Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

What's the Difference?

Choosing between all the available senior living care options can be an overwhelming process, especially when you or your loved one are in need of immediate, quality care.

Two care options that often confuse people are assisted living and memory care. While they are both forms of senior living that involve long-term care services, there are some key differences as well.

Keep reading to hear how aspects of these senior living communities vary depending on which type of facility you choose.

The Residents

In assisted living communities, the residents are individuals who require personal care support with the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), which include managing money, medication, cooking, keeping house, and social activities with friends. Some residents may need help with medication management, transportation and mobility help, and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

On the other hand, memory care residents are individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other diseases that cause memory problems. Memory care communities are specially designed to assist these patients with different types of care, from health care to maintaining their independence and quality of life.

Living Options

The residents in assisted living facilities typically have their own living spaces, often a private room or a shared apartment.

Memory care facilities are designed to best suit Alzheimer’s and dementia patients‘ needs for routine and security. They are created to prevent residents from wandering off the property and to encourage stress-free relaxation and socialization. Patients who require dementia care often share a room or have a private room along with 24-hour supervision.

Services Offered

Both assisted living and memory care communities offer the same basic services to help residents. These include:
  • Supervised residential care
  • Medication management
  • Assistance with activities of daily living, including showering, hygiene, dressing, and eating
Other common services that may or may not be included are:
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Access to higher level medical care
  • Social activities with other residents
  • Three meals a day, often in a group dining room
  • Physical therapy
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • 24-hour security

These are all typical of both assisted living communities and memory care units.

However, memory care requires a higher level of care in order to keep residents safe. Staff members are trained to provide the type of care that these patients require. For instance, there is often a schedule of daily activities that are structured specifically to support these patients.

Care Costs

The average costs of assisted living and memory care communities can vary widely based on several factors, including the level of care you or your loved one requires, the included amenities and activities, the size of the residence, and your location.

You should plan for assisted living costs to be higher than those of an independent living community because of the higher level of care that is offered.

Memory care communities typically have the highest costs of care options. Because of the need to have round-the-clock supervision and security, the investment is higher.

Keep in mind that both assisted living and memory care facilities can be both less stressful and less expensive than dedicated in-home care. There are many options for covering these care costs, including private pay, Medicare or Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and more.

How to Choose a Senior Community Living Option

Older adults who are still able to live on their own may choose independent living or home care. These options allow them the independence that they may desire.

However, as care needs increase, choosing a different living option may become necessary.

If you or your family member requires specialized senior care that you cannot provide yourself, you may want to look into assisted living communities. If you or your family member are not concerned about Alzheimer’s or dementia at this stage, assisted living would likely be the best option.

However, if Alzheimer’s disease/dementia or another condition or disability that affects cognition has entered the equation, even in the early stages, you may want to consider a more skilled nursing facility that either only focuses on memory care services or has a special care unit for dementia patients.

Finding the right care option for you or your family member can be a stressful time. Let our team help!

 Our representatives are ready to talk to you about your needs and to help you choose the right option for you and your loved ones.

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