What To Do When You Get An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Getting an official diagnosis that memory lapses are the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering. If you or your loved one still function “normally” in day-to-day life, it can be tempting to go into denial and pretend as if everything’s just fine until there are more obvious or alarming signs that compromise the quality of life.

The truth is, however, that fast-action is the key to creating both short- and long-term care plans. There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is considered a progressive disease. The rate at which it progresses varies for each person, but it can happen more rapidly than expected, and this places the person with Alzheimer’s, his/her spouse, and loved ones in a crisis state.

Taking Timely, Methodical Actions After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s resources in your area, the faster you’ll be able to establish a personalized plan of action.

The goal is to give the person with Alzheimer’s ability to make some decisions for him/herself whenever possible. This becomes challenging – and then impossible – as the condition progresses because transitions are detrimental if you wait too long.

Learn about the disease and current treatment options

Hopefully, your medical team, including the neurologist, have provided you with lots of information about Alzheimer’s, all together it’s progression, and the known medications, lifestyle changes and treatment options that support a patient’s wellbeing.

Other helpful resources for learning about Alzheimer’s include:

Don’t hesitate to call or email your primary physician to schedule a follow-up appointment, so you can ask questions and listen to the answers you may not have been able to take in during the immediate consultation after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Start the conversation regarding memory care options

Memory care will play a role at some point, and the quality of this care – and its ability to improve the quality of life for your loved one – is 100% related to how soon s/he transitions into the right community. This will probably require multiple conversations as you weigh the pros and cons of various options, and tour facilities and communities.

While the idea of staying home is preferred by many, caregiving for a middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s patient is a full-time job. 

Unfortunately, contrary to the original plan, many spouses or close family members realize too late that they aren’t capable of providing the level of care required, 24/7. That results in a very traumatic transition into memory care, assisted living or nursing home care – and it may mean having to give up your first-choice if they don’t have space when you finally make a decision.

Tour your options as soon as you can

It’s helpful for prospective residents to tour memory care options themselves so they have some autonomy in the decision. However, we understand that this can be scary and nerve-wracking for many – and that some simply refuse to do it all together.

If your loved one is resistant to touring options with you, we recommend inviting a close family member or friend to accompany and support you. You might find starting the process solo – bringing back information and ideas – will motivate your spouse or loved one to accompany you the next time.

Read,Questions to Ask When Touring Memory Care Facilities, so you get the information and details you need to make a good decision.

Start to plan for the financial side of things

Memory care is an expense – whether you’re hiring full-time caregivers in your home or you transition into a memory care center. Unless your financial plan already accommodated for extended, long-term care of some kind – you’ll need to start preparing your finances.

Read,Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for some helpful ideas and tips for funding high-quality memory care.

There are situations where Medicare and Medicaid can subsidize expenses, but they rarely pay for the entirety of the costs associated with memory care. After establishing memory care options in your area, their administration and staff will help you review the realm of financial and payment choices available to you.

Keep your loved one as engaged and active as possible

Studies show over and over again that early action in terms of diet, lifestyle habits, social engagement, and mental stimulation are all key to slowing down and decreasing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often, the shock or embarrassment of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, combined with the complications associated with fading memory and social situations, leads to social isolation. This is a worst-case scenario because mental and social stimulation keeps those neural pathways open and firing.

Try to find daily activities, outings, and social settings that inspire feelings of connections, safety, and security for your loved one. This could also include taking advantage of adult day care options at a prospective memory care center as part of the transition into becoming a resident.

Establish your support network

Being a spouse, partner, or primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is a challenging job. You are going to need a range of support to help along the way.

Ideas include:

  • Learning about Alzheimer’s resources and support in your community
  • Working with a therapist or counselor to help you cope with the range of emotions that come up along the journey
  • Joining an Alzheimer’s support group
  • Ensuring you have respite care available to provide regular, much-needed breaks
  • Eating well, exercising, and maintaining social networks to prevent caregiver burnout

It takes a village to care for both those with Alzheimer’s as well as their spouses, family members, and loved ones. Establishing your support network while you have the time and space to do so allows you to activate support options as needed down the road.

Handling A Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Remember: there is never a need to go it alone. 

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, enlist the support of family and friends to help you move forward – step-by-step.

Learn more about your loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and find support in these articles: 

What Is Dementia Care?

Female dementia care provider working on a puzzle with a senior client.Dementia care, also called memory care, is a unique senior care services niche. While it may encompass many of the same tenets of senior care—such as companion services, meal preparation, medication reminders, or transportation services—dementia care is specific to seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and progressive memory loss.

Dementia care providers are specifically educated and trained in slowing down the progression of dementia-related conditions, as well as helping clients and their families celebrate life and find purpose in each day. Their approach is rooted in research-driven information and recommendations. 

Memory Care Offers Personalized Support

While dementia care provides customized care for the clients, it also supports spouses and family members by providing peace of mind. When you know your loved one is being looked after by experienced and compassionate professionals, you can have the confidence to unwind, take some time away from your senior loved one, and engage in your own social activities.

Some of the most common memory care services go above and beyond standard senior care options because people with memory issues need extra support. Below is a list that shows how dementia care is especially unique, and why you might consider it for your loved one.

1. Full-spectrum safety and security

We can never predict the moment a loved one goes from early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia. But for most, safety issues like nighttime wandering, getting lost on routine walks, inability to remember the home address, sundowning, or escalating agitation are red flags that drive to the next stages of the care plan.

