Assisted Living Versus Memory Care: The Differences

When it comes to choosing senior housing options, the terminology can get confusing. Nursing homes, assisted living care homes, memory care – what’s the difference?

Each type of care is quite different. The right one will depend, in part, on the stage of aging the senior has reached. If they have certain conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, these factors will play a role as well.

In this post, we’ll look at two of the most common care options, assisted living and memory care.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living allows seniors to receive some assistance with their daily living and medical care while still maintaining a significant amount of their independence. The actual living arrangements can vary. Some of the options include individual apartments, apartments in shared quarters, or multi-resident complexes.

Some of the services an assisted living community may provide include:

  • Preparing and serving daily meals
  • Administering and/or monitoring medications
  • Providing recreation and social activities
  • Basic medical services
  • On-call emergency care

Some assisted living facilities will also provide limited help with personal care issues. This may include bathing when needed.
If you’re considering an assisted living facility, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with exactly what kinds of service they provide. Then, ensure this matches up with the needs of your loved one.

It’s sometimes preferable to choose a facility that offers multiple care levels. This will allow a resident to easily move from one area to another instead of having to be completely uprooted and moved to a new facility should they begin to require additional layers of assistance.

It should also be noted that assisted living is not the same as a nursing home. The primary difference is that in an assisted living facility, the staff members are the primary caregivers. In a nursing home, on the other hand, the resident will receive care from trained medical professionals, including physicians and nurses.

assisted living

What Is Memory Care?

Seniors suffering from cognitive issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, need a higher level of care to ensure their safety and to give them the additional stimulation they need.

The staff at these facilities have received specialized memory care training that makes them uniquely qualified to work with seniors who are struggling with these conditions.

A memory care facility is usually designed to offer a warm and inclusive environment where seniors can socialize and engage in their favorite hobbies without too much restriction. At the same time, safeguards – like door alarms and hyper-vigilant staff – are put in place to ensure that the senior doesn’t wander off, leave the stove on, or do other things that could lead to harm.

Many of the social and recreational activities are also focused on improving cognitive skills. In a memory care facility, every effort is made to keep the seniors calm and comfortable, minimize anxiety, and make sure they live a happy life with plenty of community engagement.

memory care

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: How to Decide

Now that we’ve addressed the key points regarding assisted living vs. memory care, you may be wondering how to choose which is right for yourself or a loved one. In general, a regular assisted living is appropriate for people who are still able to take care of their basic needs, like grooming, hygiene, and dressing – at least most of the time.

While memory care facilities provide many of the same services as an assisted living facility, the opposite is not true. As a senior develops cognitive issues, it’s likely that a regular assisted living arrangement won’t be able to provide the services they need.

Failing to make the change could result in a dangerous situation, so it’s important for family members to be proactive when choosing a care option for their senior loved ones.

If a loved one needs advanced medical care, such as that provided by a nursing home, then you’ll want to find a nursing home with a memory care unit.

How to Choose a Memory Care or Assisted Living Facility

Now that you understand the difference between the types of care that are available, you’re ready to start vetting possible facilities so you can find the best one for your loved one’s needs.

First, always schedule an in-person tour. This is your chance to see first hand the amenities the facility offers and observe whether the other residents appear to be happy and well-cared-for. While you’re there, meet as many staff members as possible and ask all the questions you can think of.

A great facility will be extremely patient, will go out of their way to give thorough answers to your question, and will gladly show you any part of the facility you wish to see.

It’s also a great idea to ask if you can purchase a meal while you’re there. Since your loved one will be eating the meals on a daily basis, you’ll want to make sure it’s of good quality and palatable.

While you’re in the dining room, see if you can strike up a conversation with some of the residents. This will give you a good feel for what it’s really like living there.

While price should never be your deciding factor, you’ll also want to find out how much the facility will cost and determine whether it’s realistic for your budget. Also, inquire as to whether Medicare or other resources are available to help cover the costs.

It’s a good idea to visit at least a few different facilities and weigh the pros and cons of each before making your final decision.

Let Us Help With Your Assisted Living and Memory Care Needs

Choosing the right facility for your assisted living and memory care needs is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Contact us to discuss your options and schedule a tour of our facility.

We’ll answer all of your questions and help you feel comfortable with your decision.