Elderly adults with dementia require specialized care, whether it’s provided in a senior living community or at home. With the right care tailored to their needs, seniors with cognitive decline can age with dignity, enjoyment, and some independence.
Memory care and home care are two common options families explore for seniors with dementia. What services do they provide, and what are the most important factors to consider when making a choice of home care versus memory care for your aging loved one?
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Memory care communities can be stand-alone facilities or part of a senior living community with multiple levels of care. They provide specialized assistance for seniors experiencing memory loss, often due to Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
Dementia care facilities provide many of the same services as assisted living, including help with activities of daily living (ADLs), medication management, and nutritious dining options. They also offer unique features tailored to seniors with cognitive impairment:
Dementia care communities offer memory care activities and therapies designed for residents with all levels of dementia — a major benefit of memory care at a community as compared to in-home care. These structured programs often require specially trained staff and aim to reduce cognitive decline, promote positive reminiscence, and comfort residents:
Innovative design elements and relaxing spaces in dementia care communities can help ease anxiety and agitation common in people with dementia. Some of these unique features include:
The national median cost of memory care was $5,430 a month in 2021. However, prices vary depending on your community and state. For example, median monthly cost in Georgia was $3,995 compared to $8,400 in Vermont, while other states had even higher costs.
For seniors who choose to age at home, professional home care offers companionship, practical help, and peace of mind for caregivers. Care aides can provide help with daily activities as well as social interaction. Levels of care vary by need and can span from a few hours of weekly meal prep and housekeeping to 24-hour supervision.
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While home care aides are trained to understand the nuances of senior care, they usually aren’t licensed to provide medical services. Senior home care services will be determined when you create a care contract, but they often include:
Home care is a common alternative to senior living for elderly adults who can no longer live independently. There are many reasons families may choose home care versus memory care for their elderly loved one:
Budget is often a concern for families choosing between memory care and home care for elderly loved ones. While the cost of a memory care community is greater than the cost of home care, memory care offers more amenities and other significant benefits that home care can’t provide.
In-home care had a national median cost of $27 an hour in 2021 according to Genworth, an insurance company with a focus on long-term care. Hourly pay for a home health aide ranged from $19 in West Virginia to $36 in Minnesota.
For seniors with early stage dementia who don’t require full-time companionship and supervision, home care may be a good choice. However, home modifications, overnight care, and tracking programs can add significant expenses for seniors with more advanced cognitive decline.
While home care can’t provide the structural or design benefits of a memory care community, dementia care at home can help seniors age in place if they have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. To make the right choice for your loved one, it’s important to understand the difference between memory care in a community and a memory home care service.
With the assistance of home care aides, elderly people with early-to-mid-stage cognitive decline may be capable of aging in their own homes or those of family members. For seniors with more advanced dementia, significant adjustments must be made to limit dementia safety risks and age at home:
If you’ve already decided on a type of care, here are a few steps to help determine which in-home care agency or memory care community is most appropriate for your loved one.
It’s vital to work with a home care agency familiar with dementia and Alzheimer’s care, even if your loved one is only experiencing early signs of dementia. Consider these suggestions when hiring an in-home care provider:
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As you’re visiting memory care communities, here are a few questions to ask yourself and the caregivers at these facilities:
While this article explains the differences between memory care and in-home care, it’s important to learn about other senior living options, too. Each has benefits and features that may fit your loved one’s needs.
The following articles compare memory care to other senior care types:
Additionally, A Place for Mom offers a free consultation service that has helped hundreds of thousands of families find senior living for their aging loved ones. Contact a Senior Living Advisor to discuss the needs of your family member and available options near you.
Genworth. (2022, February 7). Cost of care trends and insights.
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The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.