Find a Community

What Services Does Memory Care Provide?

When looking for support for an aging loved one, memory care services are an important consideration. You may be reviewing your options, looking at assisted living or nursing homes. Memory care facilities exist on their own, and memory care services may also be integrated within other senior living environments.

In this article:

Let’s take a look at the services that memory care provides and how to choose the best memory care program for your needs.

What Makes Memory Care Different?

When you think of senior living, you may think of things like support for household chores, social opportunities like games and activities, access to specially-prepared meals, and accessible medical assistance. Memory care takes these aspects of senior care a step further by catering specifically to those with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The enrichment of a memory care facility is focused on reducing confusion for residents and providing a safe environment for those who may be more apt to become disoriented.

Is there a Difference Between Memory Care and Dementia Care?

Memory care and dementia care are interchangeable terms. Memory care is the term most commonly used to refer to support for various memory-impacted conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Dementia being an overarching term that encompasses various conditions that impact cognitive functioning.

Benefits of Memory Care

When dealing with a memory-related diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease, it impacts not only the patient but their loved ones and other caregivers. Memory care provides numerous benefits to the residents, including:

  • 24/7 hands-on support for functions of daily living, ensuring that residents are safe and supported
  • Specially-trained caregivers who are experts in supporting those with memory-related conditions
  • Relief of caregiver burnout and the anxiety associated with being an untrained caregiver for a loved one experiencing memory loss
  • Specialized enrichment activities and therapeutic support for cognitive functioning
  • The reassurance that residents are nourished with regular meals and get appropriate social engagement
  • A consistent, familiar environment that helps reduce disorientation and stress
  • Immediate access to medical care

Memory Care Services at Five Star Senior Living

At Five Star Senior Living, we live up to our name in all that we do, and this includes memory care. Our specialized memory care services include:

Montessori-based dementia programming – our innovative Bridge to Rediscovery memory care program offers a nurturing, whole-person approach to memory care, catering your loved one’s environment and activities to their specific needs and preferences. Residents are supported in maintaining as much independence as possible while being safely supported by a team of trained professionals.

Customized memory care plans – we take your loved one’s entire life story into account when creating a customized memory care plan for them. This extra level of care ensures that they have as smooth a transition as possible and feel supported while living in our community.

Restaurant-quality dining with empowering choices – it’s important for those with memory-related conditions to continue to feel empowered about making choices, and to settle into predictable routines. Our memory care dining services offer an opportunity for social interaction and routine while providing residents with butler-style service to give them the power of choice over their meals to suit their taste.

Secured neighborhoods and safe environments – safety of our memory care residents is our top priority. All of our memory care neighborhoods are secured so that residents are only able to exit the property while supervised. We also ensure that our properties provide a consistent and safe environment, from visual cues to help prevent disorientation, to comfortable and familiar furniture.

Memory-specific recreational and occupational therapy – as part of our holistic approach to memory care, we ensure that residents receive personalized enrichment that helps them build a sense of purpose, keeps their spirits up, and allows them to retain as many skills as possible. We meet your loved one where they are and prioritize helping them to feel secure, valued, and engaged in their environment.

Safe opportunities for social interaction – A memory-related diagnosis can feel scary and isolating. Our caring and trained memory care professionals design programming that encourages residents to interact with one another and continue to enjoy social engagement at whatever level is most comfortable to them.

Support for families and caregivers – At Five Star, we know how stressful a memory care diagnosis can be on the family. Our compassionate memory care experts are here to provide guidance and reassurance every step of the way, empowering you to make the best choice for your family. If you’re unsure whether your loved one may need memory care, we can help you identify signs of memory loss and identify what the right next steps may be for you.

Find a Memory Care Community Near You

Choosing a memory care community can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With senior living communities in 28 states, we’re here to help you find the right memory care community for your loved one. Contact us today to take the next steps in finding the right memory care for you.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How Does Dementia Affect Sleep?

If you are the caregiver for an older adult who has dementia, you might be having difficulty getting them to sleep. Family members often say it seems like their loved one can go for days without sleeping. It makes for what experts call a “36-hour day.” It can be exhausting for the caregiver and the senior.

In this article:

While it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the cause of insomnia in a senior with dementia, there are some common issues. Here are a few to discuss with your loved one’s physician.

4 Causes of Sleep Problems in Seniors with Dementia

1. Overly busy schedule late in the day

It can be hard for people with dementia to process too much information or an overly busy environment. When a senior with dementia has an afternoon and evening schedule that is hectic, they might feel agitated and have trouble unwinding. This makes falling and staying asleep difficult.

A solution is to schedule activities and appointments early in the day. Keep the afternoon and evening quieter. Turn off the television and play soothing music instead. Take out magazines or old photos for the senior to look through. The goal should be to keep things peaceful and relaxing.

2. Sleep Apnea and other sleep disorders

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder which stops and restarts breathing during sleep. This can prevent a person’s body from getting enough oxygen and can cause snoring or gasping resulting in poor quality sleep.

According to the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, there are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when your throat muscles relax and block the airway in the throat. Central sleep apnea happens when a person’s brain stops sending the signals needed to breathe.

People who are overweight, male, or have a family history of small airways are most at risk for sleep apnea. While people with sleep apnea snore loudly, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

Share the situation with your loved one’s doctor to be sure there isn’t another problem preventing them from sleeping. Sometimes medical issues are responsible for sleep difficulties. It could be sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome.

Your physician might be able to order an in-home sleep study in lieu of a clinic-based test. That eliminates concerns about an adult who has a memory impairment spending the night in a strange environment.

3. Not having a routine

Adults with a memory impairment often do better when their days are structured and their routine stays the same. Lifestyle programs like Five Star Senior Living’s Bridge to Rediscovery establish set routines for memory care residents like activities, meals times, and hydration breaks. Researchers think having a set routine helps because it requires less short-term memory. For adults with memory loss, short-term memory is typically impacted early in the disease progression.

