What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

February 8, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

Studies show that 1 in 10 people 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia. Cognitive decline is common, to a certain extent, during the aging process. But when considering senior community options, what is the difference between an Assisted Living community and one specializing in memory care? How do you know what if the right fit for your loved one?

Here is what you need to consider:

  • An “Assisted Living” or a “Memory Care” community is NOT the same as a “nursing home”. Nursing Home is a term often used to describe a Skilled Nursing Facility that offers 24/7 clinical nursing care. These environments, because of the patient/resident’s needs, look and feel like a hospital setting.

    Assisted Living and Memory Care communities have “homey” apartment settings. Private or shared apartments are offered, and they are focused on care, but also have an emphasis on engagement, activities, and amenities. Many communities have high functioning areas that tailor to residents who want to be as independent as possible but just need some extra support physically and/or cognitively. That said, they are designed to allow residents to age in place and receive higher levels of care as they need it.

  • Both Assisted Living and Memory Care base costs will include 3 meals a day, laundry and housekeeping services, transportation, and activities. Typically in Assisted Living, a care level and correlating price is determined at move-in so you are only paying for what you need/receive. In Memory Care, however, care needs often vary daily (or even hourly) so usually cost is all-inclusive including care so it will not go up as your loved one’s needs increase.
  • The Caregiver to Resident ratio is typically lower in Memory Care settings because residents often require more one-on-one care/attention.
  • Memory Care communities/areas are always “secure” to avoid residents wandering or eloping. This is incredibly important to consider if your loved one has ever wandered off in the past or is a risk to do so. Note: if a resident is an elopement risk, it will be non-negotiable for them to be in Memory Care to make sure they remain safe.
  • In Memory Care, Caregiver training and resident activity programming is focused on supporting those with dementia. If your loved one is overwhelmed with daily tasks, needs prompt to do most activities of daily life and is becoming isolated because of their cognitive decline, then a Memory Care environment could be a huge help to get them the support they need to have a better quality of life with more engagement and joy.
  • If the cognitive decline is apparent, but not progressed enough to warrant Memory Care, we suggest choosing an Assisted Living community that has a Memory Care wing or building on site. This will allow your loved one to continue to get the care they need and avoid you needing to move them in the future.

Remember that this is a collaborative decision, as any new resident moving into an Assisted Living or Memory Care will be evaluated by a Director of Nursing from the community to make sure they can care for their needs physically and cognitively.

If you are in the process of determining what care level is appropriate or which community is the best fit for your loved one, reach out to us for a discovery call where we can make sure you have all the information, options, and resources you need to make the best decision. We are a FREE service for Seniors and their Caregivers to help you along the journey!

You can book the call on our website www.sunwaysalc.com or by calling (941)867-0809.

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