Alzheimer's Memory Care: The Top 8 Things to Know As the medical community gets better at recognizing and diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the number of people that need special care is increasing. As many as one in four people over the age of 80 are living with dementia and often require specialized memory care. Some assisted living and skilled nursing facilities have designed separate wings for care. Meanwhile, some standalone facilities have completely dedicated themselves to this type of care. Here are some of the most important things to know about these facilities and the services they offer. Memory Care Facilities Are in Demand With an estimated 5.8 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s, the demand for memory care facilities is increasing. Many facilities have long waiting lists. Current residents often get priority in a larger community, and there are certain units devoted to memory care. They Can Cost More Because of the specialized environment, comprehensive care, and trained staff, memory care can be more expensive than other care. And most families pay for it out of their own pockets, according to Pennsylvania elder law attorney Richard Newman. While costs vary by area and by level of care offered, they can add from $1,000 to $4,000 per month. Meanwhile, on average nationwide, memory care costs at least $1,250 more per month than generalized care. They Offer Enriching Activities and Therapy Research has shown that sensory stimulation and physical and occupational therapies can help slow the progress of dementia. Memory care facilities often feature programs to help residents maintain their functional abilities and prevent decline. Some programs offer music and art therapy, opportunities for exercise, and even cooking classes. Their Schedules Are More Structured Alzheimer’s and dementia patients usually respond well to a structured schedule. Set routines lower patients’ stress. While residents in traditional assisted living are expected to manage their own time, staff in a memory care facility regularly check on residents and help them stick to a schedule. According to RN Megan Carnarius, memory care consultant in Denver, these types of staff ensure that “residents are getting to meals, coming to activities and moving on to the next thing.” Designed to Feel Like a Home Memory care facilities are designed with home-like furnishings and layouts. Patients with dementia need a familiar environment, and a facility that feels like a home instead of an institution can be beneficial. The building or wing’s design can also serve additional purposes. Circular hallways, instead of hallways with dead ends, can relieve frustration if a resident is wandering or lost. Disguising exits as bookcases or different architectural features can discourage exit-seeking behaviors. They Feature Specialty Trained Staff Staff in a memory care facility usually undergo specialized training. In addition to offering help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and medication assistance, these staff have special training to care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This type of training usually focuses on assessing each patient’s personal levels of ability and working with patients to help them perform at the highest level they can. Staff use strategies to enhance communication, build relationships, and diffuse stressful situations. Staff in a memory care unit also know how to expect and handle the impulsivity and reduced safety awareness that dementia can bring. Memory Care Facilities Are Secure Moreover, these facilities are more secure than other communities, since their residents are prone to wander. Most facilities feature door or elevator alarms and exits, locked 24/7. The units are usually smaller and staffed with more employees. The facilities, if they are a part of a larger community, often provide secure outdoor areas like courtyards. This way, residents can enjoy the outdoors safely. They May Offer Day Programs Adult day care programs are also designed for participants who need supervision while their primary caregiver goes to work or needs a break for other reasons. Furthermore, some memory care facilities offer day care programs. Here the visitors can socialize, interact, and even dine with the facility’s permanent residents. Day visitors can often participate in the same enriching activities and therapies that permanent residents do. Is memory care right for you or your loved one? Find out more here.