Memory Care Facilities

A memory care facility is a long-term care option that provides a safe environment for those with memory issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Since these facilities offer specialized round-the-clock care, costs tend to be steeper compared to other senior housing options. Learn about the services, costs and when to consider a memory care facility.

Lindsey Crossmier, writer for RetireGuide
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APA Crossmier, L. (2022, June 13). Memory Care Facilities. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-housing/assisted-living/memory-care-facilities/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "Memory Care Facilities." RetireGuide.com, 13 Jun 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-housing/assisted-living/memory-care-facilities/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "Memory Care Facilities." RetireGuide.com. Last modified June 13, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-housing/assisted-living/memory-care-facilities/.

What Are Memory Care Facilities?

A memory care facility offers unique long-term care for those with memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. These facilities can either be stand alone or within an assisted living community or nursing home.

Those working in a memory care facility are specially trained to assist those with memory issues, providing daily routines to promote familiarity and ease. There is extra surveillance in memory care facilities, such as 24-hour security, locked doors, cameras and tracking bracelets to ensure safety for all residents.

Most of these precautions are to prevent wandering, which can be dangerous for those with memory loss. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in ten people with dementia will wander repeatedly. This can become life threatening if your loved one wanders away from their home to a dangerous location, such as a busy intersection.

Did you know?
Unlike other senior housing options, most memory care facilities are designed to look like a cozy traditional home with personalized items to give a sense of familiarity. Some facilities are even designed to look like a different era to ease confusion for those with more severe memory gaps.

Before looking into costs, you should first consider you or your loved one’s condition, the services required and if the benefits of a memory care facility will make a positive influence.

Conditions Treated at a Memory Care Facility

If you have serious memory issues, such as forgetting where you are in your own home, forgetting family member’s names, or being unaware of the time and year, then you likely have a condition that can be treated at a memory care facility.

Conditions Treated
Dementia
Dementia causes severe memory loss in later stages, making living without assistance dangerous. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 55 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, with 10 million new cases every year.
Severe cognitive impairment
Sometimes certain medical conditions can cause serious memory issues. A tumor or blood clot in the brain, thyroid disorders or a head injury can make one as forgetful as someone with dementia.

While there is no definitive cure for dementia and the other severe cognitive issues, there are services offered by a memory care facility to make everyday life easier.

Memory Care Facility Services

Memory care facilities offer private or semi-private living spaces, depending on what you or your loved one needs or can afford. All facilities will have 24-hour surveillance and security, along with providing several essential services.

Services Offered at Memory Care Facilities
  • Medication management
  • Three meals daily
  • Assistance with daily tasks, such as eating, bathing and mobility
  • Housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • Memory games
  • Speech and cognitive therapy
  • Anti-wandering devices, like the Wanderguard system

Benefits of Memory Care Facilities

The biggest benefit of a memory care facility is the peace of mind knowing that your loved one is safe and cared for. According to the National Library of Medicine, trying to take care of a loved one with dementia has a variety of negative mental health consequences. This includes intense stress, sacrificing one’s own needs and even depression.

Aside from the benefits it offers to caregivers, family and friends, memory care facilities offer benefits to the patients as well, including constant professional care, a sense of community and ample activities and amenities to enjoy.

Common Amenities at a Memory Care Facility
  • Resident garden
  • Activity room
  • Arts and crafts room
  • In-house worship services
  • Fenced courtyard with walking paths and seating
  • Dining room for events and celebrations
  • Office space for visiting doctors

When Should You Consider Memory Care Facilities?

There are many different factors to consider before choosing a memory care facility. Safety, memory capacity, ability to complete daily tasks of living and your own ability as a caretaker should be considered.

If you or your loved one displays several of the behaviors below, then it may be time to consider a memory care facility.

Signs Indicating It’s Time for Memory Care
  • Cannot do daily living tasks on their own
  • Wanders frequently
  • Issues with speaking or writing
  • Cannot remember family members names or own address
  • Constant confusion or aggressive behavior
  • Cannot manage medications
  • Feels lost in familiar places, like their own home

If you feel that your overall life quality would improve from a memory care facility, you should start determining if this level of care is in your price range, and how to get coverage to help with costs.

How Much Do Memory Care Facilities Cost?

On average, monthly rent for memory care is $6,935. The cost will vary depending on what state you live in and the level of care you receive.

There are many different payment assistance options for memory care facilities, including Medicare, Medicaid, life insurance, annuities and other government programs.