4. Other lifestyle and environmental issues

If none of the tips listed above seem to help, there are a few more things to consider:

  • Is their bedroom too hot?
  • Is their bed uncomfortable?
  • Is a medication or side effect causing sleeplessness?
  • Do they have undiagnosed chronic or acute pain?
  • Are they consuming too much caffeine, especially later in the day?

Dementia and Sleeping A Lot

Alternatively some people with dementia sleep a lot. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, sleeping more is a common occurrence for people with later-stage dementia. As the disease progresses the person’s brain weakens. People with dementia become exhausted when trying to communicate, eat, or understand their surroundings. Excessive sleep can be a side effect of some medication as well. It’s important to monitor a person with dementia if they are sleeping a lot to prevent any physical health problems.

Sleep Positions and Dementia

Choosing the right sleep position isn’t just about comfort; it can also have significant implications for a person’s health. Sleeping on your side is generally considered the best position for most people because it can alleviate sleep apnea and acid reflux. One study found some evidence that sleeping in specific positions “could influence the clearance of neurotoxic proteins from the brain.”

During the day, our brains accumulate toxic byproducts in the central nervous system. These are flushed away during sleep via cerebrospinal fluid. That brain waste includes beta amyloid, which is a substance found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. A study done at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) found that the natural waste clearing system in the brain works best when people sleep on their side.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

If you’ve concluded that your loved one’s quality of life would be better in a memory care community, we hope you will consider Five Star Senior Living. Our Montessori-based Bridge to Rediscovery Alzheimer’s and dementia care program provides personalized memory care based on your loved one’s specific abilities, preferences, and passions. Find a memory care community near you to learn more about how a Five Star can help your loved one with dementia rediscover a meaningful life full of joy and purpose.

How to Help Someone with Alzheimer’s Remember – 6 Effective Tips

Our memories make us who we are. They’re the good moments, the bad ones, and everything in between. They can be our happiest hours and our most important lessons learned. Which is why Alzheimer’s deterioration of memory and other mental functions makes it one of the most profoundly challenging forms of dementia.

Whether in the early stages or later stages, people with Alzheimer’s can struggle to remember recent events, conversations, and people in their lives, but with a few strategies and activities you can help support your loved one regain lost memories.

6 Tips for Helping Alzheimer’s Patients Remember

Tip #1: Develop Regular Schedules and Routines

Whether it’s making coffee and reading the news in the morning or walking the dog and watching a favorite game show in the evening, keeping a routine is one of the best ways for anyone to remember. A routine can help exercise the brain by assigning a regular physical task to each moment. 

Programs like Five Star’s Bridge to Rediscovery, design a lifestyle with each memory care resident’s specific needs in mind. Activities and schedules are built around your loved one’s abilities with an emphasis on building and maintaining skills.

Tip #2: Using Sentimental Objects and Media

We all keep photos of loved ones on our desk or put on our favorite song to match our mood. Using objects and media can help a person with Alzheimer’s use their senses like taste, touch, sound, and smell to trigger feelings and memories. Make sure your loved one has plenty of photographs of family members, has easy access to music, or gets to eat their favorite meal. These can all help Alzheimer’s patients remember special moments from their past. 

Tip #3: Encourage Physical Activity

Research shows that physical exercise can slow memory decline and impairment to cognitive function. Body movement directly impacts the brain and influences the hippocampus—where memories are stored. Many Five Star communities partner with Ageility to offer residents fitness instruction and physical therapy programs that also establish a schedule.

Tip #4: Organize with Apps, Calendars, and Journals

Smartphone app stores offer a wide range of apps to set reminders, alarms, and save notes. But smartphones aren’t the only option! A sturdy wall calendar or journal are great physical alternatives to keep track of dates and times while exercising handwriting skills. 

Tip #5: Be Patient

People with dementia may have difficulty remembering what they’re doing or where they are. This can be frustrating for them and challenging for you, but it’s important to be patient.

If your loved one is trying to remember a name or a place, give them time to explain what they are trying to say. If they are still having difficulty, help them with context or give prompts. 

If the person feels under pressure it can make remembering things much more difficult. 

Tip #6: Reach out to Family and Friends

There are many ways to help a person with Alzheimer’s remember, but one of the most important is to have support from family and friends. You may already have close family members visiting your loved one, but remember to reach out to friends. You’ll find that most people will be eager to offer support. 

As important as those close relationships are, relying only on family and friends can be stressful for everyone. No matter what you and your loved ones are going through, know that you never have to go through it alone. Five Star meets Alzheimer’s with love, compassion, and the highest level of expertise

Get the Best Memory Care & Alzheimer’s Support at Five Star

Our highly trained memory-care specialists support residents through an exclusive and innovative program called Bridge to Rediscovery. It’s a Montessori-based approach in which your loved one’s environment and activities are all designed around their specific abilities, preferences, and passions.

It’s not always easy to know when it might be time to consider memory care for a loved one. Check out our helpful guide to know the difference between normal signs of aging and signs of something more.

Learn More About Five Star’s Memory Care Communities Today

At Five Star, we know that home is when comfort and community come together. Our memory care specialists enhance our resident’s daily experiences by promoting interaction, reducing agitation, and strengthening cognitive abilities.

We take the time to get to know each and every one of our memory care residents. We learn about their lives, their careers, and their interests. We get to know their loved ones. All so we can create the right environment filled with joy and purpose.

With locations across the country, it’s never been easier to find the perfect Five Star community. Click here to find a memory care community near you.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What is Memory Care?

