According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, as many as 7 in 10 people will require assisted living care in their lifetime. As a result, senior citizens need to receive the right kind of care to thrive in retirement. Assisted living and memory care are two of the many options available for your aging family member. But what is memory care vs. assisted living, and which provides the best senior services?
Here’s what you need to know about assisted living vs. memory care before you decide on one.
What Is Assisted Living?
As the name implies, assisted living is a type of facility that allows seniors to live independently with whatever help they need. For some, it may be as simple as getting help acquiring groceries. They can also get access to community meals and various activities. The best candidate for this living situation is someone who retains their reasoning skills. They may not be able to do as much as they used to physically, but they can remember all the essential things. These individuals are still capable of communicating what they need to their helpers.
What Is Memory Care?
In contrast, memory care is much more intensive. It’s focused more on aiding individuals with dementia or memory issues. Facilities with these services may have smaller, more dedicated spaces. However, it’s not uncommon for a facility that offers both memory care and assisted living to have similarly sized rooms for all residents. The best candidate for memory care is someone who has shown difficulty navigating their life on their own due to their loss of memory. They may find it hard to communicate what they need to others. Someone who needs memory care may also require help with routine activities such as eating and showering.
Assisted Living vs. Memory Care
On the surface, both of these types of senior living options seem very similar. It all depends on how much care the person requires in their daily lives. An individual can live in assisted living and never have memory problems but still require help with things like dressing and buying groceries. There are a few different factors to consider when looking into memory care vs. assisted living. First, each differs in staff training, activities, and specialized care.
To become an assisted living administrator, an applicant must take a course from a registered trainer, pass a competency exam, and pass a background screening. Requirements may differ slightly from state to state, but the test has a high pass rate. Memory care communities boast staff with additional training on top of that. Their residents may have difficulties swallowing, severe anxiety, and other dementia-related issues. Both communities do have nurses and nursing assistants on staff, though.
Many memory care activities focus on helping alleviate the anxieties and difficulties surrounding dementia. For example, a community may use music therapy to help your loved one access different parts of their brain. They may also encourage art projects that benefit residents to think creatively. Meanwhile, assisted living activities are usually more hands-off. The staff can trust that a resident won’t wander off and get themselves into trouble. Residents are also more capable and independent than those with dementia. The experience is very similar to that of a resort. Residents can garden to their heart’s content, get massages, and access event spaces.
A significant benefit of assisted living and memory care facilities is that residents can access all-day dining. The meals are all high-quality and nutritious, created in-house by staff chefs. The kitchen staff makes these meals explicitly catered to the residents’ nutritional requirements and dietary restrictions. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at any time of the day. Residents don’t have to wake up at a particular hour to get breakfast. They can also invite their family and friends to join in on their meal. The most significant difference between memory care vs. assisted living is the amount of help provided. Residents with dementia may have difficulty eating or refuse to eat altogether. They may need someone else to provide nutritionally sufficient food.
Residents in memory care communities often require more extensive measures to keep them safe and secure. It’s not uncommon for someone with dementia to wander off and get into trouble. The last thing staff wants to lose is someone they’re responsible for. While those in assisted living also receive specialized care, it’s much more hands-off. They have access to things like care coordination, housekeeping services, and transportation to medical appointments. However, they may not receive 24-hour care or supervision.
Choosing Between the Two
One of the most challenging decisions for a caregiver will be deciding between assisted living or memory care for their loved one. Getting ahead of dementia is key to slowing its progression. Some warning signs that someone needs memory care include changes in behavior, debilitating confusion, and a decline in physical health. These things may show that individuals cannot be left to care for themselves anymore. In addition, you have to consider the cost of the different types of care. Assisted living communities usually charge by the month, covering all of their amenities. Memory care communities offer more specialized care that will often run you more per month.
Combining the Best of Both Worlds
What if you didn’t have to think about assisted living vs. memory care facilities? What if one place offered both services, making for an easy transition for your loved ones? Alura Senior Living is one such community that offers a variety of living options for our residents. We provide independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Contact us to learn more and schedule a tour of our community.
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