Why Look for Outside Care in Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities?

It’s an unfortunate truth that Alzheimer’s disease can’t be managed in the later stages without special care.


Cognitive decline eventually makes basic activities like showering or going to the bathroom impossible. Even getting dressed can become too difficult.

The worst part, however, is that someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia will not be safe at home alone.

Even with outside services, taking care of someone with dementia at home will eventually be nearly impossible.

In the later stages, support from family and friends in dealing with the disease will no longer be enough.

Assisted living or memory care may best provide for someone with Alzheimer’s by combing all the necessary elements of healthcare, housing, and support.

Understandably it’s difficult to broach this topic with family and friends, which is why it’s a good idea to read this article. Understanding your potential options is vital if you want to maximize your loved ones’ remaining twilight years.

Memory Care

For the latest stages of Alzheimer’s, Memory Care is the ideal solution. Aka SCUs (special care units) and Alzheimer’s care units, these are both flexible options.

They can be either private rooms or shared rooms. They may operate as part of an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility or independently somewhere else.

There is 24-hour supervision for Alzheimer’s patients by trained staff who help with their specific needs.

SCUs offer everything that assisted living does plus more. You have increased supervision and memory exercises that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Other activities might include music, art, games, etc.

Assisted Living

These provide the right amount of care for those in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s. While the early stages might not be as severe, activities of daily living are still tricky. Additionally, other activities of everyday life that increase happiness are also more difficult without assisted living.

The living situation typically is a private studio, private apartment, or shared apartment where staff are available around the clock. This setup works fine for those who are mostly independent but still need help with ADLs (activities of daily living).

Also, transportation is available from the Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities to the doctors’ offices as well as social gatherings. Moreover, they have social gatherings of their own in the form of shared dining halls.


Paying for Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

For both these types of services, different factors are affecting the costs. For example, the type of room (shared or private), the level of care required, etc.

However, due to the extra care required in memory care units, these are more expensive at $5,400 on average compared to $3,700 for assisted living.

Something else that you should consider is the 2019 and 2020 changes in Medicare laws.

Medicare advantage, the program that lets private insurers partner with Medicare, is allowing under their supplemental insurance “assisted living” to be defined as a beneficiary “home.”

While it won’t cover every expense in assisted living homes, it will still include some costs. This change will help a significant portion of Medicare recipients, one-third of which are enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

How MCUs are Built vs Alzheimer’s Assisted Living Facilities

MCUs are designed architecturally to house late-stage Alzheimer’s patients. An example of this is creating circular rooms because a late-stage dementia patient will feel stressed running into barriers.

This also allows them to roam around safely.

Moreover, MCUs don’t have kitchens unlike many assisted living units do – this further helps reduce stress for residents.

Also, when it comes to security, even though assisted living has security measures in place, MCUs take it more seriously since later stage dementia patients wander around more often.

With that being said though, both kinds of locations often offer a secure outdoor area where patients can wander around safely without risk of them leaving the property.

Since later stage dementia patients can get stressed more easily, MCUs focus more on providing relaxing environments – this can include TV rooms or brightly colored rooms with plenty of natural lighting.

Amenities can get even more creative with some places having fish tanks to stimulate the appetite of residents (decreased appetite is a common problem with Alzheimer’s patients).

Medication Management

Different states have different rules and regulations regarding medicine management in both MCUs and Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities.

For instance, California and Illinois allow residents to take their medication while other states are stricter.

Wisconsin and Arizona require staff to give medications. It will help if you consider these factors during your research.

Medicine is important for Alzheimer’s patients, and assistance is often required. But despite these facts, various states have their own rules on how this works in MCUs and Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities.

Also, in assisted living facilities, patients are allowed to administer their medicines, wherein MCUs are not. The rules differ for CBD though and again vary state by state.

Staff and Residents Differences


When it comes to staff, in both environments, the staff knows how to help with ADLs.

What differentiates them however is the level of their training when it comes to an understanding of how Alzheimer’s and Dementia progresses. This understanding includes knowing how to respond to disruptive behavior and communicate with these patients.

As for the resident to staff ratio, there are no national regulations. It’s up to each facility to determine the ideal ratio of staff for their programs and services.

The only thing that’s pretty universal is the higher staff to patient ratio in MCUs, due to the later stages of Dementia requiring more care.

An ideal in this situation is 1 staff member to every 5 residents, but frequently it can be 6 to 1 or more.

Do keep in mind that there are particular instances where even in the best run and efficient MCUs, a resident might require more individual care that goes outside the bounds of what is normally possible.

When this occurs, the family might be required to pay more for these extra hours of outside care assistance.

Need Help Choosing an Assisted Living Facility?


It’s essential to do your due diligence in searching for a facility. All communities differ in terms of cost, services provided, size, staff ratios, state rules, and so on. It can be an overwhelming task to find the right facility that fits your loved one’s needs especially if you spend your time caring for them. Get in touch with us here, and we’d be glad to help you.