Memory care communities provide a home with round the clock personalized care for older adults that have conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. With skilled team members, engaging activities, and safe environments, memory care communities are designed with a focus on improving quality of life and reducing confusion for residents. There are often misconceptions about memory care—that it’s a cold, clinical facility where residents are left to entertain themselves. This is far from the truth. Resident life at a memory care community is rich and full. The best memory care communities provide your loved ones with a place that feels just like home with a warm atmosphere and community of residents that feel like family.  Many communities offer private or shared apartments that can be decorated and styled to suit your loved one. Moving a loved one who has a condition like dementia offers them engagement with activities and therapies, but it’s not just the residents who benefit. Caregivers and families can have peace of mind that their parent or grandparent is somewhere where they can thrive.

Table of Contents

How Does Memory Care Work?

When a loved one is diagnosed with a condition like Alzheimer’s, it can create a difficult mix of emotions for family members and caregivers. While day-to-day life becomes more challenging, there are ways to make a home safer for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, but it can be costly. At a memory care community, dedicated team members offer assistance to residents through enriching activities that stimulate cognition and improve wellness while helping maintain their skills for as long as possible.

At Five Star, highly trained memory care specialists enable residents with the exclusive and innovative Bridge to Rediscovery program. Through a Montessori-based approach, residents prosper in an environment and activities built around their specific abilities, preferences, and passions. With a personalized approach residents can feel valued and secure. Memory care communities offer many of the amenities that independent living and assisted living offer, but with a much higher level of comprehensive care. Amenities like robust activities calendars, customizable care plans, top-notch dining, and secure 24/7 care. Each amenity is designed to keep your loved one at their most independent. Residents are also set up with schedules with frequent water breaks and meal times to ensure health and safety. Memory care is all about relating, motivating, and appreciating. Your family becomes ours at Five Star. Team members learn all about each resident’s hobbies, interests, and former careers. Residents with memory conditions can stay connected to the world around them.

What are the benefits of Memory Care?

There are numerous benefits to memory care for both older adults with memory conditions and their family members or caregivers. When an older adult is diagnosed with a condition like Alzheimer’s memory care can cater to that person’s every need from dressing and eating to keeping them active with therapies and programs.

Taking care of a loved one with dementia is a major undertaking for anyone. Moving your loved one to memory care can give them the attention and mental stimulation they need everyday. Plus, memory care communities encourage visits! Take a trip to a community to celebrate a birthday or just to play a game with your loved one.

What’s the difference between Memory Care and Dementia Care?

Dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities like Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia that are severe enough to disrupt someone’s everyday life. Memory care, sometimes referred to as dementia care, offers curated programs and schedules for residents with memory conditions like dementia, using therapies and classes that help soothe them.

Do dementia patients need nursing care?

It depends on a person’s physical abilities. Nursing care is for a patient that needs round the clock care and monitored medical attention. A person with a dementia condition may not need a high level of medical attention, but would still need round the clock care.

Do people with Alzheimer’s need 24-hour Memory Care?

Yes. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease which causes gradual loss of memory and can cause difficulty walking, talking, as well as personality changes later on. As cognition declines, people with Alzheimer’s need more assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as drinking enough water, eating regularly, and not getting lost.

What’s the difference between Memory Care and Assisted Living?

Memory care and assisted living have similarities like scheduled activities, great dining, and dedicated team members, but their main difference is in their level of care. Assisted living gives residents personalized support where they need it such as medication management or meal assistance, but with the aim of enhancing independence.

Memory care residents need more hands-on support and specialized activities to enhance cognitive performance. For example, an assisted living resident may need help getting dressed in the morning, but can take a bus to the mall, eat by themself in the dining room, and play card games with friends. A Memory care resident needs more focused care to make sure they are eating regularly, staying engaged, and socializing. Many communities offer continuity of care—letting residents in assisted living move into memory care if their needs require it. This allows families to easily have their loved one stay in a familiar space.

What’s the difference between memory care and a nursing home?

Memory care and nursing homes are both long-term care options for older adults with memory issues that provide 24-hour care, supervised support, meals, and housing. They also are staffed by skilled team members who help with bathing, dressing, and medication management.  It’s important, however, to know there are some key differences between the two. Memory care is specialized for older adults with memory loss. Residents live in a safe environment that creates familiarity and reduces anxiety and stress. A nursing home is focused more on a patient that needs a high level of medical care. Usually these seniors can’t care for themselves, are bedridden, need a wheelchair, or require nursing care.

Is Memory Care right for my parent or loved one? 8 signs it’s time for Memory Care

Everyone can forget where they put their keys, but when forgetfulness turns into difficulty doing regular everyday tasks, it might be a sign of dementia.  Dementia is a scary word that many adult children fear. It can feel like a loved one can no longer live a fulfilling life or that they will lose control of what they do. While a dementia diagnosis can create mixed emotions, it’s important to know that it doesn’t mean your loved one can’t lead a fulfilling life.

The signs can be hard to see—maybe your parents are having more difficulty with regular tasks or they can’t recall memories as well. Here’s a list of some early signs of a memory-related condition:

  • Difficulty finding words
  • Trouble writing
  • Forgetting important appointments
  • Quick to anger
  • Becoming tearful easily
  • Misplacing items in strange locations
  • Inability to remember names
  • Withdrawing from social circles

Memory doesn’t just keep your loved ones safe, but situates them in an environment where they can thrive, socialize, and feel connected.

Memory Care vs. home care – which is better?

