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Memory Care

Memory care services are usually available as specified wings or units within assisted living communities, nursing homes, continuing care communities and other long-term care options. Designed for people needing help with the activities of daily living (ADLs), memory care units feature secure environments, specialized staff, and a range of enriching activities. Many facilities are laid out such that residents retain a level of independence. The activities available are geared toward stimulating the mind in order to slow the further onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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What is Memory Care?

Memory care or dementia care services are designed to help your senior cope with the activities of daily living, especially when dealing with mental issues. While it's normal for memories to become hazy with age, some seniors will need special care in their latter years. Safe environments, adequate staff, and activities designed to stimulate brain function are just a few benefits of memory care.

Comparing Costs of Dementia Care 

Since dementia care units are usually located within a larger assisted living community or others offering continuing care, their prices can vary quite a bit. Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey found that the median cost for a single-bedroom unit in an assisted living community was $3,600 a month, or $43,200 annually. On average, private rooms with 24-hour nursing care throughout the U.S. cost $7,604 a month, coming to around $91,250 annually. Due to the fact that memory care is considered to be more of a service provided than a type of long-term care facility, it is generally safe to conclude that the standing rates for each facility offering this service will be more expensive. 

How to Pay for Dementia Care

Considering that memory care units are offered within assisted living, nursing homes, or continuing care retirement communities, your payment options will correspond to whichever type of facility you choose. To start, Medicare does not usually pay for in-home care or assisted living communities. Nursing care is covered for no more than 100 days, or up to 190 days if an individual requires care through a psychiatric hospital. However, Medicaid provides a waiver program allowing people to receive memory care at home, within assisted or nursing home communities, and other residential options. Eligibility relies on one’s ability or inability to perform ADLs and their income, not necessarily a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Non-Profits, Foundations, and Non-Medicaid Assistance

There are two national organizations offering support through respite care for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Working with families to provide grants, The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) receives funding from its local, non-profit, member-organizations. The Dementia Society can also provide respite grants through its local chapters. 

Other options include Alzheimer’s care loans, assistance through the Veteran’s Association, life insurance conversion plans, or a reverse mortgage.

The VA does have a specific program for dementia and Alzheimer’s, providing reliable ways to receive financial assistance for a long-term care option. While waiting on receiving these funds, a care loan can also be taken out to cover any short-term finances. When your application finally clears, the VA can provide coverage for a range of services for both caretakers and patients.

Non-long-term care life insurance plans provide Alzheimer’s patients with several options. Firstly, it may be possible to request accelerated benefits, also called living benefits. Second, one could sell the policy back to the company in order to receive anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of its original value. The final option is exchanging the policy for the type of care services you need as determined by a third-party company. Essentially, your life insurance is converted into a specific amount of time used toward a future stay in a facility providing memory care.

No matter the type of facility you choose to receive long-term care, it can be an important part of the equation to take a tour and get to know the staff of your new home. Many facilities offering memory care services entail the 24-hour security needed to keep you or your loved one safe. Comfortable rooms and stimulating activities can serve to ease the symptoms of these debilitating diseases, as continued research in the field shows more progress every year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

My mother has been experiencing severe hallucinations and we're scared for her safety. How do we know if it's the right time to move into an assisted living community with memory care?

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that she has seen the right medical professionals in order to pinpoint the cause of her condition. Depending on whether her mental health is a result of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or perhaps another underlying mental illness will affect her ability to move to a memory care community. When searching for the right community, it’s important to understand her needs and whether she’ll be properly accommodated wherever she goes. After a proper diagnosis, our Certified Senior Advisors can make sure her care is appropriate and fit to help her lead a healthy life. 

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My husband has recently become more forgetful and I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I'm scared that it might be Alzheimer's. What are some of the symptoms to look for?

Don’t worry; mild forgetfulness is actually a normal part of growing older for many people. His forgetfulness may even be caused by treatable side effects from medication, or perhaps a vitamin B12 deficiency.

However, there are several other more serious conditions that may induce memory loss. The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s include: confusion during routine tasks or familiar settings, difficulty with spatial judgments, and sharp changes in mood or personality. In any case, scheduling an appointment with your doctor to evaluate his condition is a great way to put your mind at ease.

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Finding the perfect senior care community is only part of making your loved one’s senior living transition smooth. At SeniorCaring, we know that it is also equally important to be aware of what other community services and resources are available to your family’s senior. Choose your location and find local resources for your senior.