1. In the 1990's I designed the memory care program for our then new company, Summerville Assisted Living. At that time the industry’s existing model was to essentially place a keypad entry on the door, while locating the unit as far from the lobby (typically top corner of the community) as possible. Some even promoted that, other than the lock, the memory care unit was identical to the rest of the community. Summerville was among the first providers to utilize previous experience in the rehabilitation field (including programs for head/brain injury, stroke, and reversible forms of dementia) to redesign this model, specifically the understanding that such programs are therapeutic milieus. While the can still be homelike, they must also be designed to minimize confusion and agitation, maximize the skill sets of the residents, and provide safety beyond avoidance of elopement.

    Assisted living has since advanced more in the provision of care and housing for those with cognitive deficits more than any other industry, producing state-of-the-art facilities for this purpose. However, the caution advised in the above article remains significant. Providers should not be adding or expanding upon this service unless prepared to understand advanced practices in the “Trifecta” of facility design, staffing/training, and programming. While the article additionally references “flexible” units for either traditional or memory care services, the task can be more difficult and expensive than anticipated. Just one example would be the need for a mini-kitchen in a traditional living unit, where even the cabinetry and plumbing is an unneeded expense that can additionally present problems for a memory care resident. While the purpose of these designs seems to be to guard against a cure for Alzheimer’s, a cure is likely at least a decade or more away. In reality there is already a tremendous under supply of and need for memory care units – for a population expected to then double in number in by 2030. For providers seeking differentiation and high occupancy the better strategy may be to focus less on flexibility and more on the provision of state-of-the-art services.

  2. These memory care places in Illinois that require private payments are priced way out of reach with fees that normally run from 4-8 thousand a month. the normal person cannot afford to live there very long or not at all in these resession times.