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The 7 Things You Need to Know About Memory Care

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonNovember 4, 2013

The wave of retiring baby boomers is coming, and with it, the number of dementia cases are expected to rise — as is the need for memory care.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and one of the key priorities identified by the National Institutes of Health is to find new interventions and improved treatments for this devastating disease. Learn more about the 7 things you need to know about memory care.

7 Key Facts About Memory Care

One of the tools we already have at our disposal in the Mission to End Alzheimer’s is memory care, a form of senior living which provides long-term, intensive, specialized care to seniors with dementia.

The demand for quality memory care is expected to rise sharply over the coming decades: projections from the World Alzheimer’s Report and the RAND Corporation warn that the number of people with dementia will more than double by the year 2040. Baby boomers, many of whom are already reaching older age, are expected to create a surge of people needing dementia treatment. Luckily, the senior care industry seems ready to meet the coming demand, with new and existing communities involved in the development of more memory care units, according to Senior Housing News.

But what does memory care really mean when it comes to our own loved ones? Read on for a list of critical facts you need to know about memory care:

1. Memory Care is More Expensive, But More Comprehensive

Regular assisted living provides seniors with personal care support, such as meals, help with bathing and dressing, and medication management. It costs, on average, about $3,300 per month for a one bedroom apartment. The average cost of memory care is about $5,000 for a single resident, but such facilities go quite a bit further to effectively provide care for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, with 24-hour supervised care for patients at all stages of the disease.

2.Memory Care Communities are Built for the Specific Purpose of Serving Those with Dementia

The environment is secure, specially designed by dementia experts to reduce the risk of danger from wandering. The hallways and other design features are usually color-coded to assist with navigation and reduce anxiety in residents. A safe environment also encourages residents to remain independent for as long as possible.

3. Memory Care Communities Offer Programs to Help with Behavioral Issues

In addition to leisure programs, therapeutic programs that address memory impairment, wandering and other common dementia behaviors help improve quality of life for residents. “Memory care is evolving as senior living providers are starting to offer more advanced memory care programming that addresses each stage of the disease and personalizes care for each individual,” notes Kelly Scott, Vice President of Program Development and Innovation at Emeritus Senior Living, which has been expanding their memory care services in recent years.

4. Memory Care Improves Safety and Quality of Life for People with Dementia

Communities with memory care programs have reported a higher quality of life in a number of different areas, including reduced medication and medication side effects; fewer falls, injuries, and hospital visits; increased nutrition and wellness; and greater independence and social interaction. As many as three-fourths of residents even experienced improvement or maintenance of mental functioning.

5. Memory Care Serves Families, as well as Those with Alzheimer’s Disease

Knowing that your loved one has trained 24-hour care gives families peace of mind and helps relieve the caregiving burden. Such communities also usually offer specific outreach to families of people with dementia. Says Scott: “We are committed to providing families and caregivers with information and practical tips to help them navigate the various challenges that are common when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.”

6. Memory Care Does not Isolate People with Dementia

Although memory care is often located in a separate unit of a larger assisted living facility, or a dedicated wing of a community offering a continuum of care, specialized social and therapeutic programming ensures that residents are kept engaged and happy.

7. Research and Due Diligence is Paramount When Choosing Memory Care

While it’s true that a quality memory care community will provide education and outreach for families, caregivers also need to do their due diligence in researching whether a particular facility is right for their loved one. Before you make a final decision, consider your loved one’s individual needs, as well as features and treatments available at the community, their policies, their security and safety, what on-site staffing is available, and whether you and your loved one have an overall positive impression of the place. See our memory care checklist for more questions to ask.

Do you have a loved one in memory care? Share your experiences with memory care with us in the comments below.

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Sarah Stevenson
Sarah Stevenson
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