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Common Questions About Memory Care

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Common Questions About Memory Care

When a senior is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, families often begin searching for options for care. Even if additional care isn’t required immediately, planning ahead for the day when it might be is important. Memory care is a type of senior care families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s should become familiar with.

Because we know you likely have many questions, we put together this quick overview. Below you will find answers to the questions families ask us most frequently about memory care.

Questions & Answers

A: Memory care is a type of specialized senior housing designed to meet the unique needs of older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia.


Memory Care programs can take many forms. The most common types are: a dedicated program in an assisted living community, a secure wing of a nursing home and a stand-alone community exclusively for people with dementia. What each of these programs have in common is that they are a secure environment designed to reduce the chances of an older adult wandering away. And to helping seniors with memory loss live their best life.


Caregivers who work in Memory Care programs receive additional education to help them learn more about communication techniques and best practices for assisting adults with memory impairments. Because the disease presents unique challenges for caregivers, this added level of training is important.


A key part of daily life for Memory Care residents is participating in enrichment activities. These programs and activities are designed to help people with memory loss feel productive and stay engaged.

A: This question is a difficult one to answer! It depends upon each resident’s situation. But in many cases, the answer is dependent upon the resident’s safety. 


For example, if an assisted living resident begins to wander, the safe, secure environment of a Memory Care program is typically a better option than traditional assisted living.


If the older adult might be a risk to their own health and well-being, a move to memory care may be necessary. It might be the senior is routinely forgetting to turn their iron off or leaving the coffee pot on long after the liquid is gone.


The bottom line is that if a senior who lives in an assisted living community is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the staff will work with the family to set realistic expectations for their future. And to create a care plan that allows for additional services if needed.

A:  Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “no.” Because dementia care services are considered to be custodial in nature, meaning it doesn’t require the support of a skilled health care professional, Medicare does not pay for long term memory care.


If a senior who has dementia is hospitalized for a surgery or illness that requires rehabilitation, however, Medicare will pay for short-term rehab. But the maximum amount of time for such a stay is 100 days.

A:   This can be a very confusing area of the tax code to make your way through! But we know adult children often pay at least a portion of an older parent’s senior care expenses so it is an important one to understand.

While we aren’t in the business of giving tax advice, we wanted to share two Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications you can turn to in an effort to learn more. The first one is Publication 502 “Medical and Dental Expenses.” This resource outlines the rules about what care expenses meet the IRS code for deductions. The other equally important guide is Publication 503 “Child and Dependent Care Expenses.” This will help you determine if you can legally count your senior loved one as a dependent and claim a tax credit.

Our best suggestion is to seek the advice of a tax professional well-versed in senior care

A: The cost of memory care varies greatly depending upon what services are included, if the memory care program is in an assisted living community or a nursing home, and what area of the country the older adult lives in.

For example, some memory care programs bundle all of their services so every resident pays the same monthly fee. Other communities charge a flat fee for room and board costs, and then assess level of care charges based on each resident’s unique needs.

To give you a basic idea on memory care cost, we turned to the annual Cost of Care survey done by Genworth Financial. Their research showed that the national average cost for assisted living care in 2017 was $45,000 a year. Nursing home care averaged $85,775 per year. Keep in mind that these are for traditional assisted living and nursing home care. Memory care expenses are typically higher.

Explore More Helpful Resources

Tips for Assessing Memory Care Programs

When a senior loved one may require memory care, these tips can help you make a choice you can feel confident in. Continue reading to learn 5 tips to help you evaluate dementia care programs at senior living communities.

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Types of Dementia

If a senior loved one is exhibiting behaviors that have led their physician to suggest they might have dementia, it may help you to learn more about the different types of dementia and the symptoms associated with each.

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When is it Time to Consider Memory Care?

From the time you first began to notice the early signs of dementia, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how you would know when it’s time to consider moving a parent to memory care. Continue reading to learn more.

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