Memory Care – Assisted Living for Seniors with Dementia
Memory Care is a special type of Assisted Living which supports seniors with dementia. These communities support the special needs of those who have cognitive deficits – specifically problems with memory and problems processing information. In Northeast Florida, there are a good number of Assisted Living communities where people with Dementia can be safe and supported.
Dementia is an “umbrella” term used to describe a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily life. It isn't a specific disease, but several diseases can cause dementia.
Although dementia generally involves memory loss, memory loss has different causes. Having memory loss alone doesn't mean you have dementia, although it's often one of the early signs of the condition.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of progressive dementia in older adults, accounting for roughly 70% of all diagnosed dementias.
Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause, but common signs and symptoms include cognitive changes such as memory loss (which is usually noticed by someone else), difficulty communicating or finding words, difficulty with visual and spatial abilities (such as getting lost while driving), difficulty reasoning or problem-solving, difficulty handling complex tasks, difficulty with planning and organizing, difficulty with coordination and motor functions, and confusion and disorientation. Psychological changes include personality changes, depression, anxiety, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations.
Assisted Living and Dementia
Assisted Living communities are set up to help people with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that includes bathing, dressing, medication management, transferring, and continence. These communities are a logical and supportive place to help people with dementia as well. Some Northeast Florida assisted living communities have special, secured areas for people with dementia. There are also several free-standing memory care only communities in our area where every resident receives dementia care. The staff in these memory care communities receive special training in supporting and comforting those with dementia.
Memory Care communities, whether free standing or part of a larger Assisted Living building, provide 24-hour supervision to those who need frequent redirecting or who are exit-seeking. The physical layout of the dementia unit or building is typically quite simple, allowing the person with dementia to walk about freely between activities if they wish. Activities are simple and are designed for the resident with dementia to be successful. Residents are encouraged to interact with the staff and each other, and they are helped to reminisce and find pleasant memories to call upon and enjoy.
Cost of Memory Care in Northeast Florida
Supportive care for a senior with dementia involves care for their physical needs, plus interacting with them in a specific and supportive manner appropriate to the disease. The cost for memory care averages $5,500 to $8,000 per month for a private studio. Most memory care communities charge an all-inclusive monthly rate. There are some less expensive community options appropriate for some seniors.
Homecare and Long-Term Care Options
Other options for seniors with dementia include supportive care at home – commonly called homecare – and long-term care in a Nursing Facility.
Homecare includes light housekeeping, medication administration, and personal care like bathing and dressing. In Northeast Florida, homecare can cost anywhere from $24 to $36 per hour. Multiplying out at 24 hours of care/ 7 days a week, this comes up to a range between $210,000 to $315,000 a year. In comparison, the price is much less in an assisted living memory care community for a loved one, with annual costs ranging from $66,000 to $96,000 a year.
Long Term Care (Nursing Homes) in Northeast Florida range in price from $8,000 to $12,000 a month. Medicaid does pay for LTC facilities when the senior qualifies both medically and financially. It’s important to note that most seniors with dementia don’t need the level of skilled nursing care provided in nursing homes.
When Assisted Living Makes Sense for Seniors with Dementia
For most families facing a future with a senior who is living with dementia, they should realize that they are facing a long-term situation. Although everyone is different, people who develop Alzheimer’s can plan on a 7-year life span, while those who develop other types of Dementia, like Lewy Body and Frontotemporal, will typically see a shorter life span. These time estimates are general, and some people may progress more or less quickly. People with Alzheimer’s typically have a relatively orderly, steady decline, both physically and from a cognitive standpoint, while those with Lewy Body and Frontotemporal dementias often experience more rapid and less predictable declines. Most families turn to Assisted Living later in the disease process when options for care in the home have been exhausted. At some point, a senior with dementia and its often-associated physical problems will be just too much for the family to safely manage in the home. Many families will choose to ask an Assisted Living community to take on the physical and social care needed for their senior with dementia, allowing them to visit and focus on simply interacting with their loved one.