Showing posts with label dementia care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dementia care. Show all posts

Friday, May 14, 2021

Memory Care Communities: Part of Retirement Planning

One of the biggest concerns many Baby-Boomers have is what to do if they or their spouse begins to lose their memory as they age. Many things can cause dementia ... Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson's Disease, strokes, and even some medications. Whatever the cause, the longer we live, the greater our risk of suffering from memory loss.

Some people have found practical ways to slow down the process of moving from mild cognitive decline into serious dementia by reading books such as "The Alzheimer's Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life." (Ad). If, however, the memory of you or a loved one continues to decline, despite your best efforts, then you will want to read this month's guest post, shown below, on how to make a memory care community a part of your retirement planning:

Planning for Memory Care Communities as Part of Retirement

One of the realities in life is that, as we age, we may experience a variety of health difficulties. One of the most serious conditions we may face is Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. During 2020, researchers estimate there were more than 5.8 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the United States. This number is expected to triple by the year 2050, as our population ages. 

Unfortunately, many families cannot provide the appropriate level of care needed for someone who is suffering from severe dementia. The lack of adequate care can potentially worsen the declining cognitive ability of the person who has begun to experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia.  It may be very difficult for family members to provide for all the safety and physical needs of the patient, while also providing them with a mentally stimulating environment.

Basics of Memory Care

Memory care facilities are an option which families may consider for their older family members who are showing advanced symptoms of dementia. Of course, the safety and comfort of someone who needs this specialized care is of utmost importance, and a memory care home is designed to provide that level of care. Memory care facilities are established to provide a residential community for seniors who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. They only accept clients or residents who have advanced symptoms and who are experiencing serious mental impairment. 

The basic personal care assistance which is provided in a memory care facility is at least as good as that provided in a normal assisted living facility. However, the activities in memory care are all designed to slow down the continued cognitive impairment and may even allow for some improvement in the cognitive condition of the residents. These facilities have a staff which is specially trained to deal with people who are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Families should verify that the credentials and experience of the staff are suitable to meet the needs of the residents. 

Is a Memory Care Home the Right Thing to Do?

If you are looking for the best senior living facility for a family member, you will first want to ask yourself if memory care is the best place for your older family member. The answer to this question depends on the condition of the patient and your ability to manage their healthcare. If you believe there is a need for some interventions for cognitive care which can only be provided by a facility, then the facility will begin by performing an assessment to determine if the patient is experiencing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, since treatment, medications and health management may vary, depending on the patient's diagnosis. This analysis will also help the family members be confident that the patient is getting the appropriate care he or she needs. 

Innovative Therapies Offered by Some Communities

Since the main goal of memory care homes is to enhance the cognitive ability of the residents, they provide innovative therapies. Here are some of the therapeutic activities which you might expect:

  • Music Therapy – Music plays an important role in enhancing memory, lessening the level of stress, and improving cognitive skills. People often remember old, favorite songs long after they have forgotten other things.

  • Mental Stimulation Therapy – The main point of this therapy is to combat anxiety, boredom, and restlessness. This may include puzzles and/or friendly competitions which involve brain games. It can also include something as simple as a conversation intended to draw out any memories the patient still has.

  • Art Therapy – Many residents love to draw, paint, or work on some craft, not only to express their feelings, but also to enhance their creativity.  These activities may also bring back memories of crafts they did in the past, even during childhood, and can have a soothing effect on some agitated patients.

  • Occupational Therapy -- The facility may work with your loved one to help them retain any skills they still have. This could include helping them remember how to dress themselves, groom themselves, feed themselves, pick out their favorite foods in an on-site store or restaurant, etc. Some memory care facilities have little shops, banks, and restaurants where residents can purchase a few items, or go to the "bank" or a restaurant, all designed to give them a sense of normalcy. This helps alleviate the feeling of being in an institution, and may help them feel more comfortable if, for example, a family member asks to take them out to dinner or to go shopping.

  • Physical Therapy -- Physical therapy is designed to help keep the patient from becoming bedridden too soon. They may spend time in various types of exercises to help them retain as much of their strength as possible. In addition, physical conditioning also seems to provide some mental stimulation and slows down cognitive decline.

Specialized Care Environments in Memory Care Homes

All the different services which are being offered in a memory care home are tailored to the specific needs of the residents. The staff in this type of community creates an environment which is as perfect as possible for the care they provide. In most cases, residents are encouraged to bring a few favorite items from home, so they have a sense of comfort and familiarity. They may have framed family photos, their own bedspread, a favorite chair and, of course, their own clothing and other personal items.