Once a loved one has been diagnosed with a memory condition it can be hard to adjust, for everyone. The challenges of dementia can feel big, but they’re not insurmountable.  Many adult children think of home care as a way to keep their parent in a familiar space, but home care comes with its own set of challenges like safety proofing the house, paying for caregivers to come into the house regularly or round the clock. Sometimes an adult child has to take on the burden of being a caregiver which can add more stress to an already difficult situation. Memory care offers the specialized care and attention your loved one needs in one package. Bathing, dressing, dining, and staying engaged are all included at memory care communities.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons of each:

Home care pros

  • Senior stays in their own house
  • Caregiver can be a son, daughter, or other relative

Home care cons

  • Can be expensive (safety proofing, professional caregiver costs)
  • Seniors can become isolated

Memory Care pros

  • Skilled team members handle 24/7 care
  • Enriching activities and therapies offered every day
  • Set schedules for dining, water breaks, and rest
  • Socialization with other residents with memory conditions in safe environment

Memory Care cons

  • A new setting
  • Can lead to caregiver guilt for adult children

Who is Memory Care best suited for?

Memory care is best suited for older adults with memory conditions, especially if they have been diagnosed. It’s best to know what stage your loved one is at with their condition. Forgetting where they put their phone is different from forgetting to attend important appointments or a change in personality. It’s best to talk to your loved one, their doctor, friends, and other relatives to see if they feel concerned. Memory care is beneficial to older adults in many stages of dementia. With the ability to decorate their apartments, socialize with other residents, and attend stimulating activities, memory care residents are able to continue living fulfilling lives.

What does Memory Care cost?

One of the many factors to take into consideration when looking at memory care is cost. But keeping a loved one at home can add up when you account for safety improvements and round the clock care. Memory care gives families everything in one place so they know their loved one is taken care of. The median cost of assisted living nationwide is $4,300 monthly, according to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. It rises to $4,800 a month in New York ($5,991 in New York City) and $6,633 in Alaska, but falls as low as $3,800 in North Carolina. Memory care services can increase this baseline assisted living expense by varying amounts, depending on the area.

Additionally memory care includes expenses that would be otherwise be separate: 
  • Electricity
  • Heat and cooling
  • Water
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Landscaping
  • home maintenance
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Activities
  • Professional caregivers

Talking about moving to Memory Care with a loved one

It’s never easy to broach the topic of moving to memory care. Fear and confusion can lead to aggression which can be made worse by memory conditions. It’s best to avoid phrases like “you have to move” and “you can’t live here.” Instead approach the topic with compassion and understanding. Keep an open mind with your loved one and share the benefits of memory care and how it can make their lives more enjoyable. Your loved one may ask why they have to leave or what it’s like at a memory care community. Remind them this is not a clinical setting—it’s a warm and welcoming one with other residents and activities. Here are some other tips for starting the conversation:

  • Set realistic goals: Unless this move must happen quickly, try to be reasonable about how fast it happens. Rushing through a relocation will increase anxiety for you and your loved one.
  • Establish a timeline: After you determine a realistic date for the move, sit down and create a timeline. If you are the primary family caregiver for your loved one, you may need to enlist friends and family to help or hire a professional move manager.
  • Plan ahead for the day of the move: The day of the move will no doubt be hectic. For an adult with dementia, it can increase agitation and anxiety. Make sure you create a moving day plan for your family member. It may involve them staying with a loved one while you are packing up for the move. Or you could have a friend supervise the movers while you go ahead to the community. The goal is to minimize your family member’s exposure to moving day chaos and stress.
  • Create a familiar environment: The transition will go more smoothly if you try to make the new apartment or suite look and feel like their old home. Ask for a copy of a floor plan ahead of time. That will help you figure out what furniture and belongings will fit. Make sure you bring family photos, familiar wall décor, bedding, and other belongings.

What support is included at a Memory Care facility for families and caregivers?

It’s not just residents who are supported at memory care—you are too! Many memory care communities offer respite care so caregivers and adult children can take a break.  One hesitation for family caregivers is that they fear feeling guilty. It’s important to remember to never feel guilty for moving a loved one on to memory care. Your loved one with a memory condition will be in a safe, warm, and mentally stimulating environment with other residents. They can meet new friends, have fun, and spend time outside with a team of skilled professionals.

Many memory care communities also offer caregiver support groups. These can be hosted at a community or online and can give caregivers a support system with others who may be going through similar situations.

Maintaining an active senior lifestyle in Memory Care

At memory care communities you can walk down the halls and see residents playing games, socializing together, pursuing hobbies, and relaxing with therapies.  Memory care residents don’t just stay inside all day either. Many communities have enclosed courtyards that offer an outside space so residents can chat about their lives for a morning gathering or take in the sun on a clear day.

How to find the right Memory Care community near you for your needs

There’s plenty of factors to consider when deciding which community to choose.  Make sure to tour the community so you know exactly what the space feels like and how team members interact with residents. Also, while it’s important, don’t get stuck on location. It’s important to decide if you want a family member close by, but the quality of care is what will keep your mind at peace and keep your loved one thriving.  When you tour a memory care community make sure to talk to team members, read through the activities calendar, and see how secure the buildings are.

Find a Memory Care Facility Near You

Five Star Senior Living offers small and intimate memory care neighborhoods where your loved one can find peace of mind and a renewed sense of purpose in a specialized environment that feels just like home sweet home.  Our award-winning Bridge to Rediscovery Alzheimer’s and dementia care program also provides personalized memory care based on your loved one’s specific abilities, preferences and passions. Find a memory care community near you to learn more about how a Five Star can help your loved one with dementia rediscover a meaningful life full of joy and purpose.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Common Mental Health Issue for Older Adults

Mental health in older adults – a common problem commonly left untreated

As we age, our lives are filled with life changing experiences that can affect our mental health, like being diagnosed with a serious illness or coping with the loss of a loved one. Some people learn to live with these changes. For others it can be challenging and create feelings of isolation and depression.

Mental health is especially important for older adults as they experience a lower rate of help for mental health conditions. According to the World Health Organization, over 20 percent of adults aged 60 and over suffer from mental health issues—most commonly depression, dementia, and anxiety.

