For some people, memory and cognitive function can begin to decline with age. Most people think that this a completely normal part of getting older, but in reality, mental function should stay constant throughout a person’s older adult life. If you or a loved one suffers from or is starting to show signs of memory decline, you may be wondering what types of care options are available through Medicare insurance.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is a specific type of treatment that is provided to individuals that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory issues. This type of care involves having a highly monitored environment with set routines and schedules to help reduce the effects of memory decline and confusion.
Memory care facilities provide safe, stress-free environments for their community members. They also carry out many programs to help improve cognition and slow its decline. Some of these programs can be related to nutrition while others may be based on physical tasks, such as fitness exercises or memory games.
Do Medicare Benefits Include Memory Care?
In most cases, memory care facilities are not covered by Medicare. Because of this, placing a family member in a memory care facility can be quite expensive. However, there are certain types of care that Medicare does provide that can be beneficial during the early, middle, and late stages of mental decline and memory loss.
Early Stages of Memory Loss
The early stages of memory loss can most often be noticed if a person seems to have difficulty with certain tasks that usually pose no problem to them. This could include forgetting the name of a person they just met or where certain items were placed. Additionally, a person may have a more difficult time making decisions, struggle with organization, or have a hard time concentrating or staying on topic in conversation.
If these early signs become apparent, it may be beneficial to visit a physician. Medicare benefits do include an annual wellness visit, which can incorporate a cognitive assessment and allow for early diagnoses to be made. Medicare may cover diagnostic testing, such as CT scans, PET scans, or MRIs, if they are needed to confirm a suspected diagnosis. Certain medications may also be prescribed to help counteract or manage negative symptoms. Services covered by Medicare Part B may require the patient to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount. In order to get coverage for prescription drugs, you will need to enroll in Part D.
Middle Stages of Memory Loss
In these stages, memory loss and confusion often become more apparent, and everyday tasks may become more difficult. Mood swings may begin to occur more often, and attention span may shorten significantly.
In 16 states, Medicare offers training programs for family members to help them better care for loved ones with memory loss. In addition, home health services may be covered by Medicare if speech, occupational, or physical therapy is needed and a client is unable to leave their home. However, Medicare will not provide coverage for assisted living or memory care facilities for patients in this stage of memory loss.
Advanced Memory Loss
In the late stages of memory loss, extensive care is generally required. Communication is often highly limited, activities of daily living may need significant assistance, and memory and cognitive decline is widely apparent.
For those in late-stage memory loss, hospice care may be required. As long as this care is deemed necessary by a physician and the physician reports that an individual has fewer than six months left to live, Medicare Part A will provide coverage for this care.
For individuals suffering from mental decline, it is important to notice symptoms and seek medical care early on to prevent the disease from worsening quickly. Medicare does not cover everything related to these issues, but they do provide some coverage to help with diagnosis and early treatment.