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Dementia Care Communities

Aug 5, 2016

Dementia Care Communities

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Aging often brings a natural loss of elasticity both physically and mentally. For many, this can be a slow and even regression. However, people suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can have acute and debilitating symptoms. As these conditions progress, it may become increasingly difficult for you or your loved one to care for themselves without the proper attention of trained memory care professionals.

Facilities specializing in memory care can take varying forms, yet they are all geared toward serving the increasing population of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. In 2015, over 5 million Americans of all ages had some form of Alzheimer’s affecting 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men. As these conditions have no current cure, the demand for memory care facilities will only increase as time goes on, influencing the number of available units and pricing.

Services Provided at Dementia Care Facilities

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.

Common activities at dementia care communities include:

  • Low-impact, physical exercise
  • Music therapy
  • Games, trivia, and puzzles
  • Cooking classes
  • Local community trips
  • Service animal interactions
  • Reminiscing

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, veteran's benefits, 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.

Living in the Community

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 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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I want to make sure that our mother has more than just care for her Alzheimer’s at her new community. What are some activities that people in memory care can enjoy?

Although memory care can be a very intensive experience, there’s no reason that leisure shouldn’t be included! Activities will vary based on each community, however, many communities focus on things to keep seniors intellectually and socially engaged. Depending on an individual’s mobility, they may be able to take part in community outings and group exercise classes. Other activities like gardening, painting, and cooking classes allow seniors to learn new skills while also remaining social.

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