Experienced memory care providers know that the best dementia care plans are proactive rather than reactive, and thereby prevent the most common risks. This includes things like:

  • Removing trip hazards and fall risks and installing fall sensors
  • Clearly labeling rooms, cupboards, drawers, etc.
  • Decluttering to keep rooms simple and streamlined
  • Installing locks or deadbolts above eye level and keeping doors locked at all times to prevent wandering
  • Removing locks from interior doors so loved ones can’t lock themselves in
  • Implementing alarms to sound when exterior doors or windows are opened or closed
  • Keeping interior and exterior areas well-lit
  • Designing attractive and pleasant outdoor areas secured by locked fences and gates

Our expert memory care providers adhere to The Alzheimer’s Association guidelines, by creating “an indoor space that allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence” while offering “safe and secure outdoor areas.”

2. Diet plans focused on brain-healthy foods

Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging spend millions of dollars researching dementia prevention and treatments. In addition to genetic predispositions, research indicates a strong relationship between diet and other lifestyle habits with the onset and progression of age and dementia-related memory loss. 

Because diet is an essential foundation for brain health and memory, our providers create delicious and nutritious meal and snack plans that emphasize brain-healthy foods while eliminating those that increase inflammation and diminish brain health. We follow research-driven dementia diet guidelines that help keep our clients as physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy as possible.

3. Medication reminders

After a dementia diagnosis, most adults begin taking prescription medications such as Donepezil, Galantamine, or Rivastigmine. In many cases, these medications are an addition to existing ones.

Missing even a single medication dose, or taking more medication than prescribed, can significantly disrupt a person’s wellbeing. Therefore, medication management and reminders are essential. Memory care providers ensure that each dose is taken on time and in the proper quantity, to ensure your loved one is as healthy and clear-headed as possible.

4. Lifestyle changes supporting healthy sleep/wake patterns

Anyone caring for a loved one with dementia knows how a slight disruption in routine or sleep/wake cycles can lead to major shifts in mood and wellbeing. Called “circadian rhythm,” the natural sleep/wake cycle supports healthy hormone balance, detoxing, memory retention, energy levels, and metabolism, to name a few. Research has proven the link between disrupted circadian rhythm and memory loss progression. 

Lifestyle habits supporting healthy sleep/wake patterns include observing a nutritious diet, getting plenty of daily exercise and movement, ample access to activities that stimulate the brain, and varied social engagement/connections. Getting outside each day and ensuring that interior lighting respects the natural rhythm of sunrise and sunset also help support the brain’s sleep physiology. 

5. Personal care and housekeeping

As memory loss progresses, adults lose touch with daily routines. For example, they may struggle to get out of bed in the morning, forget to bathe, remain in the same clothes for days, or lose the ability to stay focused during routine chores.

Memory care providers facilitate these tasks to ensure clients are fresh, clean, and ready to greet each day. We help with physical hygiene including bathing, toileting or incontinence care, daily dressing, and maintaining tidy living spaces, which includes doing the laundry and providing fresh linens each week. 

Since these chores can become challenging for the spouse or family members, our ability to take over these tasks opens the way to get back to the joy of relating to your loved one in personal, rather than task-based, ways.

6. Regular introductions of caregivers and other personnel

In the beginning, adults with dementia remember the names of family, friends, and those who are prominent in their daily lives. As dementia progresses, names begin to disappear, which can make a person with dementia feel embarrassed, frustrated, or even scared. 

Since our professionals are trained in memory care, we honor the importance of calmly and warmly introducing ourselves to clients and residents every day, so that they feel competent, safe, and familiar with their caregiving team.

Expert Dementia Care Supports Spouses & Families

While dementia care supports the safety and well-being of those with dementia, we’re also here to support spouses and family members. Our services make sure primary caregivers have plenty of time to rest, rejuvenate, and engage in what brings them joy—which can go a long way toward preventing fatigue and burnout.  

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

Early Signs of Dementia

A woman identifies very early signs of dementia in her partner.

A dementia diagnosis is typically the end result of a progressive series of signs that started months or even years before the screening appointment. More often than not, early “red flags” were present, but family members assumed they were normal or were too afraid to address them head-on.

Because dementia is a progressive disease that intensifies over time, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

The sooner you know a loved one has dementia, the sooner you can make the necessary lifestyle changes to slow down its progression and begin making a long-term memory plan that includes your spouse or parent’s wishes.

“Normal” age-related memory loss vs. dementia

Age-related memory loss is normal and not the same as dementia. One of the most significant differences is that “normal” memory loss is fleeting, sporadic, and it doesn’t increase significantly over a short period of time. Non-dementia-related memory loss is also less likely to be associated with confusion, mood swings, or other unusual signs of agitation. To put this difference into context, while we all misplace our keys every once in a while, it’s exceedingly rare that we’d temporarily forget our way home from our neighborhood grocery store.  

Temporary or situational memory loss can also occur due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, depression, medication side effects, or undiagnosed medical conditions (like a UTI). This is why it’s so critical to be open and honest about any changes in memory or mental fog. A general physician is the first rung of support as you figure out the cause of memory changes.

Very early signs of dementia

The first and earliest signs of dementia are easy to miss because the majority of them read like “whoops, I forgot,” scenarios such as:

  • Misplacing keys
  • Forgetting a name or a word for something
  • Missing an appointment or a social date
  • Not remembering the exact day/date after days at home in a row
  • Forgetting an item or two on the grocery list
  • And so on

With dementia, these episodes occur with greater frequency and may co-exist with states of confusion or mental fogginess.

