Memory Care vs Assisted Living: The Key Differences, Explained

memory care vs assisted living Senior Living Tips & Advice

Memory Care vs Assisted Living: The Key Differences, Explained

Over the next four decades, the senior population will increase to almost 100 million, nearly double what it is now. This is welcome news to many families who want to keep their loved ones around as long as possible. But, aging comes with a specific set of needs, all primarily determined by the individual.

If your loved one has shown signs that it’s no longer safe for them to live alone, you may have started the search for care options, such as Alzheimer’s care. Your search may reveal that memory care and assisted living are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they describe different services. 

Continue reading to learn about the critical differences between memory care vs assisted living and how to choose the right setting for your loved one.

What Is Assisted Living?

The most important thing to note about assisted living facilities is that they are not the same thing as nursing homes. At a nursing home, residents require care and monitoring at all times.

Assisted living is a supportive setting for older adults who live independent lives but need daily assistance with self-care tasks. These tasks range from meeting nutritional needs to administering medication. Also, the rooms are designed to encourage independent living, and some may also include a kitchenette for light meal preparation.

And, while every community will have different offerings, some amenities might include having

  • a private movie theatre
  • a full-service beauty salon
  • a gym or physical fitness center
  • and even an on-site restaurant

Invite your loved one to list out some amenities that they truly couldn’t live without. Then, prioritize those requests when deciding on a community. For example, if Mom is a huge movie buff who is always ready for a matinee, having an easily accessible theatre is a non-negotiable for her to live an enriched life.

The Benefits of Assisted Living

It’s no surprise that some seniors have more hours in the day after retirement than they know what to do with. Also, unless they have access to a vibrant senior community, their social needs are not met. This can lead to feelings of boredom, apathy, and depression.

This is why a top benefit of assisted living is that it provides a safe community setting where there is always something to do and someone to talk to. This allows the senior in your life to maintain independence so they can lead a rich and stimulating life.

With access to world-class dining, nutritional support, and a robust athletics program, you can rest easy knowing that your loved one is encouraged to live healthier than ever.

An assisted living facility will also adjust assistance levels as needed to accommodate your loved one’s needs changing over time, so you never have to worry about gaps in their care. 

What is Memory Care?

Memory care is a care community that focuses on seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive forms of memory loss. With memory care, seniors will receive the same support that their cohorts receive in assisted living. These will include assistance with meals, medications, and personal hygiene.

One of the main benefits of memory care is safety. 

For example, at home, you may have noticed your loved one confused and wandering outside of their room in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, this is a symptom of memory loss and is very common. In response, memory care facilities build safety into the environment.

These are the typical safety features a memory loss unit may employ to keep residents safe

  • Doors leading to stairwells, outside, and into other potentially hazardous locations have alarms to alert staff of entry
  • Gardens, patios, and all outdoor spaces are enclosed to prevent wandering out of the facility
  • Some sites will also offer a tracking bracelet to allow for safe, independent movement

Now that you know what each community can offer, it’s time to discuss the differences between memory care vs assisted living.

Memory Care Vs Assisted Living: The Main Differences

In an assisted living facility, your dear relative will have access to a broad range of activities and social events that they can choose to partake in. These are fun, optional activities that serve to add some luster to everyday life. 

However, this differs from memory care, where daily activities are scheduled and expected. In addition to delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia, these activities create the necessary stability and comfort of a routine. 

Assisted living facilities residents are given menus and posted meal times so that they can plan their day.

This differs from in a memory care unit where everything is structured. In memory care, residents are brought to and from meals at set times every day. This ensures that every resident receives the care they need.

However, with assisted living or memory care, your loved one’s specific needs should determine the level of assistance they receive.

Choosing a Care Center

When deciding between memory care vs assisted living, the only thing to consider is if your loved one has shown signs of memory impairment or cognitive decline. In this case, they would benefit most from a residential care home that has a memory care unit. 

When searching, you will want to tour a residential care center before you make a decision. In addition to making sure that the amenities and meals match the expectations of your loved one, you will also want to make sure that the center is clean and well-maintained. And, don’t be shy about asking residents or their relatives about their experiences.

At Maple Heights Senior Living, located in Washington DC, we offer a range of services to meet diverse aging needs and spacious luxury suites. When you are ready to learn more, contact us to schedule a tour.