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Deciding on a Memory Care Program

With the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s projected to rise to nearly 14 million by the year 2050, more senior living communities are recognizing the need for specialized memory care for those with cognitive impairments.  But how do you decide which memory care program is best for your loved one?  Below are a few questions to ask when considering a memory care program:

What type of care is offered and at what levels?
Not all memory care programs offer different levels of care, instead taking a one-size-fits-all approach.  Look for a facility that will take an individualized care approach for your loved one by offering the right care level that is needed.  Will the facility communicate with you often about the care that is being provided?  Find out when care plans will be made, who will be involved in the caretaking, and how often you’ll be updated.  A facility that provides for not only the physical, but also the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of your loved one is always best.

Will staff perform or require a complete assessment before admitting my loved one?
Most senior care living facilities require a complete assessment from a doctor, but it’s even better if the staff at a memory care facility is trained to administer an assessment in addition to the doctor’s assessment.  Notes from a doctor can fail to paint the whole picture of a person’s health, and a facility with a nurse or other trained staff can discover missing pieces of information needed to determine what form of care is best for your loved one.

What safety and security measures are in place?
Often, the safety of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can be a top concern.  Does the facility make the necessary precautions to keep your loved one secure if they happen to wander or get lost?  Are the doors kept secure and is staff present 24/7?  Is protected outdoor space available for your loved one to enjoy?

What are the living spaces like?
Does the facility offer different floor plans?  Are rooms shared or private?  There can be a vast difference between the types of living arrangements offered.  Be sure to get the details of what is offered to help determine what living scenario your loved one would be most comfortable with.  Also, is the building itself easy to navigate?  An easy-to-navigate floor plan can help lessen the chance that your loved one will get lost or confused.  A building with a circular walking path can help ease the frustrations of someone living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

What community amenities are there?
Asking this question can give the facility staff the opportunity to share what makes them stand out.  Some memory care facilities offer a wide array of amenities, such as secure outdoor space, physical exercise programs, laundry service, transportation, and nutritious meals.  If seeking a faith-based organization, look for a memory care program that also offers religious services and/or chaplain visits.  Are there a variety of activities offered to meet the individual interests and needs of the residents? A good memory care facility should be offering activities that are specially designed to help slow cognitive decline and promote physical activity.

What type of staffing is offered?
Is there staff available around-the-clock and what is the patient-to-staff ratio?  A high level of care should be provided no matter the hour of the day or night.  It is also helpful to ask how many nurses are on staff and if the facility has a regular visiting physician.

What type of training do the staff members have?
Memory care is a unique kind of caregiving with its own set of challenges.  This requires specialized training, which should be regularly reinforced.  With over 400 types of dementia possible, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, it is wise to find a care facility that recognizes and understands that not all individuals dealing with dementia are the same.

What is the cost of memory care?
Pricing can vary widely depending on the type of facility.  In general, memory care is often more expensive than traditional nursing care or assisted living.  This is due to the need for not only more staff members, but staff members with specialized training.  Speak with the facility to find out what levels of cost are offered and what types of benefits may be available.

Just as every senior is different, every memory care program is unique.  Visiting a campus and asking questions is the best way to begin the search for a memory care facility.

Snyder Village in Metamora, IL, offers two memory care programs on its campus.  Memory care for early-to-mid stage dementia is offered at Assisted Living, and memory care for mid-to-late stage dementia is available at the Health Center.  Both programs feature specialized activities to help slow cognitive decline, nutritious meals, nursing care, secured outdoor space, and loving care in a Christian environment.  Learn more by calling (309) 367-4300 or by visiting


Snyder Village in Metamora is a life plan community that offers independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, therapy, memory care, and home care.  For more information on all services available at Snyder Village, call (309) 367-4300 or visit

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