The internet is filled with articles and lists of purported "best" memory care communities in Los Angeles. Most of these articles are written as "click-bait" by people who are not local and have never stepped inside the buildings. Sarah Ordover, owner of Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles, is a local, dementia certified senior living expert whose job it is to understand the variety of memory care options available to clients and to counsel them on the right fit for their loved ones. About 80% of her practice is placing seniors experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia and memory impairment in Los Angeles assisted living facilities and board and care homes.
Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles offers objective, no-cost advice to clients across the spectrum of the disease, working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the families they serve. While the following list is a starting point for families researching placement options for someone with dementia, it is always best to work directly with Sarah and her team at Assisted Living Locators. Each person's experience and needs are different.
Memory Care Communities: What To Look For
1. Citations with the Dept. of Social Services. The California Dept. of Social Service is the regulatory body for assisted living facilities, including board and care homes. The baseline is to understand any citations or complaints that have been filed against a facility to see whether any of them have directly impacted the health or welfare of the resident body.
2. Segregated populations by disease progression. Some facilities, particularly assisted living communities with secured memory care wings, lump everyone together whether they are in the early stages of memory decline or end stages. This is not healthy for those who are beginning their dementia journey.
3. Appropriate levels of physical and cognitive stimulation. Does the memory care facility offer programming that addresses residents where they are in the disease or is it a "one size fits all" approach?
4. Knowledgeable, respectful and engaged staff. When you visit, is the staff engaged with residents? Are they positive, patient and caring? Do they know how to redirect someone with dementia?
Best of Los Angeles Memory Care Communities: The List
1. Silverado Senior Living $$$$: Founded in 1996, Silverado is the pioneer in all-memory care communities. With five locations in the Greater Los Angeles area - Mid-City, Redondo Beach, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks and Alhambra, Silverado provides purpose-driven programming and care for residents at each level of disease progression. All staff members are dementia care certified and each location has a licensed nurse on-site at all times. As one of the recognized leaders in dementia care, Silverado has research affiliations with government organizations and universities. Sarah says: "When you walk into a Silverado location, the residents are busy and engaged. The evidence based programming and passion of the staff is evident in everything they do. Best for individuals with early to mid-stage memory loss."
2. Welbrook Memory Care $$$$: Welbrook is a boutique memory care community with 50 private studios located in a convenient Santa Monica neighborhood. The local leadership team are experienced senior living administrators and dementia certified practitioners who started Welbrook in 2018, wanting to implement next generation practices in dementia care. Because most individuals with dementia are unable to use a call button, Welbrook implemented the Vigil Monitoring System, a passive in-room sensor that silently signal caregivers when an individual may need help. Sarah says: "Welbrook is particularly good for individuals with dementia who are fall risks or need close supervision but who still can benefit from programming and activities."
3. Avenir Senior Living $$$$: Newly opened, this all-memory care community located in Westchester on the way to the airport, Avenir is pioneering a new concept of care for Los Angeles. The building is designed with four distinct "neighborhoods." Each neighborhood cares for residents with similar cognitive abilities from mild cognitive impairment to the end stages of Alzheimer's and other dementias. The building has 24/7 nursing oversight and an RN Director of Health Service. A roundtable assessment allows all department heads to meet with a resident's family and loved ones prior to move in to determine needs, likes and possible triggers. Sarah says: "Although Avenir is new to Los Angeles and, as yet, unproven, it is definitely on the right track with the different cognitive neighborhoods. It will be interesting to watch how this memory care community develops."
4. Belmont Village Senior Living $$$-$$$$: Belmont Village is a luxury independent, assisted living and memory care company with local communities in Westwood, Hollywood, Encino, Burbank, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calabasas and Thousand Oaks. While the Belmonts operate well-run secured memory care wings, what makes the chain a stand-out is their Circle of Friends program, which allows residents who are experiencing some memory decline to live in assisted living and receive additional support without having to move to a secured memory care environment. Circle of Friends residents live in assisted living but participate in a structured day of activities designed to help maintain cognitive function. Sarah says: "Belmont Circle of Friends is a unique program that allows residents with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia to stay involved, engage with others and get the support they need to be successful."
5. Melrose Gardens $$$: Melrose Gardens is a small, boutique memory care community located on a leafy, verdant West Hollywood street. The main building has 38 suites and caters to residents with early/mid-stage cognitive decline. A separate building, called The Cottages, provides 19 suites dedicated to individuals with mid/late-stage dementia. Locally owned, Melrose Gardens provides an intimate and homey environment for residents. Sarah says: "Melrose Gardens is best suited for those with mid-stages of dementia who still can benefit from socialization and group activities but need additional support."
6. Pacifica Senior Living Northridge $$: All memory care community inspired by the Montessori method, this 102 resident community has a dementia waiver for the entire building. The main assisted living area is geared to individuals with early to mid-stage memory loss. A separate secured memory wing focuses on residents who need a higher level of care and supervision. A big, gated outdoor patio gives residents the opportunity to spend time in the California sunshine. Sarah says: "This is an ideal spot for families looking for affordable dementia care in the San Fernando Valley. The management is doing a terrific job of engaging residents at all levels."
7. Posada at Whittier $$: A memory care waiver for the entire building makes this a great hard to find property for those with early-mid stage memory loss. There is a separate memory care unit for those farther along. The community is locally owned and managed, cheerful and lively. Posada at Whittier has an excellent Dept. of Social Services record which is noteworthy for communities at this price point. Sarah says: "It may be worth the extra drive to get to this affordable memory care community. It is particularly good for early to mid-stage Alzheimer's and other dementias."
Finding the right memory care community for a loved one is no easy task. These are just a few examples of what is available in Los Angeles. Senior Living Advisor, Sarah Ordover, owner of Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles, can help you find the best fit, at all price points and factoring in the range of care needs. Don't try to figure it out alone. Call Sarah at 310-853-8282. Her service is free.