Memory care facilities provide specialized residential care for people with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

In Arizona, experts say memory care quality has been inconsistent, but theres an already-successful push to make that care more reliable.

So youll find that one facility does it really well, another one doesnt, said Tory Robert, Director of Government Affairs for the Alzheimers Association, Desert Southwest Chapter. And the consumer has no idea how to determine that. And once you move your loved one into an assisted living facility, and they are living with dementia, to move that person would be, it could be very traumatic. It could set them back. So choosing a facility is very important.

Roberg says theres nearly two thousand assisted living facilities in Arizona that can offer so-called directed care for people with cognitive impairments, like Alzheimers and dementia. But there has been no real standard for memory care.

There is no specific training on the disease or the special needs of people living with the disease, she explained. And thats the gap were trying to fill.

Enter Arizona House Bill 2764, introduced by Republican Tim Dunn, then signed into law by Gov. Katie Hobbs this spring. It establishes guidelines for the states memory care facilities: a minimum eight hours of training for all staff, plus another four hours for managers.

Its a rare bipartisan success story.

Whether youre a Republican or youre a Democrat, this is a disease that affects everyone, said Roberg.

She calls the new standards a good start.

Were gonna have very clear, defined administrative roles on what memory care means Whats gonna happen is, were gonna have improved quality of care. And that brings me so much joy.

The standards go into effect in the summer of 2025. Roberg explains the delay is in part to allow businesses to adjust to implementing the new training standards.

More federal funding

Memory care is also an issue where both sides of political aisle seem to agree in Washington, D.C.

Congress recently agreed to add $100 million to federal research funding, bringing the total to $3.8 billion annually.

James Fitzpatrick, Director of Advocacy with the Alzheimers Association, says that funding has led to new treatments.

Plus, more than $30 million is being added to improve infrastructure and awareness nationwide.

We need this to be a public health issue, like smoking, heart disease, skin cancer, Fitzpatrick said. Its amazing that Congress has put in money for this bill year over year More and more people are developing Alzheimers and dementia, because were aging. Were becoming a huge, aging population. And we need to address this.

The Alzheimers Association estimates seven million Americans are impacted by the disease.