Other very early signs of dementia are:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Trouble finishing projects that used to be straightforward
  • Having to read a familiar receipt or set of instructions over and over to follow them through
  • Increased moodiness, angry outbursts, or irritation

You can see why these are easy to miss at first, but more frequent repetition of this type of forgetfulness warrants professional dementia screening by a physician or neurologist.

Signs of early dementia

Those very early signs cumulatively turn into more consistent and significant signs of dementia. Examples include:

  • Difficulty remembering recent events (At first, your loved one may cover these “senior moments” out of embarrassment. However, in quick time, they will no longer have the ability to hide their forgetfulness from spouses and close friends/loved ones)
  • Trouble performing daily tasks
  • Inability to track days, dates, times with any consistency
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly OR telling the same stories often, in a short period
  • Apathy, withdrawal from social life or favorite activities, and/or depression
  • Unusual angry or frustrated outbursts
  • Difficulty with problem-solving or working through typical challenges
  • Trouble finishing crosswords, word searches, or puzzles
  • Not remembering where they are or how they got there
  • Wandering and getting lost in familiar shopping centers or their neighborhood
  • Struggling to read, make good spatial decisions (which affects driving and walking), or judging distance
  • Trouble following or participating in a conversation (they may lose their train of thought and begin rambling or repeating the same things over and over)
  • Losing words without being able to recall them in a reasonable amount of time

It is far better to learn that you were overly concerned about normal, age-related memory loss than to find out a loved one has had dementia for months or longer without access to necessary early treatment and support.

Research shows that certain medications, as well as a dementia-supportive diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, slow down dementia’s progression, allowing those with dementia to live more independently for longer. That said, a care plan must be put in place to ensure the person with dementia and their caregiver(s) have the support required to enjoy a high-quality of life.

Mid-stage dementia

By the mid-stage of dementia, there is no denying something is wrong. People with mid-stage dementia can’t be left home alone without spouses or family members worrying about them wandering off, forgetting to eat, or leaving the stovetop burning unattended. If someone with dementia insists on driving, family members worry they’ll get in a fender bender or have trouble finding their way back home.

The middle-stage of memory loss is evidenced by:

  • Continued behavioral and personality changes
  • Increased agitation in the later afternoon/evening (often referred to as Sundowning)
  • Inability to read or follow instructions
  • Not remembering words, faces, names, or yesterday’s activities
  • No longer being able to play favorite games or to follow along with television or movie plots
  • Not remembering to take medication
  • Inability to manage money, do basic math, or figure out the correct change or tip when at a store or restaurant
  • Insomnia or noticeable sleep changes

If you are the spouse or family caregiver for something with mid-stage dementia, you can no longer go it alone. Individuals with mid-stage dementia require 24/7 care and monitoring, which is impossible for one person to handle on their own. Doing so leads to caregiver fatigue and burnout.

Get Support In the Early Stages

Those early signs of dementia are a call-to-arms. Once you have a diagnosis, it’s time to activate a well-rounded care plan that ensures both the person with dementia – and family caregivers – have the support they need to optimize quality of life. This includes caregivers getting much-deserved time off via respite care, adult daycare, or residential memory care services to prevent burnout.

If you or a loved on is at risk of suffering from caregiver burnout, read our helpful resource below.

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

Age-Related Memory Loss vs. Dementia

An adult daughter, confident she knows how to recognize age-related memory loss vs. dementia, sits with her older mother on a bed.

Not all memory loss is created equal. There is a distinct physiological difference between age-related memory loss and dementia. Knowing the difference can help you remain calm when normal forgetfulness makes you fear the worst.

That said, ignoring clear signs of dementia means your loved one isn’t getting the help and support they need to slow down the disease’s progression and begin creating a long-term care plan.

Keep reading to learn more about recognizing the differences between age-related memory loss vs. dementia and what to do about it.

Memory Loss: Age-Related or Dementia?

All of us have moments where our mental faculties are not at their best. We forget an appointment, can’t recall a name, or absent-mindedly miss a turn on a familiar route. And, as we age, these scenarios are more common. 

However, with Alzheimer’s, these forgetful or foggy moments are not recoverable, happen more frequently, and can negatively impact our mood, behavior, and personal safety. 

If you are worried about memory loss, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your general physician. While there is no single test to diagnose dementia or Alzheimer’s, physicians use health screenings, questionnaires, brain scans, and other tools to determine the cause of changes in thinking, movement, or behavior.

In the meantime, here is a chart you can use to determine the difference between normal, age-related memory loss or “senior moments” vs. signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. We’ve divided the chart into the main memory functions:

  • Short-term memory or learning something new
  • Organizing, problem-solving, and making decisions
  • Recalling words/language
  • Geographic orientation and navigation
  • Visual perception (distance, depth perception, etc.)
  • Mood or behavior


Memory Function/Ability Normal Aging Dementia
Short-term memory/learning something new May occasionally forget an appointment, name, or a specific date but recover it later.

Forget something you were told, and memory may or may not be jogged when reminded.

Can misplace keys, glasses, remote, etc., but can usually retrace steps and find it–or come across it later and think, “Oh, that’s right…I remember putting it there when….”

Cannot keep track of appointments and often forget the names of close friends or family members, even if with them that day. 

Repeatedly asking the same question, often with only minutes or less than an hour between questions. 

Misplaced items are frequently found in strange locations, such as a remote control in the bathroom medicine cabinet and reading glasses in the pantry or fridge. 

Organizing/problem-solving/decision-making It can take a little longer to organize things or think things through, but the process still has a clear start, middle, and logical finish.