Certain payment methods may offer better savings in the long run while others may have eligibility requirements. Compare your options and note the details of each to determine what’s right for you.

Ways to Pay for a Memory Care Facility

If you have personal savings available, investments or property, you could use these assets to pay for the costs of a memory care facility. However, not everyone has the ample funds needed on hand. If you do not, there are other ways to find coverage.

Memory Care Payment Coverage Options
Medicare
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage do not typically pay for room and board, though they do generally pay for medical care that the facility provides.
Medicaid
If you qualify for Medicaid, know that coverage varies by each state. In some cases, Medicaid will cover medical and long-term care costs.
Government Programs
- The Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, also known as PACE, covers medical, social service and long-term care expenses for older Americans.

- The Department of Veterans Affairs can offer long-term care coverage for eligible veterans.
Annuities
Some annuity contracts that pair with an insurance company have the option to cover long-term care services.
Life Insurance
Several life insurance policies offer coverage for long-term care. You can either get a long-term care policy or add it on as a rider. These options allow tax-free cash advances while you're still alive, which can help cover memory care facility costs.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources

If you need help finding a different Federal or State benefit program to cover memory care facility costs, then the National Council on Aging has a free service that can help called Benefits Checkup.

How Can You Find a Memory Care Facility Near You?

There are community resources, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, nonprofit organizations and local government tools that can help you find a memory care facility nearby.

Eldercare Locator is a nationwide resource many use to find a memory care facility. You can type in your zip code, and the Eldercare Locator tool will provide you with resources within your community. The tool will provide you with contact information for each facility, including phone number, email and website.

You should be prepared to ask questions and determine the level of care desired before selecting a memory care facility near you.

What to Look For

If possible, you should try to reach out to a memory issues support group in your area. Having multiple insights and resources can help you compare memory care facilities nearby. It’s important to know what to look for when researching facilities, so you can ensure your loved one is receiving quality care.

Information to Discuss Regarding a Memory Care Facility
  • Confirm that the memory care facility has passed the Joint Commission’s Quality Check.
  • Make several visits to the facility at different times to observe life quality.
  • Confirm the facility is well maintained and the staff speaks to residents with respect.
  • Validate what amenities and activities are available.
  • Ask how often a doctor checks on residents.
  • Confirm how many medically trained staff members are at the facility.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources

How Do Memory Care Facilities Differ from Other Housing Options?

Compared to other senior housing options, memory care facilities are typically more expensive since they offer round-the-clock specialized care. For reference, a memory care facility costs $6,935 on average per month while assisted living options cost roughly $5,380 — independent living options can cost as low as $1,500 a month.

A memory care facility’s main purpose is to provide a safe and fulfilling environment for those with memory impairments. Other senior housing options have different intentions than a memory care facility.

For example, a convalescent home’s purpose is to offer short-term care for an injury or surgery. A nursing home functions as a long-term care facility but has more treatment and medical requirements compared to a memory care facility. Independent living options have little to no assistance, typically providing social opportunities and amenities.

Last Modified: June 13, 2022

12 Cited Research Articles

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  2. World Health Organization. (2021, September 2). Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia#:~:text=Although%20dementia%20mainly%20affects%20older,million%20new%20cases%20every%20year
  3. MacFarquhar, L. (2018, October 1). The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/08/the-comforting-fictions-of-dementia-care
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  5. U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources. (2017, March 18). Finding Long-Term Care for a Person with Alzheimer's. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/finding-long-term-care-person-alzheimers
  6. U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources. (2017, May 1). Paying for Care. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/paying-care
  7. Tremont, G. (2011, February.) Family Caregiving in Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3487163/
  8. The Joint Commission. (n.d.). Find a Gold Seal Health Care Organization. Retrieved from https://www.qualitycheck.org/
  9. Assisted Living. (n.d.). The Average Cost of Senior Living: Can You Afford It? Retrieved from https://www.assistedliving.org/senior-housing/the-average-cost-of-senior-living/#:~:text=Depending%20on%20your%20location%2C%20living,%243%2C500%20to%20%2410%2C500%20a%20month
  10. Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Wandering. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/wandering
  11. U.S. Administration on Aging. (n.d.). Find Help in Your Community by Entering Your Zip Code or City and State. Retrieved from https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/index.aspx
  12. Memory Care. (n.d.). What To Expect In A Memory Care Facility. Retrieved from https://www.memorycare.com/what-to-expect-in-memory-care/