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Assisted Living vs Memory Care: What’s the Difference?
Did you know about 70% of adults older than 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? Many who require assistance will have some type of cognitive decline or memory loss. In fact, nearly 50 million people worldwide have dementia.
Assisted living care has evolved since our grandparents were faced with moving their loved ones into a facility. As a matter of fact, the term “facility” is rarely used these days as the word has been replaced with “Senior Living Community.” Memory Care was not even a thing in the past as well so the concept still seems pretty new to some.
Here, we explain the differences between assisted living vs memory care and how a senior living advisor can guide you so you are not alone.
Assisted Living vs Memory Care?
Assisted Living falls under a large umbrella term of Senior Living and is a part of long-term care services that provides a combination of housing and personal care as well as healthcare. It’s great for seniors who can no longer live on their own and need help with their personal and healthcare tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). This includes Bathing, Dressing, Toileting (incontinence care), and Transferring (to or from bed or chair).
Memory Care takes assisted living a step further as it offers mostly the same services except it is geared for those with Alzheimer’s and other related Dementia’s. The entire community is also secured so residents are not able to leave without being escorted for their own safety. Oftentimes, a resident with Dementia may elope but not realize where they are going and may get lost. Memory Care prevents this from happening so they can remain safe in their home without the risk of walking to a busy road or simply lost in the city.
Assisted living communities may offer safety features like in-room emergency pull cords alert and daily check-ins. But for seniors with memory loss, increased safety is a major concern, such as eloping or wandering as mentioned earlier. Aggression and falls are common, but dangerous dementia behaviors as well.
Environmental security is a key design feature of memory care communities as well. Secured means locked entrances and exits, along with other wandering-preventative tools like keypad entries, hard-to-find exits, and alarms signaling to enter and exiting. To avoid injuries from falls or confusion, community layouts include design elements that minimize this such as concealed doors that may look like a library or a mural of the ocean. In addition, memory care communities offer calming therapies within soothing spaces to include aromatherapy and other programs to reduce agitation all around that may lead to sun-downing, aggression, or self-harm.
Staff Training and Care Differences
Team members at both assisted living and memory care communities are trained and experienced in supporting residents with daily tasks. However, staff in memory care not only receive additional training in Dementia, but they are also well-equipped to provide 24-hour, resident-centered care that helps seniors with dementia maintain quality of life, a sense of self, and dignity for as long as possible.
Additionally, with a higher care staff-to-resident ratio than assisted living, memory care gives residents more one-on-one attention and care throughout the day.
Amenities vary greatly from one community to the next, but many assisted living communities offer:
- Fitness Center
- Therapy Room
- Beauty salons
- Spa rooms
- Outdoor spaces, like gardens or courtyards
- Transportation services
- Library and/or game room
- Arts and crafts area
Memory care communities differ in that they often feature some of the same amenities, but more importantly, you’ll find unique layouts and design features to help orient residents and reduce confusion. Design elements in memory care communities may include:
- Clearly defined common areas
- Color-coded walls/chairs/food plates to make it easier for those with memory loss to distinctly find the difference
- Amber lights in bathrooms to help not disorient seniors when getting up in the middle of the night
- Outdoor courtyards and gardens to prevent residents from feeling trapped or confined
- Personalized items, like memory boxes outside of residents’ doors to guide them and make them feel at home
Which Senior Living Community is Best for Me or My Loved One?
The process of searching for a senior living community can be an overwhelming experience. Many times, a loved one with Dementia can reside in assisted living and not necessarily need memory care just yet. One of the biggest ways to tell if memory care is more suitable is if the resident is wandering or trying to leave the home. In assisted living, you are able to freely come and go as you please, whereas, in memory care, you must be escorted. Also, mealtimes are a big differentiator. Typically, the resident is responsible for getting to and from meals that are held in the dining room. If a resident is not able to get to the dining room due to limited mobility, the care staff can escort them to the dining room but if the resident is not remembering to a certain extent that it is time to eat, memory care may be more appropriate.
Another way to tell which side is more appropriate is having the senior living community conduct an assessment on your loved one as they will ultimately decide which side is not only safe but will give a better quality of life. This assessment is conducted by any community you choose as it is required by law. It will give you a better understanding of what kind of care your loved one needs and help you determine costs as well.
If you are still unsure where to start or which type of community suits you or the needs of your loved one, let a senior advisor guide you. We will work as your advocate and help you every step of the way for free. Call us today at 407-796-1582 or visit www.northstarsa.com to learn more.