It’s more difficult to multitask, but tasks can be completed one at a time.

Occasionally make a poor decision.

Make occasional math mistakes with finances but they can be easily traced and corrected.

Planning and organizing lead to confusion and do not often result in a final answer or finished product.

Difficulty remaining focused or concentrated on a single task.

Increased bad or irresponsible decisions, especially around finances.

No longer able to keep track of and pay monthly bills on time–or at all.

Language recall Sometimes cannot find the right word, or it takes longer to rise to the surface, but usually find it or it comes later.

It can take more concentration to follow conversations, especially with a fast talker or with more than one person speaking at the same time.

Easily lose a conversation thread if distracted or multiple people speak at once.

Frequently can’t find the right word and begin speaking about “that person,” or “that thing,” without memory recall happening at all.

Struggle to maintain a conversation or to follow and join an existing conversation.

Consistently lose the thread of what someone is saying.

Geographic/time orientation and navigation May sometimes forget the day of the week or date (especially after retirement) but can figure it out and can use tools to find it.

Occasionally walk into a room and forget why you’re there or what you wanted.

Can’t keep days and dates straight anymore, even with reminders.

Often wander around the house without remembering purpose or intent.

Getting lost on routine walking routes or while running errands in familiar places. 

Get confused about times of day or seasons, no rhythm around the passage of time.

Visual perception (distance, depth perception, etc.) Any vision- or perception-related changes are related to cataracts or vision problems diagnosable by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Spatial intelligence falters without any changes in physical vision. More prone to tripping, misjudging distance, and misinterpreting reflections or patterns.
Mood or behavior Can feel a bit low or anxious, but it ebbs and flows.

May feel uneasy about attending social engagements or large gatherings.

Become set in behavior ways and can be irritated when there’s a change or disruption in “the routine.”

More complete withdrawal and lack of interest in social gatherings and events.

Can become increasingly anxious, afraid, or depressed/angry and may also show a decline in self-confidence.

Becomes usually irritated at home, with friends/family, or in normally comfortable situations. This may increase around sunset or in the evening (sometimes referred to as Sundowner’s Syndrome).


If you notice increases in the “normal age-related memory loss column,” it is still worth scheduling an appointment with a general physician to check-in. A simple screening can help determine whether further analysis is required.

If you do move forward with a comprehensive assessment and receive a dementia diagnosis, it’s time to begin planning the next steps forward. 

Age-Related Memory Loss vs. Dementia: We Are Here to Help

While an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is devastating, research shows most adults with dementia live for another 20 years on average. There is still plenty of time for your loved one to enjoy a high quality of life by enlisting the support of memory care experts.

The Memory Center can help with all aspects of care planning, such as remaining in touch with the latest news regarding medications, diet, and lifestyle changes that slow down the progression of dementia, information on caregiver support, and how to cover the costs of long-term dementia care.

Paying for long-term dementia care can be a particular challenge. Click below to learn how to address finances when providing for a loved one.

How to Pay for Dementia Care

How to Pay for Dementia Care

a woman talks at home with her parents about paying for dementia care

Every long-term care plan should consider how to pay for dementia care. The Alzheimer’s Association cites that one-in-nine people over the age of 65 live with dementia, and that figure increases to two-in-ten by ages 71-79. So, planning to pay for memory care is a wise move, and there are plenty of creative ways to go about it.

There are several things that support dementia care planning:

  • Have a long-term care plan in place before you need it or as soon as you find out you have a progressive/terminal prognosis
  • Early diagnosis
  • Meet with a financial advisor before retirement to create a multifaceted plan that accommodates several different scenarios

7 Tips to Paying for Dementia Care

There isn’t “one way” to pay for dementia care. If savings or retirement accounts don’t cover the total expenses, there are other ways to finance the costs.

1. Home care that graduates to residential memory care

The research shows that early transition into full-time memory care is better than later admissions when it comes to mitigating stress and improving the quality of life for the resident. 

However, many individuals and clients choose to remain at home using in-home care providers to assist with general support and then make a plan to transition into residential memory care when a certain set of criteria are met (typically related to the progression from early dementia to mid-stage dementia symptoms).

This plan helps to buffer the coffers since home care is more affordable than residential care. Full-time in-home care from a licensed agency costs an average of about $4000 per month, while residential options cost between $4500 to $9000 per month – depending on the community. Saving at the front end using home care options can help you save for the residential care required down the road.

2. Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare three months before turning 65 is one of the most important steps you can take to cover care costs during your senior years. While Medicare doesn’t pay for things like room and board at a memory care center, it does typically pay for:

  • Medical-related expenses
  • Physician/specialist visits
  • Prescription
  • Necessary durable medical equipment
  • Hospice care

Implementing Medicare benefits helps to draw down the total monthly costs associated with dementia care. The modest, additional costs for Medicare Plan C and D can alleviate other costs associated with paying for dementia care.

3. Long-term care insurance

Some people don’t realize they ever enrolled in a long-term insurance plan because it came directly from a previous employer and is debited from pension funds or because their spouse/significant others handled “the business sides of things.” 

Comb through all of the financial documents, files, and retirement statements to see if there is an existing long-term care insurance plan you didn’t know about. If so, you may find that thousands of dollars per month are already accounted for.

The sooner you apply for long-term care, the more affordable it is. So, if you’ve arrived at this post while researching long-term care and dementia care options, this is a good time to contact an insurance representative to learn more about whether long-term care is a good option for you.

