SENIOR HOUSING GUIDE, Part 2: Assisted Living and Memory Care

A Helpful Guide from Learn About the Range of Senior Living Options

While the many choices for senior living can seem overwhelming, it is also a relief that the spectrum of senior housing options makes it so all older adults can find a senior care or housing level that works for them, no matter where their needs fall. In this article, Part 2 of our Senior Housing Guide, we’ll review Assisted Living.

Assisted living is a type of residential senior care well-suited for seniors who need some assistance with their activities of daily living, but do not need any regular medical care. Residents have access to staff around-the-clock for emergency assistance and receive assistance with their daily tasks, including eating, dressing, and bathing. Assisted living residents only receive the care that they need, enabling them to retain their independence as much as possible while also having help available whenever it is required.

Assisted Living Quick Facts

Assisted Living Services and Amenities

The services offered in assisted living focus on the activities of daily living, which include essential daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, and transferring (walking). Residents of ALFs have access to as much assistance with ADLs as they need, but can also live as independently as they wish. Along with ADL assistance, ALFs offer other personal care services, including housekeeping and linen services, laundry, and transportation.

Many assisted living facilities also offer amenities for residents to enjoy, such as a fitness center, arts and crafts room, or formal dining room for dinner parties. Some may also have an on-site beauty parlor or barbershop, outdoor common areas, a library or computer room, and more.

Who Should Consider Assisted Living

Assisted living is a good option for older adults who are starting to have more difficulties living independently. This includes those struggling with mobility or fine motor skills, seniors who recently suffered an injury or health emergency, and seniors in the very early stages of memory impairment. Some signs that a loved one may be a good fit for assisted living include unpaid bills, noticeable weight loss, and a noticeable decline in cleanliness or hygiene. Assisted living communities can provide both seniors and their families with peace of mind knowing that staff is on-site around-the-clock to help residents in case of an emergency.

Assisted Living Costs and How to Pay

Assisted living costs an average of $4,300 per month in the United States, though costs can vary significantly between different states. In most cases, a community’s stated cost per month is all-inclusive, including all care services, meals, and housekeeping and maintenance fees. However, be sure to find out what is and is not included in a community’s monthly cost before signing any contract agreement.

There are financial assistance programs available to help cover the cost of assisted living, the most notable of which is Medicaid. In most states, assisted living services are covered under a 1915(c) waiver program, commonly referred to as Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers. These waiver programs enable seniors to choose their preferred care environment, like an assisted living community, rather than having to default to nursing home care. Additional financial assistance options include long-term care insurance and the Aid and Attendance benefit for veterans.

Visit our Assisted Living Near Me page to learn more about this type of senior living.

Memory Care

Memory care, sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s care, is a specialized form of senior living specifically for seniors living with advanced memory impairment. Seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia often have very different needs, both physically and emotionally, than other older adults. Dedicated memory care communities offer services and activities tailored to meet the needs of the memory-impaired, and all staff must be trained in how to best work with and support seniors with these cognitive conditions.

Memory Care Quick Facts

Memory Care Services and Amenities

Memory care staff is available 24-hours a day to assist residents with any of their personal care needs. This includes assistance with ADLs, housekeeping, and laundry, and transportation services. Additionally, many memory care communities offer specialized activity programming intended to stimulate and engage residents. These programs may include music therapy, gardening groups, puzzle clubs, and more. While memory care communities may have fewer lifestyle amenities than independent and assisted living communities, they do have enhanced safety and security measures, such as monitored entry and exit points and community-wide use of personal medical alert systems.

It’s important to note that while memory care staff is well-trained to care for seniors with memory impairment, most are not medical professionals. Memory care communities do not offer regular medical care beyond basic first-aid and medication management services. Seniors in need of regular skilled care and around-the-clock access to a doctor are better suited for skilled nursing facilities.

Who Should Consider Memory Care

Memory care is an appropriate choice for seniors who are in the mid-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s possible for seniors in the early stages of memory impairment to continue living at home with family caregivers, or even in an assisted living facility. But, in most cases, the disease will progress to the point that makes it infeasible for the person to remain in their current home. Some families decide to transition their loved one to residential memory care after a dangerous incident, such as wandering.

Memory Care Costs and How to Pay

Memory care costs 20-30% more than assisted living, mainly due to the specialized staff training and enhanced safety and security measures of these communities. Given that the average cost of assisted living is $4,300 per month, one can expect to pay approximately $5,375 per month for memory care. Keep in mind that this is the national average, so costs in your state may be different.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover residential memory care. There are other financial assistance options available, notably Medicaid’s Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers. HCBS waivers will not cover room and board in a residential memory care community, but it will cover the cost of services received, making the overall expense more affordable. Other sources of financial assistance include long-term care insurance and reverse mortgages.

Visit our Memory Care page to learn more about this type of senior living.

To see the other articles in this series:

Part 1: Independent Living

Part 3: Senior Care and Aging in Place

This helpful guide was provided by the Assisted Living Team. Here’s a message, directly from them on WHY they do what they do.

The team exists to collaborate with like-minded individuals, to provide effective solutions to real challenges impacting seniors everyday. Want to get involved? Send us a message to find out how you can help. Questions? Let us know below and we will do our best to answer them.

Our work isn’t just offering raw data and information – we offer deep insights and real solutions to problems seniors, caregivers and influencers face every day.

We believe that constant innovation based on scientific, intensive research can richly improve the quality of life for seniors for years to come. That’s why we foster a culture of that constantly pushes us to pursue innovation, by collaborating with industry influencers, experts, and caregivers.

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