Many families dealing with a dementia diagnosis find it can become impractical and even unsafe to continue providing at-home care, especially as symptoms progress. Memory care provides specialized help for people living with dementia, often within a unit or “neighborhood” of a larger long-term care facility, but sometimes at a standalone home. Some key differences elevate memory care beyond what residents typically find within basic assisted living.
Enhanced Safety Measures | Six out of 10 people living with dementia wander, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which can present serious safety concerns for these folks and their caregivers. To help ensure patient safety, memory care neighborhoods typically have alarmed doors, enclosed outdoor spaces and restricted elevator access. They also often provide wearable tracking devices to enable staff to monitor a patient’s location.
Specially Trained Staff | Memory care staff provides help with the same activities of daily living that assisted living facilities offer—and then some. Because dementia can spawn a host of behaviors including aggression, anxiety, anger, confusion and repetition, memory care providers should be well trained and rehearsed in how best to approach difficult situations.
Established Structure and Routines | While assisted living facilities enable residents to set their own schedules, people living in memory care have more oversight with mealtimes and moving from one activity to the next. Memory care facilities should ideally have circular hallways to guide residents back to their rooms and doors well-labeled with words and pictures to ease navigation, says the American Association of Retired Persons.
Increased Expense | Because of the higher level of attention that memory care offers, it generally carries a higher price tag than some other types of long-term care. While costs vary widely by location, the average monthly rent for memory care is about $6,000 to $9,000, versus $5,000 to $7,000 for assisted living. Memory care still typically costs less than skilled nursing.
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