When an elderly loved one can no longer take care of him or herself, you may be faced with the difficult decision of finding a dedicated caregiver. For most people, the option of assisted living immediately comes to mind. However, there are a few situations in which a memory care facility may actually be a better option for your loved one than assisted living.
Many people are unclear about the difference between assisted living and memory care–which stands to reason; until you’re put in a position where you need to explore caregiving options for a loved one you may not feel the need to.
Assisted Living Defined
Most seniors will require assisted living at some point in their lives; essentially, assisted living refers to professional help with completing everyday activities. The services offered in an assisted living facility are tailored to meet each senior’s needs, but some common services included are:
Help with bathing and dressing
Making sure medications are taken
Assistance with meals
Assisted living facilities offer accommodations in the form of a private apartment, room, or shared space – depending on the senior’s preferences and budget.
Memory Care Defined
Memory care services typically cover everything included in a standard assisted living home, but go beyond that to also include treatment for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and similar problems that affect the memory. Some assisted living facilities will have a separate wing or section of the building dedicated to housing those in memory care. There are also memory care facilities entirely devoted to creating a home atmosphere to support a loved one’s memory care needs.
Benefits of Memory Care Communities
If your loved one suffers from a memory condition, a memory care home can prove extremely beneficial. In a dedicated memory care community (rather than an assisted living home with a “memory care” wing), you can rest assured that your loved one will receive the professional care that he or she needs from experienced caregivers who are specifically trained to care for persons with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory conditions.
Memory Care vs. Assisted Living Costs
Cost is a common concern among those looking to get their loved ones the help they need with assisted living or memory care. It’s important to realize that numerous factors can influence the total costs of each service, though memory care tends to cost more due to the higher level of specialized care provided. Other cost-influencing factors include:
Size of living space
The average cost of assisted living is approximately $3,500 per month.1 Memory care services, on the other hand, tend to cost closer to $7,000 per month.2 Fortunately, there are assistance plans available for those having trouble affording the care they need.
How to Choose between Memory Care and Assisted Living
When determining whether your elderly loved one needs either assisted living or memory care, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions before making a decision. For starters, consider your loved one’s level of physical competence when it comes to caring for him or herself. If he or she hasn’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and doesn’t appear to have any major memory issues, then basic assisted living will likely suffice. Assisted living is designed for those whose assistance needs are primarily physical.
On the other hand, if your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another condition affecting memory, then a memory care facility will be best. Even if your loved one hasn’t been diagnosed with an official memory condition but has shown signs of fading memory (or family history shows a high risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia), this is probably the best choice for him or her.
About Memory Care, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Living Arrangements
Every memory care facility will vary slightly in their offerings. When your loved one receives professional memory care, you should expect:
Memory preservation exercises
Access to necessary medical care
Memory care facilities also work to minimize instances of wandering or getting lost, as their building layouts are very straight-forward and simple.