Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: Know the Difference
Do you know how many people in the United States fall within the 65 and older age bracket?
47.8 million people back in July 2015, according to the most recent Census report.
What’s more, experts project this to double come 2060!
What do these numbers tell us? One, that life expectancy has increased – many of us now live longer.
On the other hand, longer lifespans put people at more health risks. Of the many health conditions associated with the elderly, dementia is amongst the most common. Alzheimer’s disease alone affects about 5.7 million people!
It’s for this reason memory care services have grown in demand over the years. The fact that there are more than 15.97 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers proves this.
The question is, will your loved one benefit more from a memory care facility or an assisted living community?
Keep reading to learn the difference between them.
The Critical Differences between The Two
Experts say that Alzheimer’s can claim the lives of more than 700,000 people in 2018. As a loving family member, it’s understandable for you to feel worried.
This is the reason you want to choose the right care facility for your loved one. Start by knowing the difference between a memory care unit and an assisted living facility.
Your choice has a huge impact on your loved one’s condition management.
What is Memory Care?
At its core, memory care is a robust, specialized care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Highly-qualified and trained health care professionals are always on-site.
Patients live within a structured environment. They have daily routines and schedules.
This structure allows them to enjoy a stress-free lifestyle. It also ensures they remain safe within the facility (we’ll discuss this in more detail below).
Memory care units have programs and activities designed to help cultivate and preserve their patient’s cognitive skills.
Keep in mind that people with dementia often have periods of confusion. This puts them at risk for wandering.
A memory facility has design features (such as color-coded hallways) that help residents navigate their way around the building. This reduces confusion, while also helping minimize anxiety.
In other words, these facilities have specific health care services geared towards individuals suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How About Assisted Living?
Assisted living, on the other hand, offers varying levels of care.
Some offer light care, such as help with bathing, housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation. Others can provide more specialized care, such as for bedridden patients. Some facilities even have their own memory care unit.
Although not true in every case, you’ll find some assisted living communities with 24/7 security. They also have emergency call systems in place. They can even help your aging loved one with custom health and exercise programs.
Deciding Between the Two
Consider the current and future health condition of your loved one. This is the most important factor when deciding between a memory care and assisted living facility.
Does he/she still live somewhat independently? Do they only require help with chores like housekeeping and medication reminders? If so, then assisted living may be a good choice.
If your aging family member already suffers from memory loss, memory care is a better option. You need to keep in mind that Alzheimer’s isn’t curable nor preventable.
The good news is that its symptoms are manageable. You can minimize the dangers and risks it brings.
But, because you can’t always be there to watch over your loved one, it’s best you have trained people taking over for you. A memory care facility can do all these and more.
Dementia and Behavioral Issues
Note also that most assisted living facilities aren’t equipped to handle patients with behavioral issues.
What issues are we referring to?
From anxiety to aggression, agitation to depression – these are the most common. To make things worse, 30% to 90% of dementia sufferers exhibit these behaviors.
No, Alzheimer’s isn’t preventable. You can help your loved one have lower chances of developing the mentioned behavioral disorders, however.
Memory care professionals cater to dementia and Alzheimer’s, which means they can help address each stage of dementia.
Memory impairment and confusion can make patients feel helpless. But with compassion and understanding from trained specialists, they can feel that they are in more control of their condition.
Improved Safety for Dementia Sufferers
Did you know that people with dementia are at more risk for falls?
Compared to people without cognitive impairment, they have four to five times greater likelihood of falling.
That’s because their condition, apart from affecting their memory, also impairs movement coordination. Some of them may also have difficulties interpreting their environment.
All these contribute to the already long list of dementia complications.
But unlike Alzheimer’s, falls are preventable if highly-trained individuals, like the team members in a memory care facility, supervise them.
Preventing falls is crucial to keeping the independence (think sprains and broken bones) of dementia patients. More than that though, it’s critical to improving their overall quality of life.
Greater Engagement and Happiness
In larger assisted living communities, you’ll usually find memory care in a separate unit. However, this doesn’t mean they isolate patients.
These specialized facilities offer programs to help patients maintain sociability. Therapeutic daily activities, such as arts and crafts, music, and games and sports keep residents engaged and satisfied.
Remember what we said about behavioral disorders in dementia patients? These activities, combined with the understanding, compassionate environment they live in, further reduce such possibilities.
Specialized Care Is for Your Aging Loved One and the Entire Family
Memory care doesn’t just help your family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When you know that your loved one has qualified 24/7 care, you’ll feel more at ease. You no longer have to constantly worry about the well-being of your aging parent, spouse, or sibling.
If you have any questions about dementia care or assisted living, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to address your questions and put your mind at ease.