About Memory Care
Memory care is a great option for senior loved ones who have been diagnosed with disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Memory care services provide facilities similar to those that are available in standard nursing homes, but also provide availability to a nursing staff that specializes in memory disorders, and who can provide individuals with the care that they need to live comfortably despite their disease. These facilities benefit from additional security to help ensure the safety of residents and to prevent them from wandering or otherwise harming themselves.
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What is Memory Care?
Memory care, sometimes called dementia care or Alzheimer's care, is offered in State-licensed assisted living residences or in nursing homes, often housed in a special wing with additional security, cueing devices, and other special services. Memory care units ensure that staff is trained to monitor residents and prevent them from becoming disoriented and wandering off the premises. Similar to other long-term care, typical memory care services include:
- A private or semi-private room
- Social, Leisure and Religious activities
- 24-hour staff and security
- Laundry and Housekeeping
- Dining and meal prep
- Medication reminders
- Cognitive and physical therapies
In addition, many of the communities with memory care services offer cognitive therapies and programs meant to keep the brain active and engaged. These facilities are designed to accommodate older adults with progressive cognitive disorders.
How to Determine When It Is Time for Memory Care
It can be easy to notice the symptoms of memory loss and dementia, but the choice to seek help from a memory care facility can be a sensitive topic between families and elders. It is a choice that is essential for the well-being of the loved one and for the safety of others. If several of these situations apply to your loved one, then it may be time to consider a memory care facility:
- Forgotten, misplaced or incorrect dose of medications or supplements.
- Forgotten alarm or gate codes, or forgetting to lock doors at home – being susceptible to crime.
- Getting lost on a familiar route such as a nearby walk or while running usual errands.
- Declining in daily care activities such as bathing, meals, grooming or chores.
- Important information is forgotten such as phone numbers, addresses, bank passwords or other account security information.
- Appliances like a stove or oven have been left on, or running water is left on.
- Personality changes like mistrusting others, confusion, anger, withdrawal or depression.
- Care for the loved one is becoming too involved and interfering with other important responsibilities that the family members have.
Just a few of the situations above can be enough to spark the process of looking at memory care centers and deciding whether a nursing home, adult daycare or assisted living option has the right amenities for the loved one. Not all facilities offer memory care so it is important to keep in mind when exploring these options.
Memory Care vs. Adult Daycare
For those needing memory care, adult daycare provides a chance to be social and to participate in staffed activities such as art, leisure, support and exercise programs. Some centers even offer therapy and basic health services. Like memory care in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, daycare can provide a nice daily break from 24-7 family caregiving. As with all senior care facilities, not all adult daycare centers cater to those with dementia, so it is important to research prior. Adult day care may be paid for completely or in part by Medicaid, long-term care insurance, out-of-pocket or via Veterans benefits. In contrast, Medicare does not typically pay for adult day care services.
What Does Memory Care Cost?
Being one of the most expensive health conditions experienced later in life, most individuals pay for memory care via Medicare, Medicaid and out-of-pocket, among other methods. According to a report released in March 2017 by the Alzheimer's Association, despite support from Medicare, Medicaid and other sources of financial assistance, individuals with Alzheimer's or other dementias still incur very high out-of-pocket costs. The annual average per person out-of-pocket costs for Alzheimer's and other dementias are almost five times higher than average per-person payments for seniors without the need for memory care ($10,315 versus $2,232 per year). The total costs including out-of-pocket and other sources of pay is equal to approximately $341,840 for the total cost of care for an individual living with dementia or Alzheimer's in 2018.
How to Pay for Memory Care
Medicare covers inpatient hospital care, some of the doctors' fees, some prescriptions and other medical needs for people with Alzheimer's or dementia who are age 65 or older. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care in conjunction with memory care under limited circumstances. There are Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) available for individuals with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. SNPs are Medicare Advantage plans that specialize in care and coverage for those with dementia. To learn more information about these services visit Medicare SNP online.
If the individual needing memory care is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), he or she usually is eligible for Medicaid. Those not on SSI must have limited income and assets. Eligibility and benefits are determined by each state. Most people with Alzheimer's or other dementias will eventually need long-term or nursing home care. Medicaid covers all or a portion of nursing home costs, however not all nursing homes accept Medicaid. Most states have home care and community care options for people who qualify. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements
Aid and Attendance Benefit for Veterans
According to the VA website, the Aid and Attendance benefit (A&A) benefit is a special benefit for war era veterans and their surviving spouses. It is a tax-free benefit designed to provide financial assistance to help cover the cost of long-term care in the home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home with memory care. This benefit is for those who live in a nursing home or are mentally or physically incapacitated, or require the regular attendance of another person or caregiver in at least two of the daily activities of living. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and to apply for these veteran benefits visit VeteransAid.org online.
Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is a policy that is purchased through a private insurance company. Similar to health insurance policies, the price varies greatly depending on age, general health and amount of coverage. Coverage could be denied for people with pre-existing conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Not all insurance will deny based on these conditions so it is important to explore different insurance companies.
In situations when costs aren't covered through other means, paying via private funds is an option. Sources of private funds for memory care include retirement accounts and 401Ks, savings accounts, annuities and insurance plans (including life settlements), trusts and stock market investments. Home equity and bridge loans can also be used when transitioning to an assisted living facility or increasing to memory care services. Social Security can be an ideal solution for those who are receiving most of their care through a facility that offers memory care.
Additional Memory Care Resources
- Checklist for Finding the Right Memory Care Community
- Treatments for Alzheimer's
- Understanding Alzheimer's Symptoms
- Starting With Assisted Living or Memory Care- Making the Right Care Choice
- Selecting the Right Memory Care Community
- Signs it May be Time for Memory Care
- What is Alzheimer's and Memory Care