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Assisted Living or Memory Care Communities – Which is a Better Choice?

McNair Dallas Law

long term care ombudsman

Learn about two common senior living types—assisting living and memory care—and how to determine the best care for your elderly parent or spouse.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: Which Is Right for You?” explains that many people are unsure of which type of care is the better choice.  Assisted living is a long-term care community which promotes independence, while providing help with personal care, medication management, or other daily tasks. It often provides a small apartment, housekeeping, community meals and activities.  Assisted living communities may be large, multi-story apartment complexes housing 80 or more residents, medium-sized “neighborhoods” or “pods” with small bedrooms opening onto common living areas, or even converted private homes with just 4-10 residents.

Both Assisted living communities and Memory Care Communities are licensed, regulated, and inspected by the state.  Memory Care Communities or units can be licensed as Assisted Living or as a nursing home.

It’s critical to thoroughly review the support needs and challenges by looking honestly at what’s working and what’s not.

The best candidate for assisted living is a person who needs assistance with their activities of daily living but still has their reasoning skills intact. Residents can enjoy socialization and activities with people their own age. This helps with isolation after spouses and friends are no longer with them.

Assisted living residents frequently require personal care support. However, these seniors are able to communicate their needs. Residents may receive help with taking medicine, bathing, toileting and other activities of daily living, or ADLs.

Memory care communities or units can standalone or can be part of a larger assisted living or nursing care community.  They usually have secured doors, meaning entry and exit doors are locked unless a code is entered. These facilities typically have smaller bedrooms but more available, open and inviting common spaces. Research shows the way memory care facilities are designed can be helpful in easing the stressful transition from home to a long-term care community for individuals with memory loss. This includes softer colors, a lack of clutter and clear signage.

Confusion and memory loss can cause anxiety. That’s why having a predictable routine can help. As dementia progresses, a patient may forget how to do normal activities of daily living, such as brushing their teeth, eating, showering and dressing. Memory care facilities ensure that these needs are met.

A memory care facility typically has a smaller staff-to-patient ratio because an individual suffering from dementia has greater care needs. Staff will frequently undergo additional training in dementia care.  This is the main reason why memory care communities are often more expensive than assisted living communities.

Deciding on the right level of care is just the first step.  Next you will have to decide which community is right for you.  Talking with a Senior Placement Agent can be extremely helpful, and help is provided at no cost to the family looking for care.  Look for an agent who is a member of the National Placement & Referral Alliance to find someone with the highest ethical standards.

Reference: Forbes (Aug. 16, 2021) “Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: Which Is Right for You?”

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