Staff is also aware that the residents may be experiencing different stages of memory loss and this is why the scope of the care provided may vary from person to person. Some of the specialized care services which you may expect from a memory care home may include:

  • Emergency monitoring (often including personal alert devices)

  • Specialized activities and programs

  • Assistance for personal care tasks

  • Transportation services to doctors and other necessary appointments

  • Maintenance, laundry and housekeeping services

The Facilities Master Plan Report

When your loved one moves into a memory care communityou may be interested to know that the facility had to go through extensive permitting and licensing requirements before the final facility master plan was made. Before the memory care facility was built, there were many steps which needed to be completed. 

First, an appropriately designed and sized structure had to be planned. After that, the property and the location were analyzed to make sure they would meet the needs of the residents. The whole process, including construction, may have taken a year or even much longer to be completed. 

Knowing about the facility master plan requirements will help you feel more confidant that memory care facilities have been designed to be as safe and comfortable as possible for every resident.

Costs Associated with Memory Care Homes

With specialized care, such as Alzheimer’s care, provided in a memory care home, it should be no surprise that these facilities are more expensive, compared to other senior living facilities. Aside from providing specialized assistance to their patients, the staff are also trained to ensure that the residents are safe and secure within the community. Because of this, it is important that the family discuss the cost at different facilities in their area. The fees may differ from state to state, and could also be affected by whether the facility is in an urban or rural area.

There are a number of options for handling the financial cost of memory care, and some of the more common ones are shown below:

Medicaid is a possibility for people who have limited income and assets. In fact, Medicaid covers the cost of memory care for about 24% of all patients in these facilities.

Some residents may have purchased long-term care insurance in the past, and their policy is now available to cover the cost of their memory care.

The cash value of some life insurance policies may also be used to pay for memory care while you are still alive, assuming you have a large cash value in your life insurance policy. Check with your life insurance provider to see if this is an option for you.

If the patient moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) before they developed dementia, the arrangement they have with their CCRC will usually include the cost of being moved into the memory care unit when they are no longer able to live in their original independent living apartment. Some people buy into these communities by selling their home and purchasing a condo in a CCRC. Other CCRC facilities have rental apartments, with the cost changing as their needs increase. Their monthly fees may be covered by their Social Security benefits and any other income sources they have.

Veterans may be able to move into a Veterans' home and receive whatever care they need for the remainder of their life, including memory care, or they may qualify for a small monthly payment which can be used towards the cost of a nursing home, memory care facility, or healthcare aide in a private home.

Families may supplement the cost of a memory care facility, over whatever income the patient already has from Social Security, pensions, and income from their retirement account or from the sale of the patient's home and other property. Remember that if the patient has a low income and few assets, the cost of their memory care will probably be covered by Medicaid. Make sure you investigate all your options.

Discuss all possible financial arrangements with the financial office at several different memory care facilities in your area. Your loved one may qualify for more financial assistance than you realize, but the sooner you make your plans, the easier the transition will be. 

Memory care facilities are a very important part of the community. The most important factor to consider is choosing one where the patient will be safe and comfortable. 

Before going to a memory care facility, however, you may wish to try reading "The Alzheimer's Prevention and Treatment Diet." (Ad) It could help you postpone the need for treatment as long as possible.

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If you are interested in learning more about common health issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Photo credit: Guest Author Holly Klamer

Monday, February 24, 2014

Resources for Dealing with Dementia and Alzheimers

As I mentioned recently, I am adding an extra post each week that will be primarily designed to provide my readers with links to resources that they will find helpful.  This is in addition to my normal weekly post.

This week's resource post will deal with dementia and Alzheimer's.  There is a contributor named Merrci with the online magazine Squidoo, who specializes in writing about these topics and I have found her articles to be very helpful and informative.  Not only does she provide useful information, but she has also included ads for some helpful books that she believes will enlighten people even more.  I am the official "Retired and Loving It" contributor on Squidoo, and I have discovered that the articles that are written by both of us appeal to similar groups of readers.

Here's a link to Merrci's most recent article:

Since my mother is suffering from advanced dementia, I know how difficult the situation can be for many families.  I am fortunate that my mother and father are currently living with my sister.  I'm not sure how long this arrangement will last.  Eventually, however, it is possible that my mother will need to be moved to a memory care facility.

