What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

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What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

Understanding the vast senior living industry doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Determining the best establishment for your loved one will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including your loved one’s needs, abilities, environment, and your budget. However, with time and the right approach, finding the perfect senior housing option can be a comforting and reassuring experience.

Senior living options can include nursing homes, independent living communities, and residential care homes (often referred to as group homes). Two of the most popular senior living options, assisted living and memory care communities, provide housing and care for millions of seniors each year. With each serving a specific purpose, how can you know which housing option is best for your loved one? Use our guide below to explore the differences between assisted living and memory care communities.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

In basic terms, assisted living communities are a type of housing where team members provide assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, toileting, transferring, medication management, etc), meals, and housekeeping for the elderly and/or disabled. Memory care communities offer supervised care to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and similar memory disorders in a secure setting, often within an assisted living or residential community.

If you’re looking for a safe, secure environment for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia that includes programming specifically targeted toward memory impairment, a memory care setting will be more suitable for your family. By contrast, an assisted living community can offer an environment that is tailored more to meeting the specific physical needs of your loved one while still offering independence, social activities, and safety.

Many assisted living communities may also feature a memory care wing or building on site. Either type of care provided may feature private apartments, structured activities, and outdoor socializing areas.

Your preference for an assisted living or memory care community may depend on:

Senior Care Services

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

The services offered by a memory care or assisted living community can vary by the regulation of your state. States often specify what types of services should and can be legally offered in a senior care community with legislature. By law, either type of facility is expected to provide:

  • 24-hour staff supervision, security, and care
  • Access to medical care
  • Emergency contact systems
  • Assistance with daily activities, like hygiene or mobility
  • Housekeeping services, like laundry or cleaning
  • Transportation
  • Social activities and programs
  • At least three daily meals

Some communities may charge a fee for some of these services in addition to the standard monthly rate.

Unlike assisted living communities, memory care centers may offer scheduled activities that are designed to help manage the loss of cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These activities are always provided by trained staff members that are well-versed on the particular challenges facing these residents.

Senior Living Community Staff

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

An assisted living and memory care community can hire from a similar candidate pool of nurses and caregivers. However, memory care communities may prefer team members with distinctive training in memory impairment or care services that benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. At American Orchards, we provide additional on-going training to all of our team members on how to specifically manage the unique and often very personal challenges of our memory care residents.t

Some memory care communities may opt for a smaller staff-to-patient ratio. A memory care caregiver, for example, may be assigned to a smaller number of residents to ensure that he or she can meet all their group’s needs in a timely manner. A caregiver working at an assisted living facility may depend on community guidelines or expectations to determine the number of residents he or she can attend to at any given time.

Housing Facilities

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

Depending on the level of care required, an assisted living campus can offer an apartment or hotel-style of living, with residents living semi-private lives within the comfort of their own suite. Residents enjoy a well-rounded calendar of daily, weekly, and monthly activities designed to stimulate the interests of the residents themselves. Residents may also enjoy off-site activities or travel to nearby attractions, like grocery stores.

A memory care community may offer more security and safety precautions to ensure the safety of residents. It’s common for memory care centers to utilize specific environmental features to impede residents from wandering off or acting out. Additionally, memory care communities can feature door alarms or sensor lights to alert staff when necessary. Much like an assisted living community, memory care centers can feature a set routine of activities for patients.

Much like an assisted living community, memory care can feature a set routine of activities for patients. However, to avoid overstimulation or discomfort, such activities are timed to keep patients engaged in and happy with their environments.

Both types of settings are required to provide three meals per day, prepared on-site by a chef or team. Each community will offer socialization opportunities around the table. Because regular socialization can help improve the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a memory care community may use meals as an opportunity to foster independence and communication skills in residents. Meals served at both a memory care and assisted living community may also be prepared in a way that meets the nutritional requirementss of the residents.

Cost of Senior Living Options

Assisted Living vs Memory Care

The cost of your senior living community is dependent on many factors, including your location, the community’s services, the privacy of your loved one’s suite, and the amount of care required per person. Given the special skill set required for memory care and generally higher care needs, it is common, although not requisite, for a memory care center to cost more per month.

American Orchards Senior Living Options

When searching for the right senior housing community for your loved one, it’s important to conduct the research necessary to make an informed decision. Selecting a community to care for the needs of your loved one shouldn’t be rushed, but rather considered across the factors that are most important to your family.

In addition to experience, empathy and professionalism are key for the right assisted living or memory care experience. American Orchards in Gilbert, AZ offers top-tier assisted living, memory care, and wellness services with a living experience that speaks to the individuality and interests of your loved one. Our person-centered living environment and care model equips your loved one with necessary tools, resources, and team to live a fulfilling life that meets all their needs. For more information on our memory care and assisted living services, or to learn more about our Gilbert, Arizona location, contact us online or call us directly at 480-887-0599.

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