Construction of memory care facilities on the rise

Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are among the greatest health concerns facing the senior population. More than 35 million people across the globe have dementia, but experts estimate that figure will triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. Given the growing prevalence of the condition, along with the burgeoning senior population, it should come as no surprise that the number of retirement communities with memory care services is on the rise, according to Senior Housing News.

Industry analysts found that development activity for memory care is advancing at a rate that's much faster than other areas in the senior living sector. Specifically, in the first quarter of 2013, the building of memory care facilities stood at about 5.7 percent of construction starts. Assisted living accounted for about 2.3 percent while independent living made up 1 percent. Many of the memory care offerings are combined with assisted and independent living elements.

"We are certainly not opposed to considering stand-alone memory care opportunities, but obviously the market has to be right for us to deviate from our model of assisted living and an attached, secured memory care wing," industry insider Mike Wagner told the news source.

Senior care targeting older adults' cognitive function may be able to have a significant impact on their mental health. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, found seniors who performed daily activities that were meant to be mentally challenging managed to preserve their cognitive function. 

"Maintaining both an active physical lifestyle and an active mental lifestyle has been shown to have cognitive [mental] benefits that may include delaying or preventing Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Sam Gandy, the associate director of the Mt. Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center told HealthDay News.