4. Veterans Administration (VA) benefits

Did you or your significant other serve in the U.S. military? VA benefits are available for a range of services supporting dementia care, including:

  • Home-based health and care support
  • Home caregivers or health aids
  • Respite care (to give a primary spouse or family caregivers regular breaks from the rigors of caregiving)
  • Adult daycare (just like its child-centric counterpart, most communities or memory care centers offer adult day care for seniors with dementia so spouses/caregivers can go to their day jobs or attend important activities, outings, and social activities)
  • Nursing homes or acute care facilities
  • Palliative and hospice care

Visit the VA’s page on Dementia Care to learn more about their services and contact specialists who can answer your questions.

5. Employee and retirement benefits

If the dementia diagnosis is given when you or your loved one are still working, schedule a meeting with the human resources (HR) or benefits department. The company and its employee benefits may offer support you aren’t aware of. This could include things like:

  • Better health insurance options
  • Paid sick leave
  • Short-term or long-term disability benefits

Most retirement plans offer penalty-free withdrawals for individuals younger than 59 and a half under qualifying circumstances. An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is one of those qualifiers and may allow you to draw early (or more than usual) from the plan, sans penalties, if the total of your dementia care costs exceeds a certain percentage of your gross earnings. Meeting with HR or benefits representatives is essential to learn more about your options.

6. Liquidating properties and assets

Again, meeting with a financial advisor is the best way to understand where you are and your best plan forward. For some couples, this is a time to sell a piece of property or liquidate certain assets or valuables. 

For example, if moving a spouse into memory care means you plan to downsize, this might be a time to sell the house and roll part of the proceeds into the memory care fund.

7. Reverse mortgage options

If your home is paid off or almost paid off, you may qualify for a reverse mortgage. Many banks are willing to lend substantial sums of money using the house as collateral because of its real estate value. 

Reverse mortgages operate similarly to refinancing. They are available to qualifying homeowners 65 years or older to borrow against the home’s equity without risking their title or selling the home.

8. Personal loans or family contributions

Once you’ve processed the initial shock and adjustment period after an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, we recommend scheduling a family meeting. The need for dementia care is a matter of “when” rather than “if,” so everyone should have a voice in the plan. 

Some families divide care costs and make monthly payments to support their loved one’s care, while others take out a loan to front the costs and then share the monthly loan payment expenses.

Start Visiting Memory Care Centers to Learn More

Visiting different memory care communities is a smart way to learn about all the different ways their clients and families go about paying for dementia care. Make that one of your questions as you learn more about their communities and care costs. Our administrators have a wealth of information regarding funding and payment options.

Learn More About Our Communities

The Latest Alzheimer’s Facts, Figures & Stats [2020]

Medicine’s understanding of Alzheimer’s, and its effects on the human brain, is still in the pioneering phases. While we learn more all the time about how genetics, life events, and lifestyle components are involved in catalyzing the initial signs and progression of Alzheimer’s, the cure remains elusive.

With respect to the ever-emerging science pertaining to the causes, treatments, and potential for Alzheimer’s disease, we update our Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet regularly to reflect the current research.

Accurate Facts, Figures, & Stats Improve Alzheimer’s Quality of Life

The more you remain up to date on the current research and studies’ findings, including Alzheimer’s facts, figures, and stats, the better you can improve the quality of life for yourself and the ones you love.

First, we’ll begin with some basic, bullet-point facts about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), followed by more detailed information to support the care and support provided for those with AD. The following facts are derived from two helpful AD resources: The NIH’s page on Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Alzinfo.org.

Visit our Resource Guide for Alzheimer’s Care & Support for more helpful AD websites.

  • AD is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States
  • Most people with late-onset AD exhibit signs and symptoms as early as their 60s, even if the diagnosis doesn’t happen until much later (more on that below).
  • Experts believe that AD-related changes in the brain may actually start as much as ten years before the beginning symptoms are detectable.
  • Early-onset AD comprises about 10% of the Alzheimer’s population and is typically noticed/diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
  • Someone is diagnosed with AD about every 65 seconds.
  • Doctors predict as many as 14 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050.
  • One-third of all seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia-related condition
  • It costs about 350K per person to support the long-term health and wellbeing of an AD patient (read, Is Medicare/Medicaid an Option… for information about financing the care you need).
  • There are multiple forms of AD and dementia – early-onset, late-onset, Lewy Body, Parkinson’s-related, etc. Care and treatment plans may vary depending on the type.
  • Alzheimer’s genes (and other biomarkers) are identified, but they are not the sole cause of AD, nor does the presence of the genes mean an individual will get AD. 
  • There is no specific treatment for AD or dementia, although some drug treatment protocols slow its progression.
  • Certain lifestyle changes have been shown to slow down the progression of AD.

Those last two points are part of what makes living with Alzheimer’s so challenging. There are not always clear reasons why a person has the disease, and there is no tried-and-true treatment for AD at this time.

This is why ongoing research around Alzheimer’s potential causes and treatment methods is so important. The more we learn about the brain and how it is affected by Alzheimer’s-related proteins, amyloid plaques, and tau tangles, the closer we get to a potential cure. 

Early Diagnosis is Key

Because Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at the beginning of the middle-stage, when cognitive impairment is too dramatic to ignore, patients, families, and caregivers miss the opportunity to make decisions before things are chaotic and stressful. By diagnosing AD in the early stages, you have time to:

  • Learn all you can and make a long-term AD care plan that involves the individuals’ wishes, desires, and goals
  • Make smart decisions about caregivers or facilities
  • Tour memory care centers
  • Implement diet and lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation and support a healthier mind and body.

