If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, you have a lot of information and feelings to process.
Perhaps the most pressing concern you might have is about your loved one’s safety, especially if they live at home alone or with a partner. Cognitive decline can make it more difficult to keep up with health and safety tasks at home, including meal preparation, making safe decisions, and even choosing weather-appropriate clothing.
Fortunately, there are many resources available in your local area that can help you with your safety concerns. They can also point you in the right direction to help your loved one be as healthy and happy as possible.
You can often find support through your area’s senior resource centers and your city’s senior health department. However, perhaps the best resources for current and future needs are memory care communities. Memory care communities offer personalized assistance that adapts to your loved one’s needs throughout the dementia process. These specialized communities focus on overall safety, health, and wellness for the residents who live there.
If you’re curious if a memory care community could be the solution to your current or future situation, begin your journey with research and education. Here are a few things you should know about memory care, including the costs associated with it.
What Is Memory Care?
When your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you can quickly feel overwhelmed by all the options available to assist them and your family through the disease. However, it’s often much too early to commit to a memory care community or other senior living solution. In many cases, the initial care and support falls on family members.
You might find yourself thrust into a caregiving role, whether it is through in-person visits with your loved one or by coordinating care from miles away. You aren’t alone. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that nearly 11 million Americans provide some type of unpaid care to people living with dementia. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting and not always sustainable in the long-term for you or your loved one.
That’s where memory care communities come into play.
Memory care communities are designed to provide the care your loved one needs in a community setting that feels relaxed and comfortable. Typically regulated and licensed as an assisted living community, memory care communities are set up to feel as cozy as home, complete with specially trained team members who understand best practices of dementia care.
Memory care communities provide personalized care with just the right amount of assistance to encourage independence while focusing on all aspects of wellness. Exceptional communities also offer support and education specifically for family members and friends, making the community a safe spot to land for everyone in the whole family—not just the resident.
Some family members are nervous about inquiring about memory care simply because they believe they cannot afford it. Fortunately, most are pleasantly surprised to discover that memory care costs can fit into their financial goals.
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The Cost of Memory Care
As with other senior living solutions, memory care communities typically charge a monthly fee that is relatively all-inclusive.
What does the monthly fee for memory care typically include?
Monthly fees include a spacious apartment (typically one-bedroom or studio options are available) as well as three meals prepared fresh and served daily in the community’s social dining room. But the monthly fee covers more than just those two features. It can also include access to therapeutic programming throughout the day that is designed to enhance quality of life, cognitive skills, physical wellness, and socialization.
Monthly fees also include all aspects of care provided in the community, including around-the-clock specially trained caregivers and nurses. In addition, monthly fees cover personalized care, including assistance with activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene, dressing, and more. Features such as medication management and personalized care plans offer reassurance to family members that their loved one is safe and well cared for.
What should I ask about memory care community fees?
When touring memory care communities near you, make sure you ask about the monthly fee as well as what that fee covers. In many cases, the only additional fees you might see could be associated with higher levels of care or additional supplies the community might need in order to best care for your loved one. You can also inquire about ways to offset costs available to your loved one, such as long-term care insurance or Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits.
Benefits of Memory Care
While the cost of memory care might feel like a large financial commitment, the benefits are well worth it for both your loved one and your entire family.
What’s so special about memory care communities?
The types of care and intervention offered in a memory care community typically do not happen in a home environment, even if there is a full-time, around-the-clock caregiver available.
Memory care communities are designed to serve those living with cognitive decline, making them highly specialized environments. Team members have tailored skills and take initial training, as well as ongoing education courses, all about the dementia disease process, positive interventions, and other best practices of care. Residents are also given personalized care based on a customized individual care plan, developed by nurses and reviewed by the full interdisciplinary team regularly.
What advantages does my loved one get from a memory care community versus living at home?
Benefits of memory care communities can include:
- Better nutrition thanks to chef-styled meals and personalized dietary adaptations, as needed
- Decreased anxiety thanks to personalized interventions based on each resident and their unique history and preferences
- Ability-based, failure-free, specialized programs and activities designed to retain cognitive function
- More frequent communication with the individual’s medical team, which can lead to earlier diagnosis of illness or new conditions
- Increased socialization daily with neighbors, visitors, and team members
- Less risk of falling thanks to environmental design crafted with safety in mind for people with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
- Specialized programs and activities that are designed to retain cognitive function
What are the advantages for the families whose loved ones are in memory care communities?
Memory care residents are able to find someone there to offer assistance or a friendly smile whenever they need it, and family members are able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing their loved one is safe, healthy, and happy.
Family members can also learn more about the disease and find the support they need through educational presentations and support groups held right in the memory care community.
What’s My Next Step?
It’s never too early, or too late, to begin researching memory care communities near you. In fact, if your loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, bringing them along to investigate memory care solutions empowers them to be a part of their future care plan.
You can learn more about memory care pricing by downloading our free resource, The Insider’s Guide to Memory Care Pricing.
Originally published October 2021. Revised August 2023.