Memory care is a distinct form of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other conditions caused by abnormal changes to the brain. With memory conditions on the rise, we—as children, spouses, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends—have many questions and often don’t know where to start.

How can I help my loved one? Where do I start? What resources are available? Where can I find support? Where will my loved one live? How will I tell them? These are some of the many questions that go through our heads when someone we care about has dementia.

When you notice your loved one becoming forgetful, keep track of these occurrences. Make sure you see a pattern before reaching out to their health care provider. If you do see a pattern, discuss these concerns with their doctor and your family member.

The average cost of memory care is about $5,000 a month for a single resident, but these facilities provide 24-hour supervised care for patients with all stages of the disease.

Medicare covers inpatient hospital care and some doctors’ fees. It also covers other medical items for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia who are age 65 or older. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care under limited circumstances. However, custodial long-term nursing home care is not covered.

Although assisted living communities may have memory care units on the premises, the two types of care are not synonymous. Memory care is a distinct form of long-term skilled nursing that caters specifically to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other memory conditions.

If you are at a standstill on where to go for answers, ask your manager or human resources department if you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Work-Life Benefit. These benefits offer many resources that can help you successfully manage the many challenges related to your loved one’s struggles.

For other senior care resources, check out the links below.