If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to start planning early for suitable housing to meet care needs as the disease and its symptoms progress. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is at risk for wandering, which can be very dangerous. This is because an individual with Alzheimer’s disease may not remember his or her name or address for periods of time, even in familiar places. Therefore, seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may need a safe and protective residence.

Alzheimer’s care facilities

If you are taking care of or have love ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, many housing options may be available. These housing options are also called Alzheimer’s care facilities and may provide different levels of care to meet the needs of their residents.

These are the different types of Alzheimer’s care facilities and are explained in more details below:

  • Retirement homes or senior living communities
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Alzheimer’s special care units or memory care units
  • Continuing care retirement communities

Retirement homes, also known as independent or senior living communities, may offer an appropriate setting for someone with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) who is still able to care for himself or herself independently but has difficulty managing a house, suggests the Cleveland Clinic. This type of senior residence provides limited supervision and may offer opportunities for social activities, transportation and other amenities helpful to individuals with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Generally retirement homes do not provide skilled nursing care, however.

Assisted living facilities provide the step between living independently and living in a nursing home. In addition to housing, assisted living facilities offer residents support and personalized assistance. As the Alzheimer’s Association notes, assisted living may deliver the right amount of support for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who require assistance with tasks such as dressing or preparing meals but do not need skilled medical care. In these communities, residents can have their own apartments. Along with a 24-hour staff, assisted living services typically offer recreational activities, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation.

Nursing homes can be an option when a person with Alzheimer’s disease reaches the point of needing skilled care. Nursing homes offer room and board, plus round-the-clock medical care and supervision. The nursing staff will also work with the individual and family regarding Alzheimer’s care planning, special nutrition issues, other medical concerns and spiritual needs.

Alzheimer’s special care units (SCUs), also called memory care units, are designed to meet the special needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Memory care units can exist within various types of residential care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities. Often, memory care units provide people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease the balance of a communal setting and the privacy of separate bedrooms. The Alzheimer’s Association explains that you can expect staff to have specialized training in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Program activities specialize in the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The physical attributes of the memory care unit emphasize residents’ comfort, safety, and security. Often exits in these Alzheimer’s care facilities are secured to protect residents from wandering.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) provide different levels of care (independent, assisted living, and nursing home) based on individual needs. A resident who has Alzheimer’s disease may move throughout the different levels of care within the community as his or her needs change.

Although making the decision to move into a residential care facility may be difficult, it is wise to understand how different types of Alzheimer’s care facilities can meet the progressive needs of you or your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Early research into Alzheimer’s care facilities can help a person with Alzheimer’s disease to make informed decisions about his or her preferences.