make sure the memory care facility you choose for your senior provides social and recreational activities.

A Peaceful Atmosphere

An individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias needs a place that offers amenities and activities. At the same time, the place must have plenty of quite, tranquil areas.

Whether it’s a muted interior space or a calm outdoor area, access to peace is hugely beneficial for those experiencing cognitive challenges. It can improve their healing ability, sleep quality, and overall health while reducing apathy and boredom.

Additionally, nature benefits older adults with memory-related conditions live healthy lives. So choose Alzheimer’s care centers that offer plenty of grass, trees, and benches for maximum outdoor enjoyment.

So before you commit to an Alzheimer’s and dementia care facility do in-person research and check things yourself. Visit facilities, check the atmosphere and conditions, and meet staff members. 

If you get a doubtful feeling about the community during your visit, it might not be the right fit for your loved one.

Optional Memory Care Certification

To be certified, Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities have to demonstrate the following:

  • Personalized memory care programs designed especially for those who have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia as per their needs, preferences, and abilities.
  • Advanced and trained staff having competency in current best practices in memory care.
  • The facility should provide socializing and recreational activities.
  • Interior should be designed to be safe, functional, and calm for patients and residents with dementia.
  • Organizing activities with national organizations focused on dementia education.

Questions to Ask A Memory Care Facility

When you consider a memory care community for your senior loved one, make sure the care it provides aligns with their needs. Asking questions to staff and other seniors at the community can help you determine if the community is a great fit for your loved one.

Here are some questions you may ask memory care communities you are considering:

Basic questions:

  • What level of memory care does the facility provide?
  • How does the community describe their dietary regime for residence?
  • What is the monthly rate for care, and does the rate worth the services they provide?
  • Do they provide free access to outdoor areas?
  • Is the community convenient to navigate?

Memory care features & treatments

  • What type of living arrangements do they provide – cottages, apartment or neighborhood style?
  • Do they offer a special memory care dining program?
  • Do they have circular walking paths for residents?
  • Does the community group residents by their cognitive level?
  • Do they offer pet therapy / music therapy / reminiscence therapy?
  • Does the community provide Parkinson’s care / vascular dementia care?
  • Does the community have an assisted living to Alzheimer’s care bridge program for early stage patients?

Community policy

  • Do they perform a thorough assessment before admission?
  • How often do they update families about the well-being of residents?
  • How do they handle medical emergencies?
  • What is their fee structure?
  • What is their discharge policy?

Checking the staff

  • Is the staff fully certified and trained carious memory care techniques?
  • Does the staff appear polite, careful and cheerful?
  • What is the staffing ratio during the day and at night?

Checking safety

  • What are emergency safety arrangements?
  • Is the community secured indoor and outdoor?
  • Are emergency response equipment easily accessible to residence?

Memory Care Facilities by State or Province

The Most Affordable Cities For Memory Care

Rank City State Cost
1 Wilmington NC $3,692
2 Tucson AZ $3,774
3 Tampa FL $3,812
4 Mesa AZ $3,856
5 Orlando FL $4,132
6 Baltimore MD $3,950
7 Fayetteville NC $4,045

References:

  1. Kelli Hansen. April 4, 2016. What Are the Signs of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?, healthline.com
  2. Joseph Gaugler, Bryan James, Tricia Johnson, Allison Marin, and Jennifer Weuve. 2019. 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, alz.org
  3. Alzheimer Society Canada. July 2, 2019. Dementia numbers in Canada, alzheimer.ca
  4. Lisa M. Lines, Joshua M. Wiener. February 2014. Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Alzheimer's Disease, aspe.hhs.gov
  5. Alzheimer's Association®. 2019. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Facts and Figures, alz.org
  6. May 16, 2019. Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care Costs: Home Care, Adult Day Care, Assisted Living & Nursing Homes, dementiacarecentral.com
  7. Sherry Christiansen, August 13, 2018. The Cost of Dementia Care in 2018, alzheimers.net
  8. Mary Ann Donaghy. January 10, 2019. Seniors Housing Occupancy Rate During Fourth Quarter Again Stable at 88%, nic.org
  9. ​National Center for Health Statistics. 2015-2016. Number and Size of Communities, ahcancal.org
  10. Canada Mortgage And Housing Corporation. Seniors’ Housing Report Ontario 2019, cmhc-schl.gc.ca
  11. Canada Mortgage And Housing Corporation. Seniors’ Housing Report Alberta 2019, cmhc-schl.gc.ca