Memory Care

Memory care describes the type of long-term care that helps those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care is either offered at a stand-alone community, or as an add-on service at some assisted living facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and nursing homes.

Table of Contents

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care describes the type of long-term care that helps those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care may be provided in a stand-alone memory care community, or offered as an add-on service at an assisted living facility, continuing care retirement community, or nursing home.

What Do Memory Care Communities Look Like?

Much like in assisted living communities, memory care community residents live in private or semi-private accommodations, ranging in size from shared small bedrooms to large individual apartments (without kitchens). Memory care centers and memory care units always feature secured areas, a key difference from a typical assisted living community. These security measures allow residents with declining memories to walk around safely, without accidentally wandering away from the building. Some communities even provide secured outdoor spaces in courtyards or gated areas.

In addition to personalized care, these communities cater their programming and environments to specifically address memory issues. For example, staff may put personalized memory boxes outside of each unit to help residents remember which room is theirs. Many memory care communities will incorporate activities and spaces – such as dolls, kitchens, and workbenches – intended to mentally bring residents back to a more engaging time in their lives. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can “actively live” in a time gone by, and these references may bring them comfort.

Memory care centers may be stand-alone facilities, or part of a larger senior community campus that provides other levels of care such as:

Adult daughter happily embracing her senior mother.

Though they are typically located in or near residential or urban areas, residents do not have the freedom to come and go at their leisure in a memory care facility. Security is tighter, and residents are more closely monitored in an effort to prevent wandering. However, friends and family are welcome and encouraged to pick up a resident for an outing or appointment.

Family members can feel at peace knowing that their loved one is safe, secure, and that emergency help is nearby if needed.

What Is It Like to Live in a Memory Care Community?

Residents at memory care communities are more closely monitored than in assisted living. Not only is there a greater staff-to-patient ratio, but security is tighter and residents may be limited to certain higher-secured areas. In addition, all staff members are specially trained for memory care, and work to keep residents stimulated, on task, and calm.

Lifestyle

Most communities offer a full range of on-site amenities, such as beauty salons, activity rooms, and recreation areas. They typically contain dining and common spaces where residents can gather and socialize with visiting loved ones, along with secured outdoor areas like courtyards and gardens. Their spaces tend to be more controlled, and more intimate than other areas within an assisted living community.

The programming of a memory care unit or memory care community centralizes on the needs of those suffering with dementia. It is intended to create predictable routines and limit disorientation. Caregivers in these centers will often go through training to help manage residents’ fall risks, agitated states, confusion and disorientation, and other unique behaviors and challenges of this population.

Services

Memory care communities offer supervised care around-the-clock by staff trained specifically to treat those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memory care treatments are provided, as are meals and assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and medication administration.

Other services typically covered include:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Fitness programs
  • Transportation

Is a Memory Care Community Right for My Loved One?

Consider these statements below to determine if a memory care community may be beneficial for your loved one:

  • I’ve noticed the stove gets left on and basic housekeeping is not kept up
  • My loved one forgets names of people they’ve known for a decade
  • My loved one gets lost and doesn’t know how to get home
  • My loved one often gets agitated and disoriented
  • I no longer feel that my loved one is safe in their environment
  • My loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • My loved one’s needs cannot be met easily through myself, friends, and family
  • I am worn out tending to the needs of my loved one

If most or all of the above statements apply – and your loved one does not require regular nursing or medical care – then a memory care community may be a good option.

If most or all of the above statements apply – and your loved one DOES require regular nursing or medical care – consider…

Still not sure? Take our Care Assessment to see what care level may be best.

Cost of a Memory Care Community

Costs of memory care communities are generally greater than senior living options such as independent living and assisted living, due to the higher staff-to-patient ratio. However, costs range depending on the level of care needed. Costs will also vary based on:

  • Community location
  • Amenities
  • Type and size of residence

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the National Monthly Median cost of assisted living care in the United States is $4,051. Memory care is typically 20%-30% more expensive.

Questions to Ask When Researching Memory Care Communities

Financial

  • Is there an entrance fee?
  • What is the monthly fee, and what does it cover?
  • What other services are provided at an additional cost?

Social

  • What types of programming do they have?
  • What types of therapy, physical activity, and other activities do they offer?

Environmental

  • Does it appear to be a warm and comfortable setting?
  • Do the residents seem well cared for?
  • Are residents in their rooms alone, or out in the communal areas?
  • Is the community well secured?
  • Visit during off hours (like in the evenings or on weekends). Does the community still look as well maintained and organized as it did during daytime hours?

Medical

  • Does the community cater to special care needs (diabetes, mobility issues, physical aggressiveness, for example)?
  • What medical services are available?
  • What is the policy for handling medical emergencies?

Staffing

  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Is someone available 24 hours a day?
  • What is the staff-to-patient ratio?
  • What is the average length of employment for the community?

Licensing and Inspection Requirements

Memory care communities fall under most state guidelines as assisted living. Find more information about assisted living facilities in your state below:

Ready to start the search? Find memory care options in your area:

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.

– Marge Kennedy