What are the Best Memory Care Options for Your Aging Loved One?

What is Dementia?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, but there are many kinds.

Some of the other forms of dementia include:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Korsakoff Syndrome

Dementia can cause loss of short-term memory, loss of vocabulary, mood swings, faulty reasoning, comprehension, and physical balance. But some of the biggest issues involve activities of daily living – like eating and regular self-care.

As dementia progresses, an individual can become more at risk for physical harm to themselves (and possibly others). This is one of the main reasons that families look for living options for their loved ones who suffer from dementia.

Is your loved one ready for memory care?

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can live on their own during the early stages of the disease, especially if a family member or paid caregiver provides regular, in-home support. But there may come a time when your loved one needs more care than you feel you can provide at home. Here are some questions to help you determine if it’s the right time for a move:

  • Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in their current home?
  • Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?
  • Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical abilities?
  • Am I becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?
  • Am I neglecting work responsibilities, my family, and myself?
  • Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit the person with dementia?


What Memory Care Options are Available?

Outside of the personal home, there are two types of facilities that can provide memory care services. In Georgia regulations, those two types of memory care residences are:

Regulations are stricter for assisted living facilities and are generally larger facilities. Personal care homes tend to be much smaller and may not provide as many services. But either can serve the full-time needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

Both types of residential facilities provide housing, food, and care services 24 hours per day. Assisted living also provides more specialized services such as help taking medications.

Residents in either type of home must be able to move from place to place on their own. And residents do not require continuous nursing care or physical or chemical restraints. Some medical care may be provided at a Georgia memory care community. Additionally, residents are allowed to contract with third-party healthcare providers if those outside services are beneficial.

Assisted living and personal care residences are not allowed to admit anyone who needs to be isolated or confined because of behavioral problems.

There are more than 350 assisted living communities with memory care in Georgia, according to www.dementiacarecentral.com. There are also around 100 personal care homes. For free helping finding a memory care home to meet your family’s needs and budget, contact Cindy Richards of Best Nest Senior Advisors.

What makes memory care different?

A memory care facility is set up to provide a safe, structured environment with set routines to lower stress for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The staff provides meals and helps residents with personal care tasks, just like the staff at an assisted living facility. But they are also specially trained to deal with the unique issues that often arise as a result of dementia or Alzheimer’s. They check in with residents more frequently and provide extra structure and support to help them navigate their day.

Because individuals with dementia can wander due to confusion, memory care facilities create a secure environment. The security includes alarmed doors, elevators that require a code, and enclosed outdoor spaces to keep residents on the property. Some memory care facilities also offer tracking bracelets to allow residents more freedom to explore but still allows the staff to monitor their location. Often, the memory care facilities are a separated wing or floor of a larger assisted living community.

How much does memory care cost?

Within the memory care environment, activities are designed to improve cognitive function and engage residents at different stages of the disease.

Not surprisingly, the higher level of care and supervision in a memory care unit comes at a price. On average, assisted living costs $4,000 a month, according to a 2018 survey by Genworth, an insurance company that tracks the costs of long-term care. Memory care adds another $1,000 to $4,000 a month. Costs vary from state to state and are affected by the level of care provided.

Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans generally will not pay for room and board or personal care in an assisted living facility, although they will pay for medical care the facility provides. Veterans benefits typically help cover the cost for eligible veterans and surviving spouses who are over age 65. Once your loved one no longer has any assets, Medicaid may offer some coverage for long-term care, but only if the facility accepts it.

Featured Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash