A memory care unit offers housing as well as round-the-clock medical care and facilities for seniors with issues like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The idea is to offer a uniquely designed space that is both safe and functional for residents to live out their days with dignity in peace and tranquility.
The space is designed to reduce confusion (common among Dementia patients), improve quality of life, prevent wandering, and offer excellent medical care.
Key features that make memory care facilities in Baltimore, MD and other parts of the U.S. different from regular senior care are the availability of specialized staff that deals with memory-specific issues, a safe environment, and memory-oriented therapies. Most of these things are not available at a typical retirement home or nursing unit.
Benefits of Memory Care
Memory care is beneficial in that it caters to the unique requirements of seniors with Dementia and other memory issues. There are activities, living arrangements, and therapies to improve cognition so residents can lead safely and happily.
Other than that, here’s why these units make sense –
- A safe and secure place that prevents wandering
- Experienced, dedicated staff specifically trained in dementia care
- Therapies to slow down cognitive decline
- Unique layout and structure to discourage confusion
- Person-oriented care
- Low staff-to-resident ratio
- Care coordination with other health service providers
How Does Memory Care Help with Memory Loss?
By offering a safe and calm space
A regular home is not the safest place for Dementia patients as they are often confused and may wander away. This can be highly dangerous for the person’s safety. Often they get badly hurt and even go missing.
At memory care facilities in Vermont, for example, there are locked exterior doors to make sure no one comes or leaves unnoticed. Some facilities have special doorbells and keypads at exits and entrances to make the monitoring easier for the staff. Residents can spend their time outdoors without worry as courtyards and fences are enclosed and well-guarded. Not all assisted and senior living homes may have such arrangements.
By Promoting Clarity
Confusion and disorientation are also common with memory issues. But, memory-based communities are designed to promote clarity and avoid disorientation. There are personalized apartments to avoid confusion. The spaces are clearly marked, with well-lit rooms and corridors. There are no background noises so residents can live peacefully. Overall, such an environment promotes a sense of calmness, safety, familiarity, and tranquility.
With Specialized 24-hour Care
As mentioned, medical staff at memory care units go through a special kind of training to cater to memory issues. They are always there to offer round-the-clock. There’s a big focus on encouraging independence for each resident to the best of their abilities while receiving proper care and support they need.
The facilities are never understaffed which means residents get to have more personal and social interaction with caregivers. This allows the staff to better understand each person’s needs. Social activities and fun games like puzzle-solving and art classes help stimulate memory.
Memory care staff also receive training to manage other symptoms like combative and difficult behavior in a compassionate and kind manner with proper techniques.
Coordinates Care for The Residents
A lot of memory and Alzheimer’s care communities have close ties with hospitals and other healthcare providers. This ensures that residents can get access to all kinds of medical care and not just for memory issues. As part of care coordination, a memory care unit may include the following –
- Coordination care with other key players like primary care physicians, dentists, cardiologists, podiatrists, and more.
- Coordinated at-home health appointments for seniors who may be recovering from some injury or illness.
- Availability of transport to go for medical appointments.
- Diabetes support and medication management.
- On-site rehabilitation services like occupational, speech therapy, and physical therapy thus ensuring easy access to myriad therapies.
- Coordination hospice care for patients who might need it
Cost of Memory Care
On average, memory care can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 a month. Memory care in New Mexico, for example, can cost from $2,506 to $8,040 per month. The price can go higher based on the services available. Also, prices vary significantly based on care provided, amenities, and location. Services like meals, group activities, and medication management are common but others may be optional based on pricing.
For example, there may be access to lunch outings, laundry services, beauty trips to manicures, haircuts, and pedicures. These services would cost extra. Another factor controlling the price is the type of accommodation you pick. Living with a roommate would be more expensive than living in a studio or a one-bedroom apartment. On average, memory care facilities are priced higher than other types of senior living and can be close in cost to luxury senior living communities.
Supportive Therapies for Memory Issues
As mentioned, memory care units have a lot of supportive activities and therapies to lessen the effects of dementia. Therapies help by inducing relaxation, reducing confusion/agitation, and improving overall mood.
Here are some of them you can expect –
- Music therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Pet therapy
- Reminiscence therapy
- Art therapy
Does Insurance Cover Memory Care?
It may, yes! But, you should know that health insurance typically does not pay for long-term memory care. However, it may cover palliative care and nursing homes. The exact details would be based on your policy. You can, however, consider other programs and options, such as –
- Disability insurance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans’ Affairs
- State Health Insurance Program
- Retiree Medical plan or group employee coverage
- A group employee plan or retiree medical coverage
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
It’s always better to work with a financial planner or an estate planning attorney to plan for long-term care.
How to Know if Your Loved One Needs Memory Care?
Although there’s no concrete rule to determine now’s the time, there may be a few common factors to watch out for –
- Safety – Does the elderly in your house need constant supervision? Do they tend to wander off?
- Health – How are they doing health-wise? Do they need intense special care and help with medication?
- Engagement – Are they active enough to partake in meaningful activities and social interaction?
- Care – Is the elderly able to dress, clean, bathe, shave, and feed themselves?
- Caregiver – Is the caregiver in the family constantly exhausted and burnt out?
Tips for Choosing The Right Facility
It’s crucial to compile a list of possible facilities and arrange for visits. Whether you are looking for memory care in Michigan or any other part of the U.S., be sure to ask questions to residents and staff members. Get a feel of the environment. Look into safety measures, cleanliness, food menu, etc.
Aks questions like –
- What all is included in the monthly fee?
- Is there availability of transportation for medical appointments?
- Is there a courtyard for residents to hang out?
- What’s the social calendar like?
- Is coordinated care available?
The most important thing is to look for features that would help the person. Also, do not overlook the happiness quotient. Always pick a facility that has a feel-good vibe.
Finding the right memory care may take some planning, research, and time. But, with the right preparation and mindset, you can find the best facility for your loved ones.