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A Guide to Finding the Right Memory Care Community for a Loved One

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenOctober 22, 2018

A vital part of being a dementia caregiver is to be on the lookout for signs that your parent or senior loved one needs a higher level of care.

Being educated on the types of care available and how to assess your loved one’s needs will help ensure proper care and safety issues are met long term. Read our guide on the various levels and types of dementia care available, so that you know how to find the right memory care community when the time comes.

Dementia: Types of Memory Care

Some common types of memory care include:

1. Adult Day Center

An adult day center offers a person with dementia a safe, structured environment to be in during the day, when the primary caregiver is at work, or taking a much-needed break for self-care.

Adult day centers offer activities, direct supervision, socialization and more. People with dementia are offered an opportunity to interact socially with others (an important activity for brain health), participate in programs and receive a healthy lunch and snack (at some adult day centers).

An adult day center is a perfect solution for caregivers who work part time or full time during the day. Most adult day centers are open from 7-10 hours each day and many offer daily pick up and drop off services. Others may provide care during the evenings or on weekends.

2. In-Home Care

In-home dementia and memory care services are provided in a house instead of a structured care facility. These services can include around the clock caregiving, housekeeping, licensed nursing care, personal care or respite care.

In-home care oftentimes allows the person with dementia to maintain a high level of comfort and dignity. It can also be a good choice for caregivers, who can care for their loved one in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Common types of in-home care services include:

  • Companion services: Activities, socialization and supervision
  • Homemaker services: May include help with housekeeping, meal preparation or shopping
  • Personal care services: Help with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and other types of personal care
  • Skilled care: Involves licensed professional care, such as insulin injections, or other types of shots, medication administration physical therapy and other types of medical care

3. Residential Care

Residential care takes place in a community environment, designed for those who need access to emergency care and/or medical supervision, 24/7. This type of care is usually for those who have a higher level of medical needs than those in an in-home care environment.

It’s important to note that there are several types of residential memory care communities, designed to meet a continuum of needs by providing various levels of care.

Types of residential care include:

  • Assisted Living
    • Assisted living communities are for those who need access to emergency care and help with meals and medical care on a part-time basis, but are not yet in need of 24/7 care. This type of community usually involves an apartment-style living space, organized social interaction with other residents and private supportive services for those who require part-time help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing and mobility.
  • Continuum of Care
    • A continuum of care community is designed to meet the specific needs of a person with dementia — as needs change. A resident’s need level may progress from part-time memory care to 24/7 services, all in one location. The resident can receive different levels of care by simply moving to a different floor or location within the same memory care community.
  • Independent Living
    • Independent living communities are a senior living option for individuals who have a high level of independent functioning. This type of community would be most appropriate for those in the early stages of dementia. People with dementia generally need a higher level of care than an independent living community provides. However, if a person with dementia has a live-in caregiver — such as a spouse — who is old enough to qualify for this type of community, this may be an option for a person with dementia. Independent living communities usually offer an apartment or condo style living space and some type of optional private duty services — such as personal care or housekeeping, either on-site or via an agreement with a third-party agency. There are usually planned group activities offered to enable seniors an opportunity to socialize with other older adults.
  • Nursing Home Care
    • Nursing home care is 24-hour care with long-term medical care. Nursing homes may offer a wide range of services, including daily care, medical treatment, occupational and physical therapy and more.

4. Respite Care

Respite care is care given by paid professionals or volunteers. Respite care can involve a person coming into the home to provide direct care to someone with dementia, or a respite care provider may perform numerous other duties, such as driving a person with dementia to medical appointments, household chores and more. Oftentimes respite care is provided by family members and friends.

Memory Care Community Services

Here are some common memory care community services offered to residents living with dementia:


Most adult day centers and memory care communities offer some type of dementia activities. It may be art projects, a group reading, a physical activity or more.

Behavioral Management

Some memory care communities offer special services to help with negative behaviors associated with dementia (such as combativeness, hallucinations and wandering).


Coping with dementia is not always easy. Some memory care communities may offer this type of supportive care for individuals with dementia and their family members. Social workers often arrange for this care and set up medical appointments, transportation needs and more.

Health Services

Health services include any type of medical treatment, such as blood pressure checks, insulin shots, medications and wound care. Some memory care communities have staff on site that can provide health services and some do not.


Most, but not all, memory care communities offer hot meals. Many memory care communities have apartments with kitchens and the residents are independent enough to make their own meals. Others can take advantage of hot meals on site and may opt for a combination of one or two hot meals per day, then make one meal themselves — again, depending on the level of independence of the resident. Memory care communities that offer the highest level of care generally provide meals and snacks throughout the day.

Occupational/Physical Therapy

Many memory care communities have an occupational, physical or speech therapist onsite or on-call.

Personal Care

This involves assistance with ADLs and more. Each memory care community offers different types of personal care. Some may even have a salon on site. Others contract with outside professionals, such as home health care agencies, to offer residents a wider range of services.

Ways to Find the Right Level of Memory Care for a Senior Loved One

Here are some steps to follow to identify the right level of care and memory care community for your parent or senior loved one with dementia:

  1. Ask for references from other families who have experienced the care provided at your prospective memory care community.
  2. Ask what type of background check is performed on the memory care community’s staff members.
  3. Evaluate your parent or senior loved one’s care needs and create a list in order of priorities.
  4. Prepare a list of questions to ask during every memory care community call or visit.
  5. Write out the information you plan to share with the potential memory care community. Familiarize the community with your loved one’s needs and wants, as well as his/her past accomplishments and the things that help trigger memories. The better the staff understands your parent or senior loved one, the higher quality of care he/she will receive.

How did you find the right memory care community for yourself, a parent or senior loved one? We’d like to hear your stories and any suggestions you may have in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen

Sherry Christiansen

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