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Differences Between Memory Care and Assisted Living | CedarStone Senior Living

Apr 21, 2022

Assisted Living or Memory Care: Which Is the Right Choice?

Senior living offers older adults an array of choices and provides levels of care that meet the individual needs of residents. Senior living communities like CedarStone offer several levels of care on a single campus. Still, making a decision about what kind of care is best for your family member can be difficult. 

This guide provides a clear picture of what you can expect from both assisted living and memory care. Continue reading to learn more about the particular benefits of each level of care and how they compare to one another. With this information, you and your loved one can decide which type of senior living serves you best.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living provides residents with personal care and allows them to live with as much independence as possible. This residential, long-term care offers 24-hour home health to older adults who require support with activities of daily living.

Activities of daily living are classified into the following categories:

  • Feeding
  • Dressing
  • Continence
  • Personal hygiene
  • Ambulating
  • Toileting

“At CedarStone Assisted Living, we work closely with residents and their families to create a comprehensive care plan that meets a resident’s individual needs. We listen closely to what is important to you and customize your care plan to meet your specific needs,” said Jacob Wolfgang, Director of Development at Nelson Construction and Development. 

Personal care offered to residents includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Medication management
  • Transferring 
  • Catheter care
  • Coumadin management
  • Nebulizer treatment
  • Monitoring vital signs

Assisted living residences are set up to accommodate seniors with limited mobility to make daily tasks easier to complete independently. The trained staