Assisted living facilities are designed for relatively independent seniors, and memory care communities are designed for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. While each of these communities provides health and wellness services and a range of activities, let’s take a look at what makes them unique from one another.
Assisted living communities are long-term residential care facilities designed for older adults who cannot, or choose not to, live independently. These facilities are typically designed for independent seniors who may need assistance with daily tasks. Assisted living is ideal for those looking to make the most of retirement by living closely with people in the same stage of life while getting quality care and activities.
A typical assisted living home offers 24-hour personal care and monitoring, as well as various support services, such as medication administration, laundry, and transportation. Also, assisted living homes provide help with daily activities such as housekeeping, dressing, bathing, cooking, shopping, and paying bills. Residents can also rely on three meals a day and at-home health services when necessary.
Assisted living facilities offer shared or private living accommodations. Residents are encouraged to bring furniture and personal items to make their new space feel like home. The facility provides a safe and clean living space for each resident, where their unique needs are met. These facilities give seniors autonomy based on their health complications, which can be determined by a health assessment.
Assisted living facilities include a wide range of social activities:
These communities are great at keeping seniors socially engaged, making their quality of life significantly better because they don’t have to worry about isolation. And they keep a steady routine to meet their hobbies and interests.
Memory care facilities are a form of senior living that provides intensive, specialized care for people with memory issues. Many assisted living facilities have created memory care units for dementia patients, but there are also stand-alone memory care facilities. Typically, these facilities feature safe and secure environments where staff can closely monitor the residents’ health. Similar to assisted living facilities, memory care communities provide quality services such as housekeeping, supplying medication, bathing, and meals, but there are aspects of memory care that aren’t done in assisted living.
Often memory care facilities feature unique layouts to assist navigation. This means flowing floor plans, so residents don’t feel like they’re pacing back and forth. And color-coded and spacious hallways, which help accommodate seniors with both early and late stages of dementia.
Many memory care communities keep exterior doors secured 24 hours a day, along with enhanced security to prevent wandering. Doorbells are on the entrances and exits to monitor who comes and goes, and emergency alert systems and keypad entry are common. Enclosed courtyards are also built so residents can freely explore the grounds while remaining safe.
Each resident’s apartment feels like a private home with easy-to-navigate floor plans and personalized memorabilia throughout, including memory boxes outside the resident’s door to make them feel secure and comfortable.
Staff is trained to provide the quality care needed for seniors with memory loss. Using an individualized approach, the staff is able to incorporate the specific needs and interests into a care plan for each memory care facility resident. Personalized care increases safety by promoting familiarity and reducing confusion. Staff receives ongoing training to remain up-to-date on new research and training necessary to care for residents with memory loss.
Memory care facilities follow a gentle daily structure. This encourages social interaction, reduces anxiety, and stimulates the brain to inspire feelings of accomplishment. It’s essential to avoid overstimulation, so a standard routine would be that exercise classes are given before breakfast when residents can manage more stimulation, and between 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., residents would engage in quieter activities, such as art classes or music programs.
A selection of therapies is provided at memory care communities. Matching residents with treatments they enjoy can slow cognitive decline and memory loss. Dementia therapies soothe and stimulate each of the five senses, which addresses memory loss, wandering, and agitation. Dementia treatments are based on individual needs, but common treatments include:
Maintaining independence is essential for many people as they age. While losing it can be one of the biggest fears for seniors, assisted living and memory care communities each find their way to provide that independence that so many of our senior loved ones desire. As much as these communities may differ in the elder care and activities provided, they strive to make sure their residents are taken care of and socially engaged.