Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer’s, is a serious, growing problem. In fact, 1 out of every 10 adults over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s dementia. As Des Moines’ senior population continues to grow (20.5% growth between 2013 and 2018), so does the concern about aging and the risk of cognitive impairment.
In Des Moines, the number of deaths for those 65 and older caused or partly caused by Alzheimer’s disease increased by 36% between 2013 and 2018. To put that in perspective, the number of deaths from all causes for that same age group only increased by 10.6%, showing that Alzheimer’s is a growing concern in the region. Overall, the percentage of seniors’ deaths related to Alzheimer’s is higher than the rest of the nation (8.5% in Des Moines vs. 6.46% in the U.S.).
To help families and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of cognitive impairment find the support and care their loved ones need, we applied our unique methodology and spent dozens of hours researching senior living communities in Des Moines. In addition to an overview of the communities’ best features, this guide highlights the best memory care facilities in the city, and gives information about pricing, types of care provided, residents’ reviews, and more.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 83% of all caregivers are unpaid family members, relatives, or other friends, and nearly half of all care is for older adults with some form of dementia. Caregiving, especially when it involves Alzheimer’s or dementia, is extremely exhausting and time consuming, leading many caregivers to feel isolated and overwhelmed.
As a loved one continues to progress through the stages of dementia and his or her cognitive abilities continue to decline, behavioral problems, safety, and general care often become more than one caregiver can handle. This is when it’s important to find extra help, and residential facilities that have specialized memory care programs are often the best solution.
In addition to providing a safe environment, memory care programs seek to delay or halt cognitive decline while providing the opportunity for a social, independent lifestyle.
To choose the best memory care facilities in Des Moines, our team of researchers started by using our unique methodology to develop a list of contenders. We further refined the list in the next phase of our process by completing hands-on research for each one of the companies that we developed. Finally, we compiled online reviews from residents and families and wrote summaries of each facility that made it through our selection process.
Overall, our team:
Located in one of Des Moines’ most desirable downtown neighborhoods just five minutes from major medical centers and cultural venues, this Newbury Living Community is situated on a beautifully landscaped campus. 3801 Grand has a 90-resident capacity, with 34 apartments allocated to Independent Living, and 44 dedicated to Assisted Living. 12 apartments house memory care residents in alcoves or one-bedroom units. This intimate, secure neighborhood makes it easy for staff members to become familiar with each resident’s abilities and preferences. Three daily meals and snacks are served on red dinnerware to stimulate appetite, and adaptive utensils and mealtime assistance are available. Memory care residents participate in a variety of planned and spontaneous activities that include music therapy, local outings, daily exercise and social events.
"Clean, cozy and caring” is how many describe this intimate senior living community known for its warm and welcoming environment. One relative shares, "The community, especially the memory care where my aunt lives, feels like family now. My aunt is physically healthier than she has been in a long time because of the care she receives at 3801 Grand.”
Situated in a quiet neighborhood on the north side of town near Montgomery County Memorial Hospital and Red Oak Pharmacy, Arlington Place of Red Oak offers seniors service-enriched housing in a family-like environment. Memory care residents have staff available 24 hours per day for assistance and are protected by a security gate and emergency call system. Managers and health care coordinators work together to provide the help each resident needs while encouraging their independence. Several events are planned every day of the month, including religious services, exercises, social gatherings, games and reading clubs. Guests are always welcome to visit whether it's for a morning meal or an overnight stay. Scheduled transportation is available to local destinations.
Reviews for Arlington Place of Red Oak mention that the atmosphere of the facility is very positive and that there are a lot of events to attend. A friend of several residents wrote, "They really like living there, and staff is so kind and willing to lend a helping hand ... The apartments are clean, the facility smells nice, and there is a Bistro area that has drinks available."
Courtyard Estates - Pleasant Hill is an assisted living and memory care facility located in suburban Pleasant Hills, Iowa. Besides assistance with the activities of daily living, the staff leads residents in fitness programs, such as tai chi, chair yoga and the dynamic ForeverFit exercise program. Many activities utilize homey common areas, such as holiday and birthday parties. Outside activities include bbq's, picnics and karaoke nights. Courtyard Estates offers Dakim BrainFitness, a proven brain-training program that aids residents in improving their cognitive functioning. The community provides transportation services to appointments and errands in town, and there are many scenic parks for day trips with loved ones who visit. And, nearby Copper Creek Lake Park has walking trails and seating areas to accommodate long strolls.