Read What to Do About an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis to learn more about the first, critical items to consider in the wake of an official diagnosis.

Re-Evaluate Diet & Make Anti-inflammatory Shifts

Recent studies have shown that high-fat, high-sugar diets “prime the brain” for AD. Diets that are higher in fats, sugars, and processed foods contribute to inflammation in both the hippocampus and the frontal lobe of the brain, two areas that experience AD decline. 

Patients who have AD and who maintain their high-fat/sugar diets tend to progress more rapidly through the disease’s stages and have lower life expectancies. Making the switch to an inflammatory diet is a powerful one. The Fischer Center for Alzheimer’s Research writes, “Older men and women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet showed less shrinkage of the brain than their peers who did not eat foods typical of the Mediterranean region.”

Click here to read more about anti-inflammatory, Alzheimer’s-oriented diet recommendations.

Establish a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

You may have heard about sundowner’s syndrome, or you may have personal experience with it if you’re currently an AD caregiver. The more we learn about the body’s need for natural daylight and dark to maintain essential biochemical balance in the brain, the more there is a need to establish a healthy circadian rhythm in the home.

Alz.org’s page on Sleep Issues & Sundowning offers tips for how to establish healthy daily and nighttime rhythms to prevent these issues and support brain health. When you begin looking for long-term care options, make sure to ask about how they help to prevent and support sundowning for their residents.

Social Engagement & Activities Are Essential

The NIH states in addition to healthy diet and lifestyle practices, “… social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits…might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.” 

If your loved one tends to retreat into depressed, anxious, or embarrassed seclusion, get in touch with Alzheimer’s support groups in your area, and learn how to keep AD patients socially stimulated and engaged to boost morale and their quality of life. 

Your busy calendar doesn’t have to be put on hold. Contact Adult Day Care or Respite Care options in your area to keep your loved one safe and ensure s/he remains social, participating in activities s/he enjoys to promote overall well being.

Click the links below for more helpful information on memory care and supporting your loved one through their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. 

Keeping Your Loved One With Dementia At Home: Is It The Best Option?

Deciding when to move a loved one from home-based care to a memory care center is a difficult topic. In most cases, spouses and families opt to wait until their loved one is in the middle- to later-stages of memory care in order to keep them at home – in a familiar space – as long as possible.

While these intentions are sound, the reality is that those with dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to experience longer, higher-quality lives when they are moved to a memory care center sooner rather than later.

Moving Into Memory Care Sooner Offers Higher Quality of Living

Here are some of the reasons quality of life is improved when spouses, parents, or loved ones move into a memory care center rather than remaining at home.

Keep ahead of the memory decline curve

A succinct post on alzheimers.net describes how Alzheimer’s evolves from preclinical Alzheimer’s (the first symptoms) to the late stages of severe cognitive decline. 

By moving a loved one into memory care center ahead of the “moderate decline” point on the curve, you improve the quality of your loved one’s life because:

  • Residents have the ability to settle in, learn their way around and become familiar with the staff, their neighbors and medical professionals while they still have cognitive function.
  • 100% of their daily life is geared toward memory care specific-diets, activities, routines, outings, etc., which keeps them active and engaged.
  • They are closely monitored by experienced clinical and medical staff who can notice and address any shifts, declines, or behaviors that are immediately improved via changes in medication, treatments, or therapies.

Research continues to show that while dementia isn’t reversible in most cases, dementia-specific care and attention notably slows its progression. And, the health professionals working at memory care centers are always at the forefront of the latest memory care research and treatment options.

Continuous social engagement

In most cases, pre-dementia life involves far more personal and social engagement, along with mental stimulation, than the post-dementia diagnosis lifestyle. 

This is especially true if the person is taken care of at home. The comfort of home and increasing care from immediate family members and caregivers is valuable, but it almost inevitably leads to an individual who spends most of his/her time sitting or lying down, not very engaged with those around them, rapidly turning inward on themselves.

While the initial transition may be emotionally difficult, it’s amazing to see how those with earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s blossom when they move into their new memory care environment. 

For one thing, there is no reason to maintain a pretense of “normalcy” – which is incredibly taxing for those who remain among their cognitively healthy family and friends. That “acting to keep it together” becomes a great strain.

Instead, the barriers can go down, the unknown can be explored and embraced with others in the same situation, and there is a whole new world of activities that are all geared for their wellbeing. 

Also, due to innovations such as Town Center concepts and village-like designs, memory care residents’ world becomes more vibrant (and manageable) as a result of their new environment.

Extended life expectancy and quality of life

Those who work in the very special realm of memory care know that residents who move here earlier get more comfortable and assimilate more quickly into their new life. They are more social and active, participate more willingly in the spectrum of amenities and activities offered at The Memory Center. 

As a result, those who move here during the earlier- to early-mid stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia live an average of two years longer than their counterparts.

On the other hand, individuals who move here during the later stages of the disease have the same life expectancy of those who move into more traditional nursing homes – somewhere around six months on average – because they simply don’t have the ability to enjoy all of the resources a memory care center offers them.

Ask yourself who you are protecting or taking care of

In the deep and heartfelt conversations, we have the honor and privilege to facilitate with our residents’ families, we often witness a spouse or child caregiver come to a painful awareness.

This wrenching revelation is that they waited so long to transition their beloved mate or family member into memory care because they, themselves, were having a difficult time accepting the new reality.

