What to Expect in a Memory Care Facility

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative condition that often includes wandering, disorientation and depression. While there’s currently no known cure, there are several treatment options that can help those diagnosed with memory loss.

How Memory Care Helps People Living With Alzheimer's Disease

Residential memory care services are designed to address the unique needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Specialized caregivers provide memory care residents with day-to-day supervision, guidance and support in a safe, highly structured setting. This structure and support help to minimize confusion, agitation and related health issues that many people with Alzheimer’s experience as their disease progresses.

Not only can memory care help the person who has memory loss, but these facilities give families the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved one is safe and well cared for. Memory care programs eliminate much of the stress of family caregiving while giving residents a friendly community to enjoy daily interactions with their peers.

Memory Care Units and Facilities

Memory care services are usually provided in either a special area within an assisted living community or a dedicated memory care facility. Unlike skilled nursing facilities, also known as nursing homes, memory care units are designed to look and feel much like a traditional residential setting. Some communities feature small cottage-style housing units clustered around a community building with recreational facilities.

Memory care units include private or semiprivate living spaces, such as studio and one-bedroom apartments, equipped with a private, wheelchair-accessible bathroom. These living spaces can be personalized with family photos, a favorite chair and other items, and most units include cable TV and telephone service. To keep residents safe, memory care apartments are generally free of cooking appliances, although some units have small kitchenettes with a microwave and fridge.

To promote healthy socialization and reduce isolation, memory care units also include several common areas and community spaces, such as a dining room and living room. Residents are encouraged to spend their days engaging in community-based activities rather than remaining isolated in their private suites.

Residential Memory Care Amenities

Memory care facilities offer many of the same types of amenities found in assisted living and retirement communities. These amenities vary with each location and often include:

  • A therapeutic arts and crafts room
  • A private dining room for special events and family celebrations
  • A fully fenced courtyard with walking paths and seating areas
  • Fitness center
  • Therapeutic whirlpool
  • A relaxation room equipped with low-level lighting
  • Common areas, including one or more recreation rooms with televisions
  • A game room
  • En-suite cable television
  • Community-wide Wi-Fi service
  • An activity room with a piano
  • Resident gardens
  • Office space for visiting doctors

Specialized memory care amenities may also include:

  • Personalized memory boxes placed outside each resident room to help with wayfinding
  • Noninvasive anti-wandering devices, such as the Wanderguard system
  • Community-wide security cameras
  • Delayed-egress exterior doors
  • Medical alert pendants for each resident
  • 24/7 on-site security

Residential facilities for those with Alzheimer’s disease usually have one or more enclosed outdoor spaces equipped with walking paths, resident gardens and dining areas.

Residential Memory Care Services

As with most residential care types, memory care includes private or semiprivate accommodations, along with three meals daily plus snacks.

Memory care services also include specialized therapeutic recreational programming designed to help delay the onset of dementia symptoms and improve residents’ overall quality of life. These programs include small group and one-on-one activities, such as:

  • Pet therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Memory games
  • Speech therapy
  • Escorted outings to local attractions
  • In-house worship services