The Arbor Company Senior Living Blog

Can My Parent Go into Assisted Living Instead of Memory Care?

Jul 7, 2020 2:19:00 PM / Chris Harper Chris Harper

Can My Parent Go Into Assisted Living Instead of Memory Care?

When you begin to explore senior living options in your area, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Though the sheer volume of choices available to older adults today can be confusing, seniors are fortunate to have a multitude of solutions readily available to meet their needs and challenges. Decades ago, senior living communities were not as diverse or focused on maintaining wellness.

Two common types of senior living communities are assisted living and memory care. These two options share enough similarities for family members to often wonder which is the best for their loved ones. Though each situation is unique and should be evaluated as such, there are some indicators that could help point you in the right direction.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are designed to offer a retirement lifestyle with extra supports to keep residents healthy, safe, and happy. Ideal for seniors who could use a helping hand from a professional caregiver throughout the day, assisted living communities feature amenities like:

  • Three chef-prepared meals served daily in a social dining room setting
  • Engaging activities, events, concerts, and trips offered daily
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Access to wellness activities and resources
  • Transportation services to and from places around town, such as doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and favorite local spots

Regulated by the state department of public health, assisted living communities have caregivers on staff round the clock. They are there to offer assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or getting from one place to another. Caregivers are supported by nurses who are there to manage medication and help communicate with physicians as needed.

What Is Memory Care?

Typically nestled inside of an assisted living community, a memory care neighborhood was designed especially for older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. These neighborhoods, sometimes called dementia care neighborhoods, were designed down to the last detail to support independence, quality of life, and comfort for their residents. 

Features of a memory care neighborhood can include:

  • Specially trained staff members who learn dementia-specific information about the disease process and how to perform interventions
  • Three chef-prepared meals served three times daily in a social (yet not overstimulating) family-style dining room
  • Events, activities, and trips offered daily that are failure-free, comforting, and offer just the right amount of stimulation
  • Personal laundry and housekeeping services
  • Family education sessions and support groups

Determining Which Option to Choose

If you are weighing the options of assisted living and memory care, begin with your loved one’s diagnosis. If you or your loved one does not have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, then eliminate memory care from your current interest list. Instead, assisted living will offer you or your loved one just the right amount of personalized support and socialization.

If you or your loved one does have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, memory care is likely the best option for your future needs. However, you or your loved one may still be in the early stages of the disease, making assisted living a viable short-term solution for retirement. Just keep in mind that dementia is a progressive disease, and so a move to memory care will likely be in the future.

To provide the right amount of support, exceptional senior living communities are offering specialized programs for residents who live in assisted living but are also living through the early stages of cognitive decline. These specialized groups offer support, encouragement, and socialization designed to bridge the gap between assisted living and memory care. This is an excellent option for seniors who are living through the beginning stages of dementia.


Learn more about assisted living by downloading our free resource, “The Complete Guide to Assisted Living.”

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Topics: Memory care, Understanding Assisted Living

Chris Harper

Chris Harper

As the vice president of communications for The Arbor Company, Chris is responsible for digital marketing, public relations, technology and design.

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