Memory Care Vs. Assisted Living: Differences and Determining Factors

memory centerThe need for senior care is on the rise, but there are two sectors that stand out as the fastest-growing: assisted living and memory care. That said, these two types of senior care are not interchangeable. It’s important to understand the differences between memory centers and assisted living facilities so that you can make an informed decision pertaining to the care of your loved one.

Assisted Living
In assisted living, senior residents may require some assistance with certain daily activities. While residents can still maintain much of their independence and live in private apartments, they typically have 24-hour access to staff members who can help them with cleaning, dressing, bathing, transportation and mobility, medication management, and more.

Memory Care
Memory centers are more specialized than assisted living facilities, as memory care caters to those with dementia (including Alzheimer’s) and other memory issues. If they are part of a larger living facility, these memory centers — which offer 24-hour supervised care — are typically housed in a separate building, floor, or wing of the community. Often, physical layout and security are given high priority in the design of these centers, as those with dementia have a tendency to wander and become overwhelmed. These residential centers are ideal for those who can no longer care for themselves due to a progressive, cognitive condition like dementia.

How to Choose
If your loved one shows signs of cognitive decline, you may be wondering whether you should opt for assisted living or memory care. An important first step is to talk to your loved one’s doctor(s) to get a better idea of their overall health. A definitive diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that a memory care unit is the only choice right now. Some assisted living communities do have memory centers on-site, but assisted living may be the more appropriate choice for some seniors in the early stages of dementia.

However, it’s important to remember that Alzheimer’s disease is the only top 10 cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be slowed, prevented, or cured. This progressive disease will worsen with time (and in some cases, rather quickly). Alzheimer’s care centers can provide the stability, safety, and enrichment that can allow your loved one to maintain their quality of life for much longer, thanks to many of the memory care activities these facilities may offer. Keep in mind that while memory care disclosure laws are highly regulated in many states (meaning that facilities in these states must offer certain services in memory care programs), that’s not the case everywhere. Caregivers should conduct ample research prior to deciding on a memory facility and ensure that your choice offers everything you feel would benefit your loved one.

Ultimately, making the choice between assisted living and memory care will be up to you and your family. But we hope this post has illuminated the key differences and considerations that will factor into this decision. To find out more about our programs, please get in touch with us today.

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