« Return to Ageless Advice

Family Decisions

Memory Care Choices

older adult child woman comforting elderly mother as elderly mother looks off into distance

My mom has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t need full-time care — yet. Should she move in with us, or should we think about other options?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15 million Americans are providing unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. And while each of these situations is different, these families all face the same question at some point – what’s best for my loved one?

If you’re in early-stage or even late-stage caregiving, it’s time to look at some of the pros and cons of your options: professional in-home care, family caregiving in your home, and senior living communities with memory care.

Professional In-home Care. You can find in-home agencies that provide nonmedical help for those with memory loss, like companion services, help with cooking, shopping and housekeeping, or personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming. There are also skilled medical services like wound care, physical therapy, injections, etc.

Pros

  • In-home care lets your loved one stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home. This is less disruptive and stressful.
  • They get professional care, whether the aides are trained in memory care or are licensed to provide medical care.
  • These services let you focus on being family, not the family caregiver.

Cons

  • Professional help can get expensive. The national median cost for homemaker services is $3,994 per month. Home health aides average $4,099 per month.
  • You may need to consider the costs of making home modifications that will allow your loved one to stay at home safely.
  • In-home aides aren’t always available 24/7. Caregiving gaps could lead to safety concerns.
  • Some people won’t accept care from a person they don’t know.
  • Living at home increases the potential for isolation, which can have serious consequences for their health and well-being.

Family Caregiving in Your Home. Moving Mom or Dad in with you is an option for some families to consider.

Pros

  • It lets them be with people they know and who know them well.
  • They can live in an environment they’re at least somewhat familiar with.
  • It lets you give back to them with loving care.
  • You can closely monitor their health and progression.

Cons

  • It’s likely you’ll face unexpected behavior and health issues that are challenging to manage.
  • Caregiving can be very stressful and disruptive to your work and family life.
  • Becoming a caregiver can be challenging to your relationship with that person.
  • Caregiving expenses can take a toll on your budget, too. Some caregivers spend thousands of dollars each year on food, medication and medical treatments.
  • You may need to modify your home to make it safe for your loved one, and costs can add up quickly.

Senior Living Communities with Memory Care. You can find assisted living, memory care, or continuing care retirement communities that offer 24-hour care for those who need memory support.

Pros

  • Your loved one will receive 24/7 professional care.
  • Communities offer programs and activities created specifically to enhance the quality of life for residents.
  • The living environments are designed to be welcoming, comforting and secure.
  • Many memory care programs employ technology and therapies that are engaging and stimulating, and which help residents thrive.
  • Your loved one can interact with other residents and staff every day, preventing isolation.
  • Many communities offer family support to help you navigate this stage.
  • You can visit often and engage as a family member, not as a caregiver.

Cons

  • Costs vary by state. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the national average monthly cost for assisted living is around $3,600. Add about $1,150 more for memory care. For those who also need skilled nursing care, the national median cost for a private room is $8,121 per month (Genworth, 2017).
  • Making the transition out of their familiar home can be stressful.
  • Your loved one may object to move.
  • Not all communities or programs are the same, so you have to do a lot of homework to find the right fit. Download this Memory Care Visit Checklist to help you assess the places you tour.

When you start having these conversations, make sure your loved one takes part in them. And talk to their doctor about their needs, both now and down the road. By working together, you can make a family decision that ensures your loved one gets the right care.

Explore more Ageless Advice categories:

Family Decisions

How to navigate family dynamics when it comes to caring for an aging parent.

View all posts »