As seniors age, it is normal to become slightly forgetful or to need help with certain basic tasks. As we get older, our bodies and our minds slowly begin to deteriorate, but for some seniors, it is more than just a simple bout of age-related forgetfulness. A certain percentage of the elderly population will suffer from memory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or chronic memory loss. For those who suffer from such conditions, specialized care is often required. Memory care has been developed as the answer for seniors who suffer from memory conditions who are also in need of dedicated care.
Definition of Memory Care
Memory care for senior citizens is a very specific form of long-term care. This care is designed to meet the specific needs presented by a senior who suffers from a memory condition. Common memory conditions are dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic memory loss, and several others.
The term memory care is a gentle way to say specialized care for those with memory problems. This care comes in many forms. It can be provided in the home, but it is most often offered in a specific facility or wing of senior living communities. The living settings are arranged in a specific way for seniors who have dementia or other memory conditions. The living arrangements help caregivers and nurses with the ability to meet the needs of a senior in a way that minimizes the triggers of their disease.
Memory care is most often offered in assisted living homes, memory care communities, and nursing homes. There are also communities dedicated to memory care where all residents suffer from at least one form of memory condition. Many senior living complexes or even retirement homes may also offer memory care services for those in the earlier stages of their condition.
As memory conditions progress, seniors will need more attention and specific types of care to ensure their safety. Memory care offers secure living arrangements, 24-hour monitoring, and highly trained staff. Special therapies and activities to maintain active brain function are also common in memory care facilities.
How to Pay for Memory Care
When you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory issues, it can take a toll on your life. The emotional toll of living with a memory condition can’t be measured, but the financial toll can easily be tracked. The cost of living as a retired senior is pretty high, and adding in the cost of medical treatment only increases that amount. Thankfully, there are many options available for seniors who are interested in memory care.
The cost of living in a retirement home or even an assisted living home is much lower than memory care due to the highly trained caregivers, nurses, and also the specialized facilities. Seniors who suffer from memory conditions need more consistent care in addition to added security in and around their living areas. Memory care resident's behavior can range from simple forgetfulness to wandering, and in some cases, it can even become violent. Those suffering from memory conditions may be a hazard to those around them as well as themselves, which is why memory care facilities are much more specialized than regular elder care homes. Due to the increased number of resources devoted to those in memory care, it is natural for the cost to also be higher.
The cost of memory care will vary from person to person and even from state to state. The level of care needed and the type of facility a person resides in will also play a part in the overall cost. On average, the cost of memory care per senior is around $6,000 per month. This can be higher or lower depending on various factors.
There are many ways to go about arranging payment for memory care. In most cases, a combination of payment sources tends to be the most efficient. Commonly, families will use a mixture of long-term care insurance paired with the government help to cover the bulk of the expenses.
Long-term care insurance and some forms of life insurance will help cover the cost of memory care if you are enrolled in the plans prior to being diagnosed. Most people will start on a long-term care plan when they are a few years away from retirement, which is typically well ahead of any age or memory-related complications. Check your life insurance policy to see if you have been paying for accelerated death benefits. If so, you can use funds from your expected life insurance payout to cover medical expenses such as memory care while you are still alive.
Medicare and Medicaid are government-funded programs that help seniors with fewer resources to pay for their medical care. Depending on the income level of your loved one, or yourself, either one or both options may be available. Many seniors also use their Supplemental Security Income payments to help cover the cost of memory care. Depending on the circumstances, the entire cost of memory care may be covered.
Amenities in Memory Care Communities
Senior living homes such as retirement homes assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer many of the same services and amenities for their residents. Memory care homes or locations that offer memory care services will also feature common amenities shared with other senior living communities. You can expect seniors to be provided with room and board, prepared meals, help with grooming and basic tasks as well as guided social activities and physical therapy programs.
Aside from the basics, memory care communities will also offer unique services and amenities to their residents. These are tailored to meet the unique needs that come with caring for seniors who suffer from conditions such as dementia, long term memory loss, chronic memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory care patients are more prone to wandering, confusion, or even violent behavior due to their conditions. Memory care communities will offer a higher level of security to keep their residents safe from external and internal hazards. The layout of memory care communities is much different than traditional senior care homes. The layout is more intuitive and has fewer halls and doors in which residents may become lost. There may be guided lines on the doors and walls, and often, there are labeled directions placed around the facility to help seniors stay oriented.
Along with prepared meals, memory care communities will help residents stay on track with their medications by offering reminders or by having a nurse or caregiver dispense them on schedule. Staying active and social plays a big role in memory care. Dedicated communities will have a wide assortment of programs and activities that keep seniors present and engaged. For dementia patients, it is common for those in the middle and late stages to suffer from bouts of anger or even violence. The caregivers are trained to help diffuse such episodes and to help keep the resident and those around them safe until the outburst has passed.
