Memory care is a long-term care solution that offers specialized assistance for loved ones diagnosed with various types of dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease) and other forms of memory loss.

Memory care can be appropriate when it is no longer safe for a loved one, impacted by a neurocognitive disorder such as dementia, to live at home or in an assisted living setting. Tendencies such as wandering (indoors or outdoors), exit-seeking, confusion with navigating within an assisted living facility or apartment, the inability to call for help or recognize danger can be addressed by memory care. When verbal and/or physical agitation/aggression/combativeness are a factor, each facility has policies regarding these behaviors. They either accept, do not accept or consider each prospective resident on a case-by-case basis.

A memory care facility may be stand-alone or a unit within an assisted living facility licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. They are typically secure (locked), provide specially-trained certified caregivers, assistance with all activities of daily living (ADL’s), medication management, a favorable caregiver-to-resident ratio when compared to assisted living, private and/or shared apartments, restaurant-style dining, scheduled transportation and stimulating cognitive activity programs. As a higher level of care, families should expect a higher cost of care than assisted living in addition to a one-time “community fee”. Annual costs typically increase 2%-6% as well.

Memory care is also available in a residential home-like environment. Also licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, memory care homes offer private and/or shared rooms, 4-10 residents, trained certified caregivers, 3 diet-specific home-cooked meals daily, a 1:4 to 1:5 caregiver-to-resident ratio, assistance with all activities of daily living (ADL’s), medication management, personalized attentive care, transportation (may or may not be included) and cost that does not typically increase as long as a loved one is a resident. A one-time move-in fee or refundable security deposit may apply.

Here in Northern Arizona, both memory care facilities and homes are a month-to-month commitment and families sign a residency agreement. The primary obligations are to pay on-time and provide 30 days written notice prior to moving a loved one out of the facility/home. Both memory care settings can accept visitation by primary care physicians (if home visits are offered), palliative care, home health and hospice (intermittent nursing) services while caring for residents through end-of-life.

In summary, every move with dementia has the potential to set your loved one back. At times, families make the decision to move a loved one closer to where they reside. This move can be very hard on their loved one with potentially tragic consequences. It’s also critical to look beyond what a family sees, hears and feels when touring memory care options to ensure that the memory care provider can meet your loved one’s level of care, along with their termination policies as they relate to dementia behaviors, in order to make a safe, educated and long-term placement decision.

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