Mental health in older adults is often under-identified by both older adults and their health care providers. The stigma of mental health conditions can also make people reluctant to seek help when they need it.

It’s vital to close this gap in mental health care for older adults and to raise awareness. Here are several ways to recognize what affects mental health in older adults, common symptoms and issues, and how to get help when you need it.

Common life changes that affect senior mental health

Seniors can experience common mental health issues like depression and anxiety, but are also more likely to experience mental health issues more common later in life like declining cognitive abilities. Here is a list of common life changes that seniors experience and can affect their mental health.


Losing a family member or friend is one of the most difficult events someone can go through. As people age, they are more likely to experience the loss of a loved one. Everyone grieves differently. They may cry, be angry, isolate themselves or feel empty and drained.

Serious illness or injury

Whether it’s an illness or an injury, a serious diagnosis can put an older adult’s mental health at serious risk. Older people are more likely to receive such a diagnosis as they age like reduced mobility, chronic pain, and terminal illness. A person’s mental health has a direct impact on their physical health.

Financial changes

When someone retires they may experience a drop in their regular financial status and this can create stress in a person’s life. Seniors often have to live on a tighter budget and their daily lives might be disrupted. These major changes can cause a lot of complicated emotions which can lead to mental health issues.

Moving to a new home

After years of filling a home with memories and warmth it can be hard to leave. Stressors of leaving due to financial issues, retirement, or because of physical needs can all add up to affect an older adult’s mental health.

Elder abuse

Seniors can experience abuse through a person’s deliberate acts or negligence. This can take many forms such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Abuse can have an immediate and detrimental effect on a senior’s mental health and wellbeing.

The most common senior mental health issues and their symptoms


One of the most common mental health issues in seniors, depression is a persistently miserable mood or loss of interest in activities that once brought joy. Symptoms are wide-ranging, but can include apathy, difficulty getting out of bed, trouble sleeping, social isolation, and hopelessness. If left untreated, depression can lead to a poor diet and thoughts of suicide.


Commonly misattributed as a disease, dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, and make decisions to the point where it interferes with an older adult’s ability to do everyday activities. Symptoms of dementia include cognitive and mental decline, confusion, personality changes, memory loss, and jumbled speech. People experiencing dementia are often unable to live alone as they can not before activities of daily living.


A common reaction to increased stress, anxiety is the feeling of fear, dread, or apprehension. It is often a normal emotion when faced with a major decision, test, or event, but can be an indicator of an underlying disease if feelings are all-consuming and interfere with daily living.

Bipolar disorder

Believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and brain structure, bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder can cause manic episodes of high energy that last days followed by depressive episodes of low energy and low motivation. Episodes can also be associated with suicidal thoughts.

Why mental illness in older adults goes untreated

Mental illness in older adults can go untreated for a number of reasons. People with mental health issues often don’t seek treatment due to stigma and fears of being treated differently leading to shame. Another reason older adults can go untreated for mental health illnesses is the misconception that depression and anxiety are regular signs of aging, when, in fact, they are just as serious for older adults. Ageism in healthcare can also lead to over-treatment and under-treatment of seniors.

How to get help for senior mental health issues

The mental health of older adults can be improved by promoting active and healthy lifestyles. At Five Star Senior Living communities offer residents a chance to meet other seniors, participate in enriching programs, and reimagine aging. Plus, with our fitness and rehabilitation partner, Ageility, physical wellness can help support emotional wellbeing.

Five Star team members are always there to support your needs, both big and small. We offer the highest level of service so there’s always an activity to enjoy or an event to attend for a chance to find love and connection, discover a community near you today.

Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Passion-Led Work: Finding Purpose in Memory Care

Nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is projected to rise to 13 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can help improve the quality of life for those with it and for those who may be undiagnosed. Read on to learn more about this disease, how memory care can help older adults with Alzheimer’s find joy and fulfillment, and to hear directly from some of the extraordinary leaders at Five Star Senior Living and Ageility who are working in our communities to relate, motivate, and appreciate memory care residents.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die resulting in memory loss, confusion, and cognitive decline.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a disease itself, but is an umbrella term for a group of thinking and social symptoms that interfere with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as using the phone, shopping, cooking, and taking medication. Symptoms can include memory loss, changes in mood and personality, poor judgment, and difficulty completing familiar tasks. Recognizing signs early on can help make a major difference in a person’s quality of life as the disease progresses.

It’s not known what exactly causes Alzheimer’s. However, experts believe it’s not one single cause, but rather a group of several factors that can affect people differently such as age, family history, diet, and alcohol consumption.

Memory Care

Even though Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, there’s a misconception that a person with the disease will have an unfulfilling life. At memory care communities, a person living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can live in a safe and warm environment with skilled team members and engaging activities to promote their wellbeing. Learn more about what memory care is.

At Five Star Senior Living, a division of AlerisLife, our approach includes all of this and much more. We’re reimagining Alzheimer’s care with Bridge to Rediscovery (BTR), a Montessori-based approach to memory care that designs a lifestyle focused on each resident’s strengths and abilities.

Memory Care Leaders at AlerisLife

BTR director at the Palms of Fort Myers Heidi Hartsock has dedicated her career to enhancing the quality of life for people with dementia.

“Having quality programming has the potential to slow down the progression of dementia and it helps to keep people with their skills and abilities as long as possible,” she said. “I love being the person that brings joy to everybody.

Physical therapist and clinical specialist manager for Ageility Nicole Lavoie is using her skills to keep people moving.

“My big goal is to allow people to function at their best ability throughout the entire spectrum of the disease and the disease process,” she said. “We have a role in all of our disciples to achieve that so I’m on a mission to make that happen.”