Whether you are a Baby Boomer who is worried about your own declining memory, or you have aging parents who have been diagnosed with dementia, the information Merrci provides about assisted living, getting financial assistance to pay for it, etc., will be very helpful as you decide on the best way to handle this emotional situation.

Here are links to three Amazon books that you may also find helpful in dealing with this dreadful disease in your family.  Just click on the titles below to be taken directly to their Amazon page.

"A Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease: 300 Tips For Making Life Easier"
"Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was a Cure"
"Talking to Alzheimer's: Simple Ways to Connect When You Visit with a Family Member or Friend"

If you are a Baby Boomer or retiree who is looking for additional retirement or heath information, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of useful articles.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Housing Options When Your Spouse is Ill

Whether Baby Boomers like to think about it or not, you could reach retirement age and discover that either you or your spouse has a health or mobility issue that may make it difficult to live comfortably and safely in your current home or in the typical over-55 community.  Because of that, I thought it would be helpful to talk about some of the other living arrangements that are available as we age.

Remodeling Your Current Home

Probably the most common option is to simply remodel the place where you currently live.  Many people will make the necessary accommodations for their spouse for as long as they can.  They may add a chair lift to help them get up and down the stairs.  Ramps can be added to front doors, bars and walk-in bathtubs can be added to bathrooms, and other adjustments can be added to homes to make them handicap accessible.

People can also buy and lease hospital beds, wheelchairs, and other items that will make it easier for family members with mobility issues.

However, there are some problems that you may not be able to deal with by simply remodeling your current home.  For example, if you have a loved one with dementia, you could be concerned about what the future might bring.  Will they wander away from the house when you're not watching, or leave a burner on while they are trying to cook?  If the ill partner has physical problems and is unable to stand up, will the caregiver spouse be able to help them shower or perform other daily tasks?

In situations like these, the couple may decide that they need to move to a location where they can stay together but get some assistance.

Assisted Living Communities Like Garden Spot Village

When I posted last year about Garden Spot Village in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania, I revealed a community that has housing options that range from independent living villas and apartments to assisted living and dementia care options.  This community also features an indoor swimming pool, garden atrium, post office and branch bank in the main building.  There are exercise classes, art programs and a variety of interesting activities available daily.  This tremendous community is ideal for people who want to move somewhere while they are still healthy and remain there as they age and need more assistance.  A couple can both live there even if one does not need assistance but their partner does.

This wonderful community, however, is only one example of the many types of similar facilities that are available across the country.  Many Baby Boomers will want to seriously consider moving to one of these communities, especially if they or their spouse has a chronic illness that could limit their ability to live independently in the coming years.

Holiday Homes

An option that is similar to Garden Spot Village, but more widely available, is offered by Holiday Homes, a company that has over 300 communities across the United States and Canada.  All of them offer independent living apartments and about 70 of the communities also offer separate cottages for those people who do not need personal assistance at this time.

There are certain advantages offered by organizations like Holiday that can make their communities especially appealing to aging Boomers.  In particular, you may be interested in the Holiday Touch Travel Program that allows you to stay up to seven nights per visit in one of their other communities in the United States or Canada.  Your guest room, meals and other amenities are included at no additional charge beyond what you are paying to stay in your home residence.  This is perfect if you occasionally want to travel to a warm location during the winter or go visit your grandchildren in another part of the country.

Holiday communities offer meals prepared by a chef and served in a restaurant style dining room, a variety of activities, including outings and exercise classes, 24-hour assistance for those who need it, on-site dementia facilities, and personal security.  Every apartment is equipped with an emergency call system.

These are not sterile nursing homes, but true residential living facilities.  You are encouraged to bring your own furniture and decorate your apartment however you choose.  There is no long-term commitment.  You pay a monthly rental fee based on the services you need ... for example, whether you or your spouse needs any assisted living services. 

There are Holiday communities in nearly every state in the continental United States, as well as several in Canada.  Whether you want to live near your family and friends, or you wish to move somewhere warm like Florida, Arizona or Southern California, there is almost certain to be a location that will meet your needs.

To get more information or arrange a visit, use the phone number or website below: 


If you are interested in other interesting places to live, use the tabs at the top of this article to find links to more articles about wonderful places to retire in the United States and overseas, as well as additional information of interest to retirees.

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