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September 15, 2023

Revealing the Reality of Memory Care and Assisted Living Facilities

Memory Care and Assisted Living Facilities are present in almost every community. These establishments often resemble hotels. During a tour, they might showcase dining rooms where residents share meals, a theater room for screening old movies, and a “great room” for casual conversations. They will undoubtedly highlight a model room as well. However, most facilities prefer to guide you through the assisted living section where the majority of the residents are in a relatively stable mental state, rather than exposing you to the memory care section where individuals are grappling with dementia.

Assisted Living facilities pledge extensive services, but primarily offer meals, laundry service (where clothes might get misplaced), and room cleaning. As residents require increased levels of assistance, the charges escalate. Generally, there are five levels of care, with the base price covering Level 1. Additional charges apply for services like medication management, assistance with bathing and walking, and continence care. It’s important to note that these facilities are not designed for round-the-clock care. Despite claims, if your loved one requires constant assistance, even Level 5 care might be insufficient in a larger facility. In such cases, a more intimate six-bed facility that offers continuous supervision might be necessary.

Memory Care is essentially an extension of assisted living, with similar staffing and care levels. It is generally more expensive, and facilities assert that they conduct activities aimed at memory improvement and keeping your loved one engaged (although, based on my visits during activity time, the activities are not impressive). The primary distinctions with Memory Care are that residents have a confirmed dementia diagnosis, the starting level of care (which is pricier) includes medication management, and the premises are secured, requiring a code for exit. Staffing ratios are consistent, with a 1:20 caregiver-to-resident ratio during the day, encompassing cooks and cleaning staff, and typically only two staff members are present at night.

A service I provide is care navigation. With years of experience assisting hundreds of families, I have acquired the expertise to ensure your loved one receives the necessary care and to prepare families for the financial implications of high-level care.

It is crucial to note that both Assisted Living and Memory Care are privately funded, as Medi-Cal and Medicare do not cover memory care costs due to its classification as unskilled, despite the considerable skill required. Without proper planning, families may deplete their funds while their loved one is still in need of care. Since Medi-Cal only funds skilled care, securing a place in a Skilled Care Facility for a person with dementia can be challenging. If you require assistance navigating the available options, feel free to reach out to me.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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