Physical exercise for those with dementia is an exciting field of study for Nicole. Experts have studied how when people exercise their cognition improves. The thought was that when people exercised, their brains were stimulated by reading instructions of following an exercise program. Research now shows that physical exercise can slow the decline of memory, executive function, and all cognitive abilities.

“Physical exercise influences the hippocampus in the brain where memories are created and stored. Moving your body directly impacts your brain,” Nicole said, adding that exercising during middle age is especially important for your brain health later on in life.

Maria Lora, BTR director at The Forum at Tucson, began her career following a personal experience taking care of a loved one.

“It’s very heartwarming to be in somebody’s life and be there for them to help to assist. Some of them don’t have families so I like to be that person they can count on and hug,” she said. “Giving them love or a hug on a daily basis is very important for them.”

Caregiving has its challenges. It can be especially hard for caregivers if they are adult children taking care of a loved one. Caregiver fatigue, a mental or physical state of exhaustion, is very real.

Heidi says that caregivers should make sure they take care of themselves. Alzheimer’s is one of the hardest diseases to care for—it becomes worse as time goes on and each day poses new challenges.

“Be patient with yourself and be patient with your loved one,” she said. “It’s hard, but you’re not alone. Asking for help is important. It’s not selfish—you need to take care of yourself to take care of your loved one.”

Caregivers have lots of options available to them for support like the National Center on Caregiving, National Institute on Aging, and more.
There are ups and downs when you’re a caregiver. Alzheimer’s symptoms include behavioral changes which can be challenging for caregivers to handle, especially when that caregiver is a family member.

“Caregiver burnout is so real. It’s really hard to take care of somebody and understanding the disease can help,” Nicole said. “One thing you can do is breathe. Three deep breaths is all it takes for you and the person with the cognitive loss. It dramatically reduces whatever is their feeling at the moment.”

Deciding to move a loved one on to memory care is no easy decision. Many factors can play a role, but it’s important to remember to do what’s best for your loved one, which can sometimes mean letting someone else take care of them.

While there are nearly six million Americans living with the disease, it’s important to remember that dementia is not a normal part of aging.

“A lot of people think it might be normal, but it’s not,” Heidi said. “Forgetfulness is normal, but the confusion and everything that comes along with dementia is not normal.”

Our Mission

The decision to move a loved one to a memory care community is not an easy one, but we’re here to help and welcome your loved one as part of our family. Our skilled team members make it their mission to offer the best and most innovative approach to care.

Five Star Senior Living offers small and intimate memory care neighborhoods where your loved one can discover engaging activities and a renewed sense of purpose in a personalized environment that feels just like home sweet home.

We can help you find the right retirement community for your loved one to thrive at this new stage of life.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care

It can seem like just another one of those “senior moments” at first. Maybe your dad is starting to have more difficulty with familiar tasks at his assisted living community. A team member calls to tell you he hasn’t been participating in activities due to losing track of time and his way around the community. One of the harder to accept explanations is that your dad may be showing signs of dementia, leaving you and your family with a difficult choice: should he move from assisted living to memory care?

Dementia is a scary word that many associate with a loss of control and the ability to live a fulfilling life. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle to recognize their grandchildren or recall that beloved family vacation. A dementia diagnosis, though, doesn’t mean your loved one still can’t find joy and purpose in life. It may just be a sign that it’s time to move them into a community with specialized care and a team that understands how to meet their growing needs with compassion and understanding. This is where memory care comes in.

What is Memory Care?

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect people differently. Over time, it can progress from new problems with words when speaking or writing to issues that affect your loved ones’ safety and quality of life. That’s why the team in a memory care community is made up of memory care specialists trained to help each memory care resident enjoy a life filled with dignity, purpose and moments of engagement.

Memory care isn’t just for helping residents be safe, it is for creating moments of joy by building on each resident’s personal narrative to help them feel successful and connected. Making your loved one feel at home—and offering plenty of opportunities for fun and belonging—are at the heart of a dedicated memory care community. Five Star Senior Living’s award-winning, innovative Bridge to Rediscovery program provides those moments of joy and stimulation, and so much more. Whatever your loved one’s passions and abilities, Bridge to Rediscovery tailors their surroundings and activities around them. Meeting all the resident’s needs is the mission, from basic tasks to helping them find a sense of purpose and connection.

How is Memory Care Different from an Assisted Living Community?

Assisted living and memory care communities offer some similar services, help with the activities of daily living, dining, programs and more. Memory care communities are designed to provide specialized care for residents with dementia. Memory care team members have additional training and experience caring for seniors with dementia who can sometimes express challenging behaviors.

At Five Star, we use the phrase relate, motivate and appreciate. Memory care should relate to each resident’s life experiences so they feel connected to the world around them. We motivate people by focusing on what they enjoy, and we appreciate by inviting participation and giving choices. Programs that include the five domains of wellness: cognitive, sensory, group, motor and purpose help individuals with dementia flourish. A variety of therapies such as music therapy, aroma therapy, art therapy, pet therapy and horticultural therapy are quite helpful to encourage those with memory conditions to engage in the world around them. The activities of daily living (ADLs) offered in assisted living—like bathing and grooming—are still available, but memory care goes the extra step to give your loved one the specialized attention they need to continue to live a healthy and enjoyable life in a safe, secured environment.

4 Ways to Know It’s Time to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care

It’s not uncommon for people to be more forgetful as they age. That’s what makes dementia so difficult to spot. It can seem harmless at first—a slight disorientation to time and place or stumbling on certain words—before escalating. Those signs of dementia could mean it’s time to make the move to memory care. Here are four key things to watch out for that could signal that it’s time to transition.