In many cases, the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s asked to move or encouraged their caregivers to let them move somewhere else, but guilt or a feeling of resistance held their caregiver back. You may feel like moving them somewhere is a surrender of your obligation when, in fact, it allows you to reclaim a more loving, connected relationship.

Is there any chance your resistance has more to do with a personal desire to “keep things as they are?”. Is your fear that memory care isn’t affordable a means of shielding yourself from the reality of the situation and what’s best for the one you love and hate to see go? 

If so, we recommend taking advantage of one or more of the amazing outlets for Alzheimer’s support here in our area to help you work through your feelings.

If finances are a concern, read, How to Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, to see if there are any avenues or resources you’ve yet to tap.

Ensuring A Smooth Transition Into Memory Care

We assure you that transitioning a loved one into the right memory care facility will enhance everyone’s life – freeing up time and space to explore the new relationship that must be forged with a dementia diagnosis, as well as your new paths forward.

There is always time required to form a new plan after receiving dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, research shows that the sooner memory care and treatment are available, the better it is for most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Learn more from these helpful resources: 

How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

Moving a parent or senior loved one with dementia into an assisted living or memory care community is a major transition. It’s an emotional journey and there are bound to be upsets and logistical challenges along the way.

Understanding How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

Having a go-to list of tips and suggestions can help you and your family better prepare to move a parent with dementia to assisted living while ensuring s/he receives impeccable care.

Start A Conversation Early (depending on the stage of memory loss)

If possible, begin making the long-term care plan as early as possible after the dementia diagnosis.

If your parent or loved one is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, looking ahead to find the right community allows them to be a part of the process, which can make for a smoother transition when moving day arrives.

Ideally, the time to move to a community is when s/he is no longer able to live safely and independently at home or when the level of care required becomes more than what you and/or other caregivers are able to provide from a time and safety perspective.

On the flip side, if your loved one is in mid-to later-stages of the disease, it can be upsetting to engage him/her in selecting a community and planning moving day.  In some cases, it is better to wait until the change is eminent to announce the move, and enlist the help of family and friends for decision-making, sorting, and packing.

Visit our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care for more insight into this topic.

Choose A Community Specializing In Memory Care

Not all assisted living communities are created equal, and many of them aren’t equipped to adequately care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Moving is challenging enough, and the last thing you want to do is have to move your parent a second time unless you absolutely must, so it is important to select the right community specializing in memory care.

Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities to help you select the best new home for your loved one.

Consider Visiting The New Assisted Living Community Together Before Moving Day

Familiarity is key to feeling safe.

Once a community is selected, some people find visiting the community a few times before moving day helps ease the transition. You and your loved one may consider attending and participating in activities and events, meeting other residents with similar interests and interacting with staff.  

Each of these visits proactively builds layers of familiarity.

Schedule The Move For Their “Best Time Of The Day”

Typically, late mornings and early afternoons are a dementia patient’s “best time of the day.” Early mornings and evenings may be more difficult.

The transition from one home to the next will be less stressful when your parent is most likely to be calm, allowing more time to settle in before s/he becomes fatigued or agitated.

Bring A Simple Collection Of Favorite Things

Odds are their new room is smaller than their current home, and clutter is a recipe for confusion and trip hazards.

If you haven’t received information from the assisted living community director or staff about what to bring from home, give them a call to find out how much is “just enough” to bring.

In some communities, rooms come furnished, but you should still be able to bring touches from home such as a favorite chair, wall art, personalized bedding, a CD player or iPod/docking station to play his/her favorite music.

At The Memory Center, our rooms are unfurnished to allow residents and their families to more closely recreate a space that looks and feels like home.

Having familiar pieces from home helps new residents settle in more quickly. And again, be careful about asking your parent “which item(s) do you want to take with you…,” as these types of decisions can be agitating in later stages of the disease.

We recommend reading Making A New Space In Assisted Living Or Memory Care Feel Like Home for more information on this important topic.

Take Advantage Of Counseling Services & Transition Programs

This is a major physical transition, to be sure, but it’s also a major emotional transition for everyone involved.

Often, spouses and family members are the most dramatically affected as they watch their loved one settle seamlessly into place while the rest of the family is experiencing a sense of grief. If your parent opts to move into assisted living in the earlier stages of dementia, you may find support from a counselor valuable who can help you or your family process the complex array of emotions the transition elicits.

If you’ve been an integral part of your parent’s dementia care, we suggest reading, Adjusting to Life…After Being a Caregiver, which offers nourishing tips on how to handle your next steps.

Communicate With The New Caregiving Staff

First and foremost, the staff want to get to know new residents. The more they know about your parent, the easier it is to spark conversations and connect with him/her as s/he settles in.

Additionally, it’s helpful to lean on the staff and allow them to explain the new transition and to support your parent during the move. Again, choosing a memory care-specific community means the administration and staff are well-versed experts and will know exactly what to say without causing further confusion or upset for your parent.

Carefully Deciding How to Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

As with all life transitions, mindful and methodical preparation is the key to minimizing mental and emotional stress. Selecting an assisted living center that specializes in memory care will provide the support you need throughout the move.

You may find interest in these related articles:




Understanding Dementia

Please join The Memory Center Atlanta and Dr. Mohan for an important and informative talk on Dementia. Leave with valuable resources and an improved understanding of the Dementia diagnosis. A light dinner will be served at no charge. Space is limited, so reserve your spot by RSVP to 770-476-3678.


Atlanta Resource Guide For Alzheimer’s Care And Support

An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is life changing, and it is also a call-to-action.

