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Alzheimer's Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities

As the number of individuals who suffer from loss in cognitive functions including memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's increase, facilities designed to provide specialized care for these individuals are being built to meet the future needs of the baby boom generation.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a long term progressive form of deterioration in a person's cognitive functions including memory, attention, and the ability to communicate and solve problems.

Memory care facilities are still commonly referred to by laypeople as "Alzheimer's facilities".

A number of assisted living facilities in the Sacramento area have special areas and / or buildings dedicated to the care of memory impaired and Alzheimer's residents. In addition, in the Sacramento area, there are several specialized facilities that serve only memory and Alzheimer's care residents.

In the past many that were afflicted with dementia including Alzheimer's moved into nursing care facilities which is not efficient from a cost standpoint. In recent years, we have also found that specially trained memory and dementia / Alzheimer's care staff are being added to many assisted living facilities and long-term continuing care retirement communities.

Since the type and expense of care varies according to location, it's advisable to consider the options long before a loved one might require such arrangements. Doing so can ensure that he or she receives the long-term care that might be needed as the disease progresses.

The most tragic part of being diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease is that it is an illness that involves gradual and continual diminishment of cognitive function, and as such, requires many years of care.

The senior housing options for memory loss and Alzheimer's care include:

Property Type Overview:

The type of facility that is most appropriate will likely depend on the level of care that the individual requires and his or her prospects for the future in addition to the individual's current health status.

Health Care / Medical services provided to Residents:

Home health care is generally the least financially feasible for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's due to the need for around the clock care.

For the senior with dementia or Alzheimer's who is in relatively stable health, a continuing care retirement facility is often desirable. The reason for this is that these types of facilities can provide care for the individual throughout the stages of the disease, eliminating the need for the person to move frequently as medical and health care needs increase.

Many continuing care retirement facilities can provide memory care from the point of diagnosis, through assisted living, and often including nursing and hospice care.

Since continuity of care and a stable environment are important for the special needs of the resident, an environment in which they can reside in the same location as well as have close personal relationships is imperative to their continued health.

Many assisted living facilities provide comprehensive care services for memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's patients. For individuals in the early to mid stages of the disease, the assisted living environment is often ideal because services, such as personal care, transportation, and housekeeping, as well as 24-hour monitoring for personal safety, are provided.

For those who may not be able to afford the benefits of continuing care retirement facilities, the assisted living option allows the individual with Alzheimer's to continue in an independent living situation for as long as possible before moving to a more intensive care situation such as a nursing care facility.

Sadly nursing care facilities (nursing homes) once were the only option for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's. Although they continue to be the least favored placement for most individuals regardless of their medical condition, many of these facilities are making strides in developing a level of care that takes into account the needs of the resident, treating them less as a medical patient and more as an independent resident in need of medical and other health care.

Physical Description:

In addition to memory care facilities, many newer nursing care facilities have established separate floors, units, or wings designed to ensure that the resident and his or her visiting family do not feel as if they are in a sterile institutional setting.

These new options give the individual access to recreational, social, and exercise facilities that may not be available to the majority of the resident population. One of the benefits of nursing care facilities is that they are required to be licensed by the state and may be certified by Medicare and Medi-Cal, providing the family with the possibility of having some of the services covered by Medi-Cal after private funds or long term care insurance have been exhausted.

For individuals in the late stages of dementia or Alzheimer's, hospice care is an alternative to the skilled care facility or nursing home. Unfortunately this option is still often overlooked.

Hospice homes provide the same level of skilled medical care as a skilled care facility or nursing home, and yet they focus on the comfort and dignity of the individual during the final stages of the illness.

Admission to a hospice home generally requires that the individual has a diagnosis of less than six months remaining to live. Many of these facilities are certified by Medicare and Medi-Cal and also may be covered by long term care insurance.

The option of hospice care is difficult for many people to select because in doing so they are accepting a terminal diagnosis, but on the other hand, hospice more often is the best choice for these seniors.

How Much Do Alzheimer's Care Facilities Cost?:

The cost of Alzheimer's care depends on the location, the type of accommodations, the amenities and services provided by the center and how much care is needed (typically the latter stages of this disease requires more intensive care).

In general, Alzheimer's adult day care facilities cost between $3,500 to $7,000 per month. The average annual cost in the United States is in excess of $70,000 per year.