  1. Regular Confusion: We all forget to do the dishes or take out the trash every now and then. If your loved one is frequently losing track of time, having trouble expressing themselves or wandering, memory care will be the best choice.
  2. Less Active in the Community: Was your dad once a pool shark in the billiards club, but hasn’t shown up in a while? Maybe he stops by the activity room every now and then but seems distant and disinterested in whatever is going on. Dementia might be making these activities more challenging, and they would benefit from gentler, more cognitively stimulating activities.
  3. Requiring More Help: Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with the daily activities and are they exhibiting a decline in their cognitive abilities and decision-making skills? For example, a parent who has always done a good job managing finances and now their bills are overdue.
  4. Wandering: Becoming lost or exit seeking behaviors can occur at all stages of dementia and there are a variety of causes. Wandering is a sign that your loved one requires a safe and controlled environment.

Your loved one deserves to live an engaging, purposeful life in a setting that is custom tailored to their strengths and abilities. And you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your loved one lives where they are safe, and have a sense of purpose and belonging. A dementia diagnosis is difficult to grapple with, but you and your loved one don’t have to face it alone. Moving them into a memory care community can help them receive the specialized care they need to live a meaningful life full of joy and laughter.

If you think your loved one is showing signs of dementia and it might be time to move them from assisted living into memory care, find a memory care community near you and meet with the team there to discuss your questions.

Neurologists: Do Seniors with Alzheimer’s Need One?

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia stemming from Alzheimer’s, understanding your options can be an emotional and difficult process. Though there is no cure, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and help your loved one maintain their quality of life. While most experts agree that anyone with any form of dementia should see a specialist, there are several types to choose from. That can make it difficult to know what course of action to take.

One effective option is to visit neurologists specializing in dementia near you who can offer guidance. They can conduct a thorough neurological exam and recommend subsequent Alzheimer’s treatment. Combining a neurologist’s evaluation with the findings of other types of Alzheimer’s doctors near you—psychiatrists, psychologists and geriatricians—can help make the path to finding the best treatment for your loved one even clearer.

November is National Alzheimer’s Month. In recognition of the importance of the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, here’s what you need to know about the benefits of seeking a neurologist for your loved one with dementia.

Do seniors with Alzheimer’s need to see a neurologist?

The short answer to this question is “maybe”. Here are three important things to consider to help you make the best decision for your loved one.

#1: Your best choice may not be your family doctor

Although a preliminary diagnosis may begin with your primary care doctor, they’ll most likely refer you to a specialist. Some people express a preference to continue seeing their family doctor because it’s someone they know and trust. Others may feel disheartened by their diagnosis and question the use of seeing a specialist.

That’s an understandable concern, but misinformed. New research is published every month about findings in Alzheimer’s treatment. Although scientists haven’t yet found a cure, they have uncovered much that is helpful for people who have been diagnosed.

Dementia is a rapidly developing area of study, and it’s likely that the family doctor won’t be as up to date with the latest information. This may be especially true in the case of early onset Alzheimer’s, where symptoms and treatment are less well-known among most regular doctors.

Seeing a specialist will ensure your loved one benefits from the most recent therapies and medications.

#2: Not all dementia specialists are trained in neurology

A specialist may know more than the family doctor about the latest research in Alzheimer’s, but there are still several types to choose from. The family doctor may refer you to any of the following, based on your loved one’s unique set of circumstances:

  • Psychologist
  • Geriatrician
  • Geriatric psychiatrist
  • General neurologist
  • Behavioral neurologist

Note that not all the above are trained in neurology.

Psychologists and geriatricians are not required to earn certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Psychiatrists and neurologists must earn this certification by demonstrating a thorough knowledge of neurology, among other topics.

That’s why any of these professionals may offer help but only the last two—the neurologists—will have a high level of expertise about the inner workings of the brain.

Neurologists are trained to detect subtleties of the brain that cause memory problems. Only they can conduct a thorough neurological exam and recommend subsequent treatment for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

#3: Much of the promising research is in neurology

Since this disease is a brain disorder, it stands to reason that some of the most promising research findings come from the field of neurology. For example, in a recent study, neuroscientists found that a certain type of light therapy reversed the advance of Alzheimer’s in mice.

Only a neurologist is likely to know about research projects like this and how they might impact your loved one’s health. If you have questions about current research, a neurologist may be the best person to answer them.

Staying Informed with Five Star Senior Living

Here at Five Star Senior Living, we’re constantly working to stay current with scientific developments in Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment. Our memory care program is designed around sound principles of science, much of which involves the work of neurologists.

One example is our Bridge to Rediscovery Program, a type of Montessori-based dementia program offered exclusively at Five Star Senior Living communities. This program is designed to provide a safe, nurturing environment that offers seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease a place to flourish.

If you’d like to know more about our Bridge to Rediscovery program contact us. Or to see one of our memory care neighborhoods, find a community near you and schedule a tour.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How Much Does Memory Care Cost?

Watching an aging loved one change before your eyes from dementia stemming from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be heartbreaking. Wrestling with the question of how to give them the best care makes matters even more difficult. Should they stay at home or move into a memory care community? An online search pulls up a sea of information, but wading through it to find the real costs, and benefits, of memory care is a time-consuming task. We’re here to make it easier. Here’s what you need to know about the costs of memory care so you can make the best decision for your loved one.

A Closer Look at Memory Care Costs

Finding a memory care senior living community can make a world of difference in quality of life for those living with memory issues and brings tremendous peace of mind to their families and caregivers. With specialized supervision, on-demand medical care and enriching activities, memory care requires some financial planning as it is often paid out of pocket. This can feel overwhelming to families, especially if they don’t have long-term care insurance.

Like assisted living, Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans generally don’t cover memory care room and board, which drives costs up significantly. Barring things like veterans’ benefits and the possibility of Medicaid covering some costs of long-term care once assets are completely depleted, memory care costs can add up quickly.