The sooner you can breathe through the initial shock and adjustment period, the better able you’ll be to create a long-term care plan that involves the input, opinions, and preferences of your loved one.

Quick action also optimizes the time available to research and learn more about the Alzheimer’s journey before it progresses to mid- or later-stages.

This gives you a more spacious ability to explore local options for the following:

  • Adult day care
  • Home care
  • Memory care

It also enables you to thoughtfully develop and assemble a financial plan that supports your loved one’s long-term care goals.

Top Online Resources to Learn About Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Care

There is only so much you can take in at a doctor’s appointment, especially in the wake of a confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The odds are that in addition to visiting your general practitioner, you’ll be referred to a neurologist.

Hopefully, your healthcare team will provide plenty of information about Alzheimer’s via pamphlets, and allow ample time for your questions and answers. We recommend recording appointments (with the doctor’s permission), so you can listen back afterward.

There are a wide range of reputable, online resources for learning about Alzheimer’s disease, keeping up on the latest research regarding medications and/or lifestyle changes that slow its progression, as well as information about the type of long-term care that’s most successful for those with mid- to late-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The following are the most well-respected and current websites available.

The National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Page

The US Department of Health and Human Services underwrites an organization called the National Institute of Health (NIH). Under this umbrella also lives the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which hosts an Alzheimer’s Disease page.

This is a solid place to start when you want to learn everything you can about Alzheimer’s, including general descriptions of the disease, information about caregiving needs and options as well as up-to-date facts about current Alzheimer’s research.

Another exciting thing about the NIA’s page is that it provides information about upcoming and existing clinical trials in which consenting adults can participate.

Additionally, there is a wealth of educational resources about diet and lifestyle changes that help to prevent Alzheimer’s, slow down its progression and to improve the outcome for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading voluntary health association dedicated to supporting Alzheimer’s research, providing information about Alzheimer’s and memory care, and connecting others with Alzheimer’s support in the Atlanta area and online.

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded more than 30 years ago when a group of families and caregivers joined together to create an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Today, the AA has connected with and provided support to millions of people affected by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and their website continues to be a premier resource for all aspects of Alzheimer’s information.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Similar to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was founded by individuals who are personally affected by Alzheimer’s.

One of their most helpful resources is a national toll-free hotline, (866-232-8484), that is staffed entirely by licensed clinical social workers specializing in Alzheimer’s care, treatment and support.

Like other non-profits, the AFA funds research and does everything possible to provide caregiver support and educate the public about Alzheimer’s, including information about confidential memory screening services available in Atlanta and elsewhere. Memory screenings are funded by generous donors and grantors and have been used to screen more than four million people nationwide.

Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis spreads ripples far beyond the lives of the patient, most powerfully impacting their spouse, immediate family and the next ring of family members and close friends.

Having conversations with these individuals early establishes your first rungs of support. Often, individuals are reticent to share this information and may want to keep it a secret out of fear, feelings of embarrassment and shame, etc.

While a short period of private adjustment is understandable, the sooner you feel comfortable having deep conversations with family and close friends, the better you’ll navigate a long-term care plan that makes sense for you and loved ones.

Read, Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, which also outlines how to bring close friends and family into the conversation.

Learn About Memory Care Options

One of the first items of business is creating a memory care plan; again, this is one of the reasons early action is so critical.

While it’s true people with early stages of Alzheimer’s can do fine for a bit by implementing in-home caregiving support, it’s also true that caregiving becomes quickly overwhelming for spouse caregivers. Thus, it makes sense to learn all you can about the full spectrum of options to add to your Alzheimer’s support and care kit.

In almost all cases, those with Alzheimer’s fare best when they move to memory care communities earlier, rather than later, so individuals have time to feel at home and adjust to their new environment while they are still able to make decisions and be more fully present in their day-to-day lives.

Once mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s sets in, significant transitions are highly stressful for both patient and spouse. And, sadly, in the attempt to “preserve the status-quo” for as long as possible, the resulting stress and strain of the move can exacerbate their symptoms.

Respite Care

In the beginning, while your loved one lives at home, you’ll need respite care. This invaluable service provides a break for primary caregivers.

While respite care can be brought in, or offered by a local senior center, we recommend using respite care options offered by the assisted living or memory care centers you’re currently researching. It’s an opportunity to familiarize yourself with their grounds, services, programs, and staff and ask important questions to learn more about the community.

Assisted Living Options

Until recently, those with later-stage Alzheimer’s moved into assisted living and/or nursing home facilities. These are still options, but we recommend only considering facilities offering dedicated memory care services since the needs and care required for those with Alzheimer’s are different from that of the general assisted living population.

Read, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, for more information.

Memory Care Centers

Dedicated Memory Care Centers are the best way to ensure patients live in supportive, stimulating and caring environments specifically designed and dedicated to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In addition to exemplary, round-the-clock care, high-quality memory care centers have on-site doctors, nurses, dental care, pharmacies, etc., to ease the transition for residents who are ill or require routine, managed care for existing medical conditions.

Similarly, things like Town Center models, art and music facilities, classes and other amenities provide a sense of “normal life” and make it a pleasure for spouses, friends and family members to visit.

Ultimately, memory care centers adhere to the Alzheimer Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, focused on tenets like person-centered care, on-site medical staff and supportive and therapeutic environments. All are proven to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Atlanta

Challenging conditions of an aging brain should be met with a supportive well-rounded community carefully planned for the individual.

This not only includes access to all of the necessary resources for a high quality of life today but one that can adapt to who they are tomorrow.

Learn more about memory care in Atlanta



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