What is a memory care facility?

When a senior is living with Alzheimer’s or varying degrees of dementia they require a different level of care.  They need attentive, expert care in a safe, secure environment.

Sadly, as a caregiver, you may not be able to provide either the time or the optimal environment they need.  In these circumstances, you may need to consider moving them into a memory care facility.

What Is a Memory Care Facility?

A memory care facility is a type of skilled nursing facility that is designed to meet the needs of dementia patients.  It may be it’s own independent building or it may be located within a larger senior care facility.  Often you see them connected to assisted living centers or nursing homes.  There might be a certain floor or wing dedicated to memory care patients.

How Does Memory Care Differ from a Nursing Home?

There are a few key differences:

  • Personnel at a memory care facility receive additional training to deal with issues such as aggression and wandering.
  • Design of the space is more dementia-friendly. You may often see a circular hallway, which feeds their desire to walk in a circle and experience forward progress.
  • Security is tighter to prevent wandering and possibly even leaving the facility.
  • Activities are geared towards the specific needs of dementia patients.
  • Colors and lighting are bright and cheerful to create a homey feel.

What is the Cost?

There are two major challenges with memory care facilities:  Cost and availability

With additional services comes additional cost.  Expect to pay more for memory care!  In 2019, the national average amount paid for a shared room in a skilled nursing facility is $245 per day or $7,441 per month. State daily averages range from $153 – $963.  These prices reflect a SHARED room, however its often recommended that dementia patients have a PRIVATE room.  This would add several hundred dollars more per month!

Another challenge you might face is availability.  Not all nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities offer memory care.  Many people find themselves on waiting lists hoping something becomes available soon.  Quite often the need for beds is far greater than the supply.


How Do You Pay For Dementia Care?

You may have read my previous post titled  “Brace for Impact:  Nursing Homes are Cash-Pay Until You’re Medicaid Eligible”. The article explains how Medicare does not pay for the cost of nursing facilities.  Sadly, it makes no differentiation between dementia patients and other patients.  The costs are, therefore, paid out-of-pocket by draining nest eggs and selling off assets.

Nursing homes only provide “custodial care” and not nursing care.  They help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating which do not required trained medical staff.

Medicaid, however, does pay for nursing home care.  You must first make sure you’re Medicaid eligible.  Second, the facility must accept Medicaid, which not all do.

If you’re a veteran, certain VA benefits may apply toward housing costs. Aid may come from the VA’s  Community Residential Program, which is group care in about 1,300 facilities nationwide, or from  VA Aid and Attendance Benefits, which are available for disabled vets who require extra help.

How Do I Locate a Memory Care Facility in my Area?

A great place to start with anything dementia-related is your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  They are a wealth of knowledge and provide help and resources you may not even know exists.

One such resource is their Community Resource Finder.  This website helps find housing and other great programs and services for families in need.

Find What’s Right For You

If your loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s or early dementia, providing the BEST care may become your biggest challenge.  Memory care facilities provide trained caregivers in a safe environment tailored to the needs of dementia patients.  If you’ve reached this point in care, it may be time to schedule a visit today.

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