Navigating the senior living industry can feel a bit overwhelming at first. At first glance, there are so many options for care and your loved one will likely need more care as they age. If you are seeking living options for a loved one with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or other another type of dementia, memory care living is often the best case scenario. However, assisted living communities can often seem appealing as well, especially if extra services are available to keep your loved one engaged and safe. How can you tell which option is the best for you? Check out these differences between memory care and assisted living communities.
Memory care communities and assisted living communities both share similar staff, such as nurses and nursing assistants. However, memory care communities boast staff that has been been trained in the nuances of memory care. Staff working in memory care communities, from the administrator to the housekeepers, are required by most states to attend extended training classes that include topics ranging from the science of dementia to empathy activities aimed to demonstrate what it is like living with the disease.
While assisted living communities do often offer a calendar of activities for residents, memory care communities up the ante with resident engagement by offering a routinized day full of socialization activities that keep residents calm, happy, and stimulated. Seniors living with dementia often exhibit expressive behaviors when they are anxious or worried; properly timed activities and other leisure opportunities can prevent these expressions of worry, instead keeping seniors busy and involved with their environment.
Assisted living communities offer three meals per day, often in a wonderfully social setting. Memory care communities not only offer meals and socialization around the table, but also offer an environment that is conducive to independence and dignity for those living with dementia. Often times, a diagnosis of dementia can lead to complications with nutrition. Memory care communities offer specialized diets that are geared to assure that residents are eating the calories they need, in a way that best suits their current needs and preferences. Residents are given multiple choices so that they can best exercise control over their diet, while being served in an environment that is less distracting and with adaptive plates or utensils.
Memory care communities also offer an environment that is specially suited to the needs, and safety concerns, for those with memory and judgment issues. Assisted living communities do not offer these extra measures, which can result in an otherwise unsafe environment for someone with dementia. Memory care communities feature safety precautions such as door alarms, as well as environmental considerations such as motion sensored lights or one-touch sinks. These extra touches not only allow residents to have a safer living experience, but also one that best allows for independence.
Finally, memory care communities offer specialized services tailor made for memory care residents. Additional housekeeping services, advanced nursing care options, dietician support, and social work services can be beneficial to residents and family alike. Further, memory care communities can provide peer support groups for family members as well as family-resident events held to encourage meaningful connections that transcend the dementia experience.
When looking for memory care for a loved one, it is best to stick with communities that are equipped to handle the unique challenges of dementia.