Memory Care Explained
When your memory-impaired loved one can no longer live alone, moving to a memory care facility is an option worth considering. Memory care facilities are specially designed to meet the needs of adults with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Staff members undergo special training to help with communication and to help residents manage dementia symptoms like sundown syndrome, wandering, or combativeness. Staff should also be trained in recognizing signs of pain and in safety procedures.
Sometimes memory care communities are part of a larger assisted living community -- you might find an assisted living facility with a special memory wing, unit, or "neighborhood." Some of these communities keep memory-impaired residents separate from other residents; some provide opportunities to interact and share meals and activities.
In other cases, memory care communities are entire residential communities set up to cater to the unique needs of memory-impaired residents.
Alzheimer's care communities and memory care facilities usually provide:
- Room and board
- Engaging, meaningful activities
- Assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, walking, and eating
- Security and safety precautions to prevent wandering
Most memory care communities are nonmedical facilities. While they may have medical staff on call, they might not have nurses, certified nursing assistants, or doctors on site at all times.
The cost of living in a residential memory care community is usually between $3,000 and $7,000 per month. Medicare and Medigap don't pay for residential care in a memory care community. For more ideas about how to pay for memory care, see How to Pay for Assisted Living.
Making a decision about moving a loved one to residential care is never easy. First, you'll want to talk to your loved one's doctor to understand her diagnosis and prognosis, so you can understand what kind of care she needs now and what kind of care she's likely to need in coming months and years. To help you evaluate whether your loved one needs more assistance, be sure to see our checklist: Signs Someone With Alzheimer's Needs Assisted Living.
To find a memory care facility near you, search by zip code here in the Caring.com Memory Care Directory. Be sure to look for reviews of memory care facilities written by other family caregivers.
Once you've chosen a few memory care communities to tour, use this Memory Care Checklist: What to Look for, What to Ask to help you know what questions to ask to find the place that's best for your loved one.