How to Find a Memory Care Facility for Your Loved One

Your mom who is 78-years-old and lives alone forgets to pay her bills. She can't remember how to use the kitchen stove. She forgets appointments. These are signs of memory loss, and she may need assisted living with memory care.

Memory care is a type of skilled nursing for people diagnosed with memory problems. Among seniors the typical memory care patient shows symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Some memory care patients have cognitive challenges resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other causes. Memory care is care for people who have diagnosed with memory loss and who need help with areas of daily living (ADLs).

If you or your loved suspects there is a memory problem, contact a medical professional for evaluation.

About Memory Loss

As we age, we lose brain cells. This loss of cells sometimes affects our ability to remember a name or remember where we left our car keys. These are often referred to as “senior moments.” It is a normal process of aging. But significant changes in our memory refer to something else.

When the term memory loss is used, it's usually associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) because AD is the most common type of loss, occurring in about 5 million Americans. The broader term for memory loss is dementia (not a specific disease itself), which is the loss of memory from brain trauma, stroke, or a degenerative disease, as well as a loss of at least one other brain function like language.

Dementia affects your mental abilities, which affect your ability to carry out ADLs.

People with dementia usually have trouble solving problems, doing daily tasks, and may even have trouble controlling their emotions.

Here are some signs that are not part of normal memory loss.

  • Forgetting things much more often than you used to
  • Forgetting how to do things you've done many times before
  • Trouble learning new things
  • Repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation
  • Trouble making choices or handling money
  • Not being able to keep track of what happens each day

Other diseases that fall under dementia include the following:

  • Vascular Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Pick's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is according to the National Institute on Aging, an “irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” It accounts for 50% to 80% of dementia cases.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but there are care options.

For their own safety — and the safety of others — a person with progressive dementia will eventually need 24-hour supervision. He or she will also need help with:

  • Personal Care,
  • Medication Management, and
  • other Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

At first the individual might be able to live at home with help from loved ones. Family can get support from in-home care providers and adult day care. But as dementia progresses and the patient's needs grow, the spouse or other unpaid caregiver can become exhausted; we can only be superhuman for so long. Choosing a memory care facility becomes a good option. Most memory care centers are specialized nursing homes or specialized areas of nursing homes. Assisted living communities increasingly have memory care divisions too. Memory care centers ensure that residents won't wander away; exits are carefully monitored. Employees and visiting specialists facilitate daily social events and potentially therapeutic activities. They provide meals, health care and personal care. All states regulate and license senior care centers, but many states lack special criteria for memory care nursing homes. It's important to compare facilities carefully. A standard rundown of memory care services includes:

  • A private or semi-private room
  • 24-hour personal assistance
  • Three daily meals
  • Medication management
  • Cognitive and physical therapies
  • Exercise activities
  • Social activities
  • Housekeeping and laundry

Choosing a memory care facility can be emotionally exhausting, but spending time on research can make a difference to your loved one's quality of life and your family's financial security. This article can streamline your task with an overview of what you need to know about when memory care is needed, what services are available, typical costs and payment solutions.

Natalia Stephens

Natalia crafts informative articles on many subjects that affect seniors' lives. With an eye on her own aging loved ones, her writing engages and resonates with younger and older adults alike. Her background includes a bachelor's degree in journalism and more than six years as a writer and researcher covering topics like retirement, senior care, and products for the elderly. She also writes about college, vocational training, and career planning.