The median cost of assisted living nationwide is $4,300 monthly, according to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. It rises to $4,800 a month in New York ($5,991 in New York City) and $6,633 in Alaska, but falls as low as $3,800 in North Carolina. Memory care services can increase this baseline assisted living expense by varying amounts, depending on the area.

While these estimates for monthly memory care costs may seem high, at first glance, consider that in addition to specialized care, a memory care program encompasses living expenses that would normally be paid separately, including:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Heating and cooling
  • Home maintenance
  • Landscaping and snow removal costs
  • Well-balanced meals and healthy snacks
  • Entertainment and activities, such as adult education courses, a gym membership, and social events
  • Transportation services

Memory Care Costs in Comparison: Less Expensive than Aging in Place

When comparing the cost of memory care to hiring a home health aide to help an aging loved one with housekeeping and activities of daily living, memory care is the less costly option. Nationally, the median price of a home health aide is $5,824 per month for seven days a week, eight hours a day care. On average, that is $1,524 more than a memory care community. When increased to 24/7 home health aide coverage, this cost skyrockets to $17,472 per month.

Considering What’s Included in Memory Care Costs vs. Home Health Aide Services

When comparing memory care costs to hiring a home health aide, the savings goes far beyond the initial average price difference. While your loved one may not require 24/7 coverage, a senior living at home may still need care on evenings and weekends when you can’t be there. Depending on the aide’s duties, you might also need to pay someone else to drive them to doctor’s appointments and run errands while you are working. And don’t forget that these care costs are on top of your loved one’s regular housing and living expenses.

Since a home health aide typically doesn’t do handyman work or chores like mowing the lawn, they may also need to hire someone for home maintenance, landscaping and snow removal services. We can’t overlook the cost of home modifications. Creating senior-friendly bathrooms, adding better lighting and ramps are just a few of the costly expenses you may incur.

The Real Cost of Memory Care – Can You Afford Not to Take Advantage of the Benefits of a Memory Care Community?

As we add up all these costs, it’s much easier to put memory care costs into perspective and to see investing in memory care as a smart financial decision. In addition to seeing great value in memory care compared to aging in place, it can also be the best option for providing your aging loved one with opportunities for social enrichment, intellectual stimulation, and daily exercise that they may not get at home. In memory care, you can rest easy knowing your loved one is having all their needs met and can still find purpose, joy and connection despite their diagnosis. That’s because our team members know that memory care isn’t just for preserving memories, but also making new ones. We welcome your loved one to make them with us.

To learn more about memory care programs, contact a Five Star Senior Living community nearest you. One of our team members will be happy to help answer questions and take you on a tour.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Bible Study for Seniors with Dementia

Maybe it’s ironic—or maybe it’s fitting—but it’s kind of amazing how many memorable things can happen in a memory care community, where residents are experiencing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Dan Hass can testify to that. Dan, who served as executive director of Overlook Green Senior Living, a Five Star assisted living and memory care community in Pittsburgh, PA, saw it happen time and time again in a weekly Bible study group he ran for Overlook Green residents.

There was the one night he handed his Bible to a resident, an elderly gentleman. The man, who happened to be a former pastor, had advanced dementia, a condition that had left him unable to speak coherently. Prior to that night, no one had heard this kindly resident utter a single sentence.

The man opened the Good Book—and began to read. “The Lord is my shepherd,” he began, reciting the famous first passage of Psalm 23. “I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” The man continued, finishing with, “and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Then a second memorable thing occurred. The man closed the Bible, looked up and began to preach in his preacher’s voice. He spoke of the Old Testament and the New, righteousness and holiness, the strength of faith and the need for humility and to remember that, as the 23rd psalm teaches, we never have to feel alone if we believe.

“As soon as he opened the Bible, he became a pastor again,” recalls Dan, marveling at the memory. “We don’t know exactly what dementia does to the brain, but something about studying the Bible seems to light a spark. It’s always amazing to see how someone’s faith can be recalled even in the midst of memory loss. All of those moments are unforgettable to me.”

Helping Residents Connect Through Faith

Dan began the Bible study group about five years ago as a way to connect with residents outside of his usual role running the community—and as a way to practice his faith. “I came to know the Lord about 12 years ago,” says Dan, who grew up Catholic. “That Five Star supported my starting the group says a lot about the company and its commitment to finding ways to help residents feel connected and letting team members ply their own creativity.”

As many as 10 residents have met every week for most of the past five years. The group Dan started is an example of how Five Star team members go beyond their professional roles to get to know residents personally, the better to meet their needs. In Dan’s experience, Bible study seems especially well suited to connecting with people who have dementia. “They’ve gone from a lifetime of activity to limited activity because of their dementia,” he says. “But God can still reach them.”

He recalls another resident, a woman who rarely communicated but who suddenly announced one night to the group, “I pray every night for all our residents and Five Star team members.” Another woman, whose dementia was advanced, could recite Psalm 23 word for word from memory, Dan says. He notes that another woman, who was nonverbal and seldom ventured outside her apartment, would come to Bible study accompanied by her son. Dan points to that as an example of an extra benefit of the group: that of connecting with families. “It means a lot to families when they see that this gives their loved ones such a lift,” he says.

“This is just what I needed”

Despite any limitations resulting from their dementia, the memory care residents who attend the Bible study group are not shy about expressing what their participation means to them. “A typical comment I hear is, “This is just what I needed tonight!” Dan says. He can understand how his group members feel, he adds. “There are some nights where I’ve had a long day and I think, ‘Where will I find the energy to lead the group tonight?’” But he has always found the residents inspiring and his fatigue falling away. “It energizes me,” Dan says. “It is so rewarding.”

Discover New Connections

Are you or a loved one seeking a new community where the vibe is energizing? Find a Five Star Senior Living community near you. We’d be happy to give you a tour!

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

*Select an option:*
* All fields required.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.