"This is a beautiful community. I was very impressed. Staff seems to be very caring and attentive," according to one reviewer. Others praise the food and memory care staff.
In addition to its community partnerships and on-site healthcare services, Edencrest at Beaverdale provides seniors with an offering of sensory-stimulating activities designed to help people with dementia maintain their physical abilities while providing plentiful opportunities for socialization. Using board-certified music therapists, the community helps residents increase their mood, physical and verbal activity through the Music Speaks music therapy program. The PointClickCare program keeps residents up-to-date on advancements in digital technology, while the Live 2 B Healthy exercise program offers everyone the chance to improve their balance and flexibility. Residents can choose from a variety of spacious accommodations that include private bathrooms and kitchenettes.
"Edencrest at Beaverdale is wonderful. The staff has been fantastic. It's always clean and well lit. There are lots of activities," said one resident's family member. Other visitors and residents have mentioned how impressed they were with the friendliness of staff members and the diverse slate of activities.
Glenwood Place provides independent living, assisted living and memory care options in a homelike environment. Staff aim to promote the dignity and independence of residents, while providing the support they need. The facility has a full-time registered nurse on staff and cares for the health of residents with monthly vitals clinics, exercise classes and massage therapy. Memory care residents can enjoy the outdoors in a private, enclosed courtyard and receive coaching and close supervision with a focus on maintaining everyday skills. Life enrichment activities include games, crafts and music therapy, and the community’s Dare to Dream program helps seniors realize long-held wishes. Other amenities residents can enjoy include a fitness center and spa room.
Reviewers of Glenwood Place are quick to mention the clean, comfortable living environment, with one stating, "It was everything I could have wished for my mother.” Customers also describe staff as friendly and helpful. Many state it's clear staff love the residents and are willing to go above and beyond to provide good experiences for seniors.
Journey Senior Services is a locally owned and operated 24-bed memory care facility in Carroll, Iowa. The property is surrounded by a serene landscape dotted with farms and wide-open fields, giving residents a peaceful view out every window. This intentionally designed assisted living center for the memory impaired replicates a warm, homelike environment. Residents live in private studio suites and gather in cozy common areas with calming colors and simple furnishings that include a chapel, a spa and salon and an activity room. Meals are served at tables for four in a large dining room with a grand piano, and numerous outdoor areas encourage walking and safe exploring. The experienced caregivers deliver individualized daily programs filled with fun and meaningful activities to reduce feelings of fear and confusion while promoting self-esteem. Common activities include music, arts and crafts, brain wellness activities and physical exercise.
This family-run community provides relatives with immense relief knowing their loved ones are being nurtured by such a compassionate, professional staff. "We couldn’t be happier with the care Dad is receiving at Journey ... Communication among the staff is outstanding, and we know Dad is in the best hands possible,” shares one daughter.
Parker Place provides a continuum of care for seniors in a home-style living environment. The facility has restaurant-style dining and residents can take advantage of the on-site barber shop and beauty salon. There are registered nurses on staff, and seniors have emergency pendants for when they need immediate care. Activities and wellness program help keep seniors active and scheduled transport is available to take residents to appointments or nearby shops and restaurants. Dedicated staff trained in caring for people with dementia aim to provide a high quality of life for memory care residents. Life enrichment activities are tailored to individuals' preferences and abilities in the memory care center, and residents can also enjoy music therapy, gardening and weekly outings.
Happy reviewers described the fine food provided at Parker Place, with one mentioning the "exceptional homemade treats.” The good range of activities available was also mentioned by family members. Staff were described as attentive and responsive, with one reviewer stating, "I’m very happy with the staff and how they care for her.”
Seniors find Christ-centered, award-winning memory care at Perry Lutheran Homes’ Willis campus in Central Iowa. While the nearby Spring Valley campus offers assisted living for residents with early-stage memory loss, the Willis property cares for those with mid-stage to advanced dementia-related illnesses in the CCDI, St. James and St. John’s Neighborhoods. Innovative life-skill stimulation areas are part of the person-centered approach provided to residents by a full-time care staff trained and certified through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. The nurturing homelike environment supports each resident to reach their full potential using art, pet, and Music & Memory® therapies, the IdentitE program, interaction with children from the on-site daycare, and the user-friendly iN2L (It’s Never 2 Late) technology. Residents have access to on-site physical, occupational and speech therapies as well as end-of-life care.
