Medicare covers inpatient hospital care and some of the doctors' fees and other medical items for people with Alzheimer's or dementia who are age 65 or older. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care under limited circumstances. However, custodial long-term nursing home care is not covered.
Both assisted living and memory care are residences that offer 24-hr personal care assistance as well as meals, social activities and other amenities. However, memory care is intended only for persons with dementia, usually related to Alzheimer’s Disease but also dementia from Parkinson’s, Huntington's and most other forms of dementia.
There are several differences between assisted living and memory care. Typically, the staff-to-resident ratio in memory care is lower. Security in memory care is increased; external access is restricted to prevent wandering. Different types of recreational activities are organized with fewer offsite outings. Consequently, memory care is more expensive than assisted living by approximately 25%.
What is Memory Care?
Although assisted living communities may have memory care on the premises, the two types of care are not synonymous. Memory care is a distinct form of long-term skilled nursing that specifically caters to patients with Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other types of memory problems.
A memory care communities offers an individualized approach to dementia care that caters to the specific needs of each resident – sometimes within its own facility but often as part of a larger community setting – and one that provides a safe, structured environment staffed by those specifically trained in memory impairment. \
Memory care communities offer residents help with bathing, grooming, and other daily tasks, as well as secured areas that allow safe movement without the risk of wandering off, and activity areas that are purposefully calming and uncluttered.
Generally, if a person is no longer able to care for him or herself and cannot be safely cared for by an untrained family member or loved one because of Alzheimer or other forms of dementia, memory care may be a good option.
IN TEXAS, assisted living facilities have to be licensed and this includes facilities that provide memory care. There is also a separate certification for facilities that provide care to patients with Alzheimer's and related diseases in the state of Texas.
About Memory Care
Memory care facilities may provide private rooms, rooms with roommates, or private apartments. Memory care staff usually specialize in caring for people with impaired mental and memory function due to Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, and the services they offer may range from light housekeeping and help with both household chores and intimate hygiene activities to skilled nursing care.
The layout and function of a memory care facility will usually be different than that of a regular nursing home or assisted living facility. The floor plan is generally set up to discourage wandering behavior, which Alzheimer's patients are especially susceptible to at night. It is supervised and monitored on a 24 / 7 basis, often by both security teams and medical staff. Hallways, rooms and buildings may be locked or otherwise secured so that residents cannot endanger themselves by leaving the building at night.
Memory care facilities often employ more staff in general than assisted living or other more general facilities, because so many different types of services are needed on a 24 / 7 basis.
These facilities also require a larger ratio of skilled medical staff who can help administer medicines because it can be difficult for Alzheimer's patients and other sufferers of dementia to remember which medications to take and whether or when to take them as well as serve the diverse medical needs of those suffering from cognitive disease. This is just one factor contributing to the cost of memory care.
What Does Memory Care Costs?
Because these facilities provide such a broad range of services, they can be quite expensive compared to general assisted living facilities although your costs can vary depending on where you live and the services offered. According to Genworth.com the average cost for memory care in Texas is as follows:
Average Monthly: $4,520
Monthly Minimum: $1,950
Monthly Maximum: $6,300
Some memory care facilities have programs that are designed to help reduce the symptoms of cognitive disorders and slow the progress of Alzheimer's and dementia. Symptoms such as sundowning, when an Alzheimer's patient grows increasingly agitated and aggressive at night, as well as wandering and general aggression can also be relieved or reduced in the right facility with staff trained to handle and defuse these symptoms.
Benefits of Memory Care Communities
Often, cognitive therapy is
available as well. Memory care communities will frequently have visiting
psychiatrists or psychologists who specialize in dementia treatment
and alleviation, and who can advise regarding appropriate
medications as no Alzheimer's or dementia patient is the same, and
getting the combination of medications right can be a challenging
trial and error process.
Most memory care communities also include sensory and social stimulation programs such as games, art or music classes, and other activities. Memory care facilities often try to provide opportunities for residents to interact with groups for socialization purposes. These activities keep the patient's minds active and occupied, reducing aggressive symptoms and agitation.
If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia; and if they can no longer be cared for safely at home, a memory care unit may be a good option.
Memory care communities are equipped to provide the supervised, round-the-clock care that many patients suffering from impaired cognition need as well as the safety, security, and socialization programs that can make their lives richer and fuller, despite their illness.
In closing, it's very important that you understand the differences between assisted living and memory care so you can ask the right questions when inquiring. You'll feel better knowing you're making the best decision possible for your loved one. This knowledge also shows the facility you've done you're homework, that as a consumer and family member, you know and understand the differences.
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