Memory Care Communities

Elderly Caucasian woman in bedroom.

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If your loved one is having problems with Alzheimer’s or dementia and caregiving is becoming too much to handle, you might consider a memory care community: 

Memory care is specifically designed for dementia patients.  Most memory care communities are specifically laid out for patients suffering from dementia.  You’ll likely notice hallways designed so that there are no dead-ends.  There might be photo and memorabilia boxes on the walls to help residents find their rooms.  You might also notice locks on the exterior doors and windows to prevent residents from wandering.

Lots of memory care communities offer special activities for dementia patients.  Some research suggests that memory and brain function can be improved by doing certain activities like math and puzzles.  Although special programs for memory are a relatively new phenomenon, more communities are adopting memory-centered activities.

Not all memory care communities deal with the same levels of care. For instance, some patients become combative or sexually promiscuous and need different settings to be comfortable.  Most communities don’t have staff that are trained in handling these behaviors, so you’ll need to call around to find the right facility.  However, most communities will give you some idea of the services they offer when you call.

Pets and Senior Housing


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Pets are an important parts of our lives, and no one wants to leave Spot or Tabby behind when moving into a retirement community.  However, more and more communities are realizing that attracting residents means allowing them to keep their pets.  If you’re hunting for a retirement community, here are some things to keep in mind regarding your precious fur baby:

Ask if they allow pets. It sounds silly, but don’t delay moving into a retirement community just because you’re worried you might have to give up an animal.  It’s not uncommon to see a dog or cat (or even a bird!) in an assisted living or memory care community.  Having animals around helps calm residents and create an inviting atmosphere, so don’t be afraid to ask about a community’s pet policy.

Ask about their policies regarding pet deposits, noise, and pet waste removal.  If they do allow pets, they probably have some policy related to how management handles pets.  You don’t want any surprises after moving in, so make sure that you’ve read up on their policies and procedures.

Ask about their policies regarding orphaned pets.  If something happens to you, what happens to your animals?  In most cases, the animal will go to your next of kin or someone that you request.  However, you’ll need to confirm this before moving in so that your priceless pup doesn’t end up living with someone you wouldn’t approve of.

While having a pet at a retirement community isn’t extremely common, it’s becoming more mainstream.  If you want to bring your animal with you, then make sure that you have a thorough understanding of how the community handles pets and its policies related to their care.

Nursing Homes 101

nursing home

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When most people think of retirement communities, they are actually thinking of nursing homes, which are a specific type of facility that cares for people with very high needs.  If you think that your loved one needs to move into a nursing home, here are some things to know before you start your search:

Nursing homes provide nursing care around the clock. Compared to an assisted living or independent living where residents receive some services, nursing homes are staffed with nurses who have experience working with people who need high levels of care like wound care or special therapy.

Most nursing home visits are paid by Medicaid. Medicare will cover the first 100 days following hospitalization, but after that, you’ll need to apply for Medicaid, tap your long term care insurance policy, or pay out of pocket.

Nursing homes cost about $75,000 per year. The cost varies based on location and room configuration (private or semiprivate rooms), but nursing homes aren’t cheap.

Medicare and Medicaid rate nursing homes. Want to know what a professional inspector thought of the community? Check out Medicare’s site: Nursing Home Compare. It’s got ratings for every nursing home in the United States.  It’s free to use, and you can search by city.

Nursing homes are only one type of retirement community.  There are several other options (like independent living, CCRCs, assisted living, and memory care), but nursing homes provide the most care and are most suitable for patients with advanced diseases who need skilled nursing care around the clock.

Home Health 101

Open Front Door of a Home

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If you or a loved one have decided to stay at home as long as possible, there is something called “home health” care that can help delay the move into senior housing.  Here’s an overview of home health and what it can do for you:

There are two type so f home health: medical and non-medical. Non-medical home care ranges from just having someone to check in on occasion to assistance with activities of daily living like showering or getting dressed.  Medical home health includes things like dressing wounds after surgery and performing physical therapy.

You might have to pay for some of the care.  Medical home care is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.  However, non-medical home care is not covered.  If you want additional services that aren’t covered, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket.  Home care is typically billed by the hour, and prices range depending on what types of services are provided.

Even if you move to a retirement community, you’ll probably be receiving some type of home health. Even retirement communities are hearing the call of home health agencies since many communities don’t maintain the licensure necessary to provide that care.  Be prepared to receive a separate bill for home health if you move into a  community that doesn’t offer nursing or assisted living.

Home health can be a valuable tool for keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible.  Like any service, keeping a watchful eye can help prevent abuse or neglect by caregivers.  To find ratings for local home health agencies, you can check Medicare’s Home Health Compare.