"Caring, compassion, innovation and excellence” are often-cited attributes of the Perry Lutheran Home facilities. In addition to the award-winning memory care neighborhoods, there’s an on-site intergenerational daycare that promotes interaction between residents and children. One gentleman shares, "When I visit my wife and see the care she and the other residents are getting, I am so thankful there is a place like this.”
Prairie Hills at Ottumwa aims to provide seniors with an active and engaging lifestyle. The facility has a wide range of life enriching activities that encourage wellness and lifelong learning. There are also opportunities to engage in fundraising, volunteering and intergenerational projects that keep seniors connected to the surrounding community. Residents enjoy seasonal menus designed by the community’s executive chef in a restaurant-style dining room. A Montessori-inspired memory care philosophy has a positive approach to care that supports residents’ ideas and choices and gives them a sense of belonging and purpose. The memory care neighborhood is specially designed to nurture activity, exercise and rest. Memory care residents also benefit from the facility’s partnership with the Center for Applied Research in Dementia.
Residents' family members appreciate the care provided and range of community activities at Prairie Hills at Ottumwa. The children of one resident stated, "Thank you to the staff at Prairie Hills for all you do for her and for all the other residents who always are active and doing things." According to another reviewer, "The staff is absolutely wonderful."
Residents of SunnyBrook at Fairfield can enjoy an active, engaging lifestyle. In its efforts to promote wellness and independence, the facility offers a variety of Montessori-inspired life-enrichment activities for the mind, body and soul, including cocktail hour gatherings, group crafts, guest speakers, devotional services and exercises, such as strength training and yoga. The facility features a specially designed neighborhood for seniors with Alzheimer's and other types of memory loss. Its signature lifestyle program, Spark, celebrates each resident's past and focuses on creating opportunities for them within the community that match their interests and abilities. The team of dedicated, caring staff are on-site to provide comprehensive care services, including bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management and regular assessments. Residents are treated to three daily meals prepared by the facility's executive chef using seasonal ingredients, and they can enjoy both signature menu items and daily specials.
Residents love the homelike environment, and their families are, "grateful for the caring environment that Sunnybrook provides." The facility is frequently recognized for its diverse programming. As the daughter of a current resident shares, "There are many activities available to the residents from musical offerings, educational speakers and parties for various holidays."
This masterfully planned senior living community spans 13 acres in Polk County, Iowa. The Bridges at Ankeny offers assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, long-term care, respite care and hospice services. The campus also includes a specially designed memory care community with architectural elements, floor plans and room decor adopted for the special needs of residents, enabling them to move about freely and safely. Caregivers strive to maximize each individual’s unique capabilities by creating activities that encourage strengths and help improve weaknesses. Reminiscence therapy, based on personal memories, plays a key role in the program, promoting cognitive functions and stimulating memory. Private apartments with private bathrooms encourage independence, and personal furnishings provide a comforting sense of familiarity. The fully secured environment includes protected outdoor spaces and a family-style dining room environment that encourages residents to socialize.
This warm and caring community receives praise and gratitude from family members. One granddaughter shares, "Every visit to Iowa I come to see my grandma, and she is surrounded by staff that really are compassionate and hardworking individuals ... I’ve been to other care centers that haven’t come close to this level of cleanliness, love and compassion.”
Conveniently located near churches, parks and restaurants, Vintage Hills of Indianola is a senior living community in Indianola, Iowa, offering assisted living and memory care. As part of the Ebenezer Dimensions Program, memory care residents receive support from 24-hour caregivers specially trained in research-backed dementia care techniques, and they have access to on-site physical and occupational therapists as well as speech pathologists. Residents receive three nutritious meals a day and all-day snacks. The diverse event calendar includes a variety of stimulating activities and outings designed to help seniors facing the challenges of dementia stay connected with their surroundings. In addition to the premise's controlled access entry technology, residents benefit from the safety of the in-room emergency response systems.
Residents and visitors give high praise to the community's accommodating staff and quality dining. One resident's family member said, "The staff was absolutely friendly. They were really kind. My dad said he wouldn't move in without his dog, and at Vintage Hills, they were really welcoming in that regard."