Published On: Wed, Dec 23rd, 2020

What is Memory Care and How Does It Help?

Some assisted living centers, such as Manor Care, offer memory care, but what exactly does that term mean?

Memory Care Defined

Memory care refers to a higher level of care by specially trained nurses, aides, and support staff for center residents with either a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s and a building design that provides a safer environment for residents.

Memory Care

A Higher Level of Medical Care

The added level of medical care provides assistance knowing when meals are served and getting to the meals as well as medication delivery. The staff should have multiple methods for dealing with aggressive residents that extend beyond medicating with anti-psychotics. These medical staff should have special training in multiple forms of communication, for example, using pictures and symbol flashcards so residents who have lost speaking skills can point to pictures of their needs for food, bathroom, shower, etc.

Building and Interior Design

The design of memory care wings or buildings also differs from traditional assisted living facilities. Many memory care centers feature a circular hallway so that residents do not become frustrated or confused at dead ends. These centers mark the rooms with the names and photos of the appropriate resident so they can easily recognize their abode.

Other facility features typically include alarmed doors, computer systems that track resident locations via bracelets they wear, and other design features that allow residents to roam the facility as desired while remaining safe.

Activities and Community

Memory care facilities also offer scaled activities in which the residents can viably participate. These include outdoor exercise in gated yards and crafts they can complete.

The staff uses special strategies to encourage residents to eat regular meals and snacks. This becomes more important as the residents increase in age.

Advanced Medical Care Needs

Some memory care facilities do not offer advanced medical care. When you visit a facility, ask what medical conditions would cause a resident to need to move to a different facility.

Memory Care Costs

Since memory care requires an added level of supervision, it costs more. Moving from regular assisted living to memory care typically adds about $2,000 per month to the care costs.

This cost increase also pays for the fencing required to contain the yard so residents can continue to enjoy the outdoors on their own or with minimal supervision. It also lets the center recover the costs of the renovation to create a memory care wing or for the construction of a separate building. The circular hallways are not typical of most buildings so it is rare for a medical company to purchase an existing building as-is for a memory care facility.

Many people cover the increased cost by combining financial sources. Residents may use Medicare or Medicaid for part of the cost, Social Security, annuity payments, retirement funds, and long-term care insurance to pay for memory care.

The cost depends on your location as well. The San Diego metro area costs a bit more than some areas of the country. Costs would be less in a state such as Idaho, for example.

For those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a memory care facility can help them achieve more fulfillment out of their last years of life. It increases their quality of life while allowing them to retain their dignity and a modicum of independence.