Depending on the type of facility, there may even be medical care professionals on-site to help manage some of the more intense needs of those in memory care. The health and care needs of seniors suffering from a memory care condition are diverse, so it is important to choose a facility that can accommodate the specific needs and dementia / Alzheimer’s stage of the resident prior to enrollment.
Memory Care Costs State by State
The cost of memory care varies from state to state and also according to the type of facility a person chooses. The cost can also change according to the level of care required and the type of room requested. On average, the cost of a single bedroom in a dedicated memory care community is $5,750 per month. This may be higher in some states and lower in others. We have put together a list of costs per state for memory care below.
- Alabama $4,220
- Alaska $6,850
- Arizona $4,570
- Arkansas $4,210
- California $4,900
- Colorado $4,900
- Connecticut $6,730
- Delaware $6,900
- Florida $4,300
- Georgia $4,000
- Hawaii $5,140
- Idaho $4,400
- Illinois $5,230
- Indiana $4,850
- Iowa $4,600
- Kansas $5,340
- Kentucky $4,520
- Louisiana $4,180
- Maine $5,970
- Maryland $5,060
- Massachusetts $6,460
- Michigan $4,400
- Minnesota $4,600
- Mississippi $4,300
- Missouri $3,650
- Montana $4,700
- Nebraska $4,780
- Nevada $4,390
- New Hampshire $6,240
- New Jersey $6,880
- New Mexico $4,690
- New York $5,290
- North Carolina $4,190
- North Dakota $4,390
- Ohio $5,050
- Oklahoma $4,500
- Oregon $5,050
- Pennsylvania $4,700
- Rhode Island $6,470
- South Carolina $4,270
- South Dakota $4,170
- Tennessee $4,550
- Texas $4,700
- Utah $4,130
- Vermont $5,150
- Virginia $5,080
- Washington $5,775
- West Virginia $4,550
- Wisconsin $5,150
- Wyoming $5,150
These averages are based on a single private room in a dedicated memory care community. The numbers are for moderate levels of care, room and board, and no luxury add-ons. Some locations may offer higher levels of care, dedicated medical support, or even experimental treatment options that can change the monthly cost per resident. It is important to only view these averages as a guide when making your choice of where to seek long term memory care.
Questions to Ask During Your Memory Care Facility Tour
Choosing to enter a memory care community yourself or for your loved one is never easy, but with the right facility, the overall quality of life can improve greatly. Finding a memory care facility to meet your needs takes time and effort, but the proper search will yield the perfect home to meet your needs.
Always check the certification of any facility that you may be considering. Seniors with memory conditions are especially vulnerable and it is important that you choose a reliable community that best serves their needs. Look for trained caregivers, diverse social and physical activity programs, patient staff and a lower resident to staff ratio.
Once you have a list of your top 5 or even top 10 facilities that you are interested in, make a point to set up a time to visit each location. Visiting a memory care community in person will allow you to get a better sense of how the staff and residents interact as well as give you a peek into the existing community. Moving into a new home is hard for anyone, but it can be even more of a challenge for seniors who suffer from a memory condition.
During your memory care community visit, there are a few questions you should ask the enrollment manager or resident relationship agent to ensure the location would be a good fit:
- What memory care training do your caregivers have?
- Does the facility accommodate diabetic care?
- What type and level of care are offered in this facility for dementia patients?
- Does the facility accommodate mobility issues?
- What are your methods of coping with aggressiveness or wandering?
- What are your monthly rates for room and board?
- What is included in your basic rate?
- What housing options are available and how do the rates differ?
- May I hire additional private care aides?
- What type and level of care are offered in this facility for Alzheimer’s patients?
- Is there any restriction regarding visitors or visiting hours?
- What type of personal assistance is offered?
- Do you have plans in place for medical emergencies?
- What are the qualifications of the medical personnel on your staff?
- Do you have discharge policies? What are they?
- What social programs does the facility offer?
- What are your security arrangements?
- How do you handle lost or missing patients?
- Are special dietary concerns such as vegetarian or kosher meals accommodated?
- What type and how many meals are provided?
- What is the resident to staff ratio in the evening?
- Is laundry service included in the rate or separately?
- Are religious services offered at the facility?
- Are pet services offered, and is the memory care facility pet friendly?
- What are your housekeeping rules? Is the rate separate?
- How are residents grouped? By condition or cognitive level?
- What is the resident to staff ratio in the daytime?
- What activities does the facility offer?
- How are changes to a resident's care made or approved?
- Who is tasked with communicating with the family or guardian about the resident’s well-being?
- What exercise programs and physical therapy programs does the facility offer?
These are only some of the questions you should ask during your visit. If you have specific concerns or if you have questions regarding programs that are exclusive to the memory care location, during your visit is the best time to bring them up. Never feel rushed to choose a memory care home for your loved one. It is harder to move a senior once they get settled, especially when they are battling with a memory care condition. If possible, take your loved one with you when visiting each facility to get their feedback about their future home.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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