Over the past few weeks, I have been helping a family find an Alzheimer’s community for a loved one. Donna lives on her own and has in-home care from 9:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. But recently, after the caregivers left, Donna wandered. Although the family alarmed the doors, her wandering and rapid cognitive loss signaled it was time to look for a secure, professional care environment.
Before the onset of her Alzheimer’s, Donna was a firebrand – community activist, teacher – a woman who went back to school and got a PhD in her late 60’s. Like many families who deeply care for their loved ones, making the decision to take Donna from her home and put her into a “facility” is emotionally charged. But with my help, they were able to find a right-fit community and are now convinced, not only will Donna be safe and secure, she will be given an opportunity to thrive. The community the family chose is Silverado – The Huntington Memory Care Community in Alhambra.
Isolation, boredom and lack of stimulation can speed mental decline. While a natural first tendency is to try and keep a loved one at home, with Alzheimer’s and memory issues, social engagement is key to slowing progression. Silverado’s emphasis on purposeful engagement for its residents was key to the choice for Donna.
At the Silverado Alhambra community, residents bake dog biscuits and volunteer at the local animal shelter. They teach each other skills; they stay relevant. Cheryl Stollman, Director of Engagement, said she would find a cause for Donna to champion and make sure Donna’s participation was at a level that she would succeed. And, the clincher….Donna’s dog Emma could come live with them.
Silverado, The Huntington Memory Care Community
Alzheimer’s and Memory Care communities can be broken into three general categories:
- Dedicated, Memory Care communities
- Continuing Care Communities
- Specialty Board and Care Homes
Dedicated Memory Care Communities
Silverado specializes in memory care. Each location (there are five in the greater Los Angeles metro area including one near The Grove) is fully dedicated to serving the needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Other similar communities include Meridian Senior Living’s Bella Mar in Santa Monica and Regency Park in Pasadena.
Silverado and Bella Mar, in particular, are pioneers in memory care. The Silverado Nexus program emphasizes physical exercise, stress reduction, purposeful social activities and cognitive exercises. Bella Mar, operated by Meridian Senior Living, employs a Montessori-Based Dementia Program, engaging the senses and maximizing the opportunities patients have to reconnect with a world they’re losing access to. Researchers and caregivers are increasingly finding that sensory experiences created through physical activities and art or music therapy, gives loved ones with Alzheimer’s positive emotions that they may have lost the ability to experience.
Outdoor Living Room at Bella Mar
Dedicated Memory Care communities like these allow for greater movement around the facility. Usually just outer doors or outside gates are locked, allowing the resident to move freely around the property including the outdoor space.
Prices run anywhere from $4,000 to $11,000 per month depending on community, level of service and location.
Continuing Care Communities
Sunrise Senior Living, Belmont Village, and Atria Park are a few of the larger, well-run operators of continuing care communities in Los Angeles. These communities cater largely to an assisted living clientele but have growing secured dementia wings within the properties. They provide a continuum of care, meaning a client who may have only mild cognitive impairment can begin by living in the regular assisted living quarters and transition to the secured floors as their dementia progresses to a point that they need closer supervision and a smaller living environment. This is an excellent option for your loved one because they are able to stay amidst an active population as long as possible and don’t need to leave the building when moving to a secured area becomes necessary.
Sunrise Senior Living has locations in Beverly Hills, Studio City, Santa Monica, and Playa Vista. Each location has its own personality, clientele and building amenities. Sunrise is known for developing Individual Service Plans (ISPs) for each resident and assigning them a Designated Care Manager. All Sunrise locations offer Reminiscence Neighborhoods, secure and comfortable living areas specifically designed for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other forms of memory loss.
Sunrise Senior Living Memory Corner
Each Belmont Village location is unique, responding to the clientele and community in which it is located. But the philosophy of Belmont binds these communities in Westwood, Encino, Hollywood and Burbank --- dedication to providing a happy, self-directed environment within a supportive community. Belmont Village offers two levels of memory care. “Circle of Friends” is a program for residents with Mild Cognitive Impairment living within the regular assisted living community. Circle of Friends includes an enhanced calendar to encourage socialization, cognitive function, self-esteem and confidence. Dedicated Memory Care Neighborhoods are smaller, secured wings within each Belmont Village building offering programming geared to the specific needs of residents.
Atria Park has one location in Los Angeles, a luxury community in Pacific Palisades. With only 40 apartments, Atria is able to customize activities for its residents. In the 15 apartments dedicated to memory care residents in the Life Guidance Memory Care wing, residents receive thoughtful, individualized care plans with great attention to detail.
Memory Care Dining Room, Atria Park Pacific Palisades
These are just a few of my favorite continuing care communities in Los Angeles. There are dozens. Pricing can vary widely depending on location, amenities and level of care. Financial services company Genworth, www.genworth.com, estimates average 2015 cost of care at an LA assisted living community to be $3800/month. We are finding the range to be $3000 at the low end to $12,000/month.
Board and Care Homes
There are hundreds of small residential homes catering to seniors in the LA area, most licensed for six beds, although some can get waivers for up to 25 beds. Board and Cares generally cater to a more fragile population needing closer supervision and assistance with Activities of Daily Life (ADL’s).
Two stand-outs in my mind that cater to dementia residents are Raya’s Paradise and Astoria Quality Senior Living. Raya's Paradise Residential Care Communities is a group of six independently owned and operated luxury board & care homes located in West Hollywood. Each home is run by a licensed administrator who is experienced in geriatric care with an emphasis on dementia care. Each of the homes is secured, appropriate for an elder who requires constant supervision and engagement. From the 24 hour alert in-house staff and wander guard system to the full range of supplemental services offered, Raya's Paradise provides a very safe and comfortable enriched life for those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other advanced memory care issues.
One of Raya’s six homes
On a quiet tree lined street close to The Grove, Astoria Senior Living’s 13 light-filled, spotless and spacious rooms await those facing the challenges of late stage dementia. This is a place for those who are ready for a quieter, more peaceful environment. Licensed to accommodate non-ambulatory, dementia, bedridden and hospice residents, compassionate caregivers get to know the residents, closely supervising them and tending to their daily needs. Low key, individualized activities are offered -- it may just be looking at magazines, listening to music, talking or receiving a massage. Pleasant outdoor space provides sunshine, the smell of home baked bread and cookies permeates. This really feels like a home.
Board and Cares homes come at all different price points. Raya’s is at the top of the market, at $7,000/mo. Astoria runs about $4000.
This is just a sample of the Memory Care communities in the LA area that I have visited lately. If one of these communities interests you, or you would like to know about others, please call me at 310-853-8282 for a no cost, no obligation consultation.