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Memory Care vs Assisted Living: What Level of Care Do They Need?

Even on the best days, it’s hard to predict the future and tomorrow always changes based on what happens today. If you have senior parents, you know just how much things can change from moment to moment. That’s why it’s a good idea to figure out a plan where your loved one can get the support they need before they need it. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 70% of adults 65 and over will need long-term care at some point in their lives. If you’re just starting to review the senior living choices in your area, this post will answer the question, “What is the difference between assisted living and memory care?” and help you figure out which long-term care option is the best one for your family member.

What Is Assisted Living?

This is a level of care that allows seniors to maximize their independence by providing help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). There are six ADLs:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting (going to the bathroom)
  • Transferring (the ability to get in and out of bed)
  • Continence (being to control your bowels)
  • Eating

Besides needing assistance with daily activities, here are some other reasons you may want to consider this type of community for your loved one:

  • Chronic conditions: Ongoing medical conditions — like memory loss, heart disease or diabetes — can become debilitating as your loved one ages. Plus, the potential for medical emergencies also increases with each passing year.
  • Isolation: Being alone can affect your loved one’s overall health, leading to depression and habits that are bad for their health like excessive drinking, smoking, and prescription drug abuse.
  • Disorganized: Growing older can make it difficult for your family member to keep their house up to their usual standards. Expired or spoiled food in the fridge, or leftovers from the same meal or the same restaurant,could mean your loved one is unable to cook for themselves or not getting well-balanced and nutritious meals.
  • Personal appearance: Not being able to keep up with laundry or a bathing routine could indicate it’s time to consider assisted living for your loved one. 

What Is Memory Care?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2022 there were an estimated 6.5 million Americans over 65 living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss. Memory care offers a safe setting that caters to the needs of people with some form of dementia. Plus, the physical layout of a community can provide a pleasant environment that’s easy to navigate to help reduce confusion and agitation. They can also offer opportunities for your loved one to engage in things they enjoy, including socialization activities.

If you’re trying to figure out if your loved one would be safer and more content living in a memory care community, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it safe for my family member to continue living at home?
  • Could my loved one’s behavior cause harm to themselves or others?
  • What does my family member want, need and say about the situation?
  • What does my loved one’s doctor and other family members suggest?
  • Are there resources and support systems that can help my family member “age in place,” or would a move to a community provide better care and protection?

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Both types of communities provide many of the same services, including housing, meals, and help with ADLs. Memory care is a specialized level of care for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or memory loss. Here are some key areas where they differ:

  • Safety: Assisted living communities offer safety features like in-room emergency alert systems and daily check-ins, but security is a key design characteristic of memory care, which is why they often feature:
    • Locked entrances and exits
    • Keypad entries
    • Obscured exits
    • Doorbells that signal entering and exiting
  • Team: The team members in both levels of care have experience in supporting residents with day-to-day tasks. Caregivers in memory care also know how to effectively and compassionately prevent and manage difficult dementia behaviors. Plus, they understand the balance of encouraging residents to stay as independent as possible while providing the support they need.
  • Activities: Assisted living offers plenty of social opportunities and a wide range of planned activities — including art and fitness classes, clubs, games, activities and outings. Memory care offers both group and individual activities designed to help maintain cognitive skills and provide a sense of comfort and routine for residents.

Find the Support You Need at The Glebe

If you’re wondering, “Do I need to consider assisted living or memory care for my loved one?” our team is here to help. Have questions or want to learn more about our community? Contact us here