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Memory Care Options for Dementia Patients

Posted by Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. | Mar 04, 2021

Many residential facilities offer memory care for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Besides supervision, personal and medical support, and recreation, memory care includes cognitive therapy to keep people with these conditions active.

While you compare your options, factors to consider include how much support the person needs, the levels of service and care available, and the costs involved.

Residential Memory Care Facilities

People with early-stage dementia may be able to live on their own or with a caregiver. In the middle and advanced stages, in-home support might not be enough. From small homes to large communities, many memory care centers are available depending on your needs and budget:

1. "Board and care" homes - These small, private residential facilities or group homes usually care for 20 or fewer residents in shared or separate rooms. The staff provides round-the-clock personal care and meals for more one-on-one attention. These facilities don't usually offer on-site nursing or medical care. In a group home, two or more staff members may be present, with at least one there all the time.

2. Assisted living facilities with memory care units - These centers offer rooms or apartments for people with dementia who need daily care with staff supervision. The number of residents can range from 25 to over 100. Different levels of care may be available. The staff has been trained in dementia care and provides more structured support than at typical facilities. The care may include providing meals, security, and recreational activities, help with personal care, medications, and housekeeping. Some facilities use tracking bracelets to let residents move around under staff supervision.

3. Nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities - These centers provide regular care for people who can't do so themselves and offer more medical and personal support than assisted living. Beyond regular meals and 24-hour supervision, rehabilitation services may also be available. Some nursing homes have dementia care units in a separate on-site location.

4. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) or life care communities - CCRCs offer rooms, apartments, or homes where people with dementia can receive regular care or care for themselves. Throughout different stages of dementia, residents can move from living on their own to more supervised care. Independent housing, assisted living, and skilled nursing care may be available. Besides regular meals and care, these facilities provide recreational activities.

For a directory of state-licensed and regulated housing and care providers, visit To find more facilities, search the federal government's Eldercare Locator online or call (800) 677-1116. LeadingAge also provides an aging services directory, as do and To assess nursing homes, check out Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website.

Evaluating Memory Care Options

What kind of residential care can someone with Alzheimer's or other dementias receive? After research (including reading reviews), schedule a visit to a facility and stop by once or twice more unannounced to find out. Factors to consider in your assessment include:

1. The staff - Check if doctors and nurses or nurse practitioners are on-site. What is the ratio of residents to staff members and how available is the staff? What are their levels of experience and training in dementia care? Is the care tailored to each resident's needs? Observe the level of service and care the staff provides.

2. Quality of care - See if memory care is available. Ask for the latest survey or inspection report and if it's not already provided, the Special Care Unit Disclosure form (when applicable). Learn more about policies and procedures. Find out if the facility offers medical care, transportation, recreational, or personal services (laundry, housekeeping, etc.). Are mealtimes regular and is the food appetizing and nutritious? Check if scheduled activities occur and if the staff connects with the attendees. At some facilities, residents diagnosed with psychiatric illness may live in the same unit as those with dementia.

3. The environment - Notice if the overall atmosphere, including the dining room, is pleasant and comfortable. How well are the grounds and common areas maintained? What kind of amenities do the residences offer? How safe are they? Is there enough security indoors and outside? How large and clean are the living quarters and is it easy to move around in them? Are entrances and rooms marked clearly? Can you find your way around freely? See if the residents seem happy and if you can talk to some of their families to see what they think of the facility.

Average Care Costs

According to Genworth, the average national cost for basic services at an assisted living facility is $51,600 per year or around $4,000 monthly. Memory care may cost $1,000 to $4,000 more monthly, but prices vary by the level of care available. A private room in a nursing home can average $105,850 yearly, and a semi-private room $93,075 annually. The median monthly cost of a private room at an assisted living facility in the Lewiston area is $6,150, based on the geographic location, amenities, and services.

Depending on your situation and the type of housing, you may need to pay for care yourself. Some facilities accept MaineCare or Medicaid. Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans limit coverage to certain services. Long-term care insurance can cover nursing care. Veterans and their surviving spouses over age 65 may qualify for veterans' benefits.

While you consider memory care options, don't be afraid to ask questions to narrow down your choices. Weigh the care, the costs, and the quality of life the facility provides to arrive at an informed decision.

If you need help deciding which memory care option is best for you or your loved one, call us at 377-6966 or contact us online. We can also discuss a long-term care payment plan and how to protect your assets.

About the Author

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq.

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. is the Managing Shareholder at Levey, Wagley, Putman & Eccher, P.A., in Winthrop, Maine. Dan's favorite problem to solve is helping clients figure out how to afford long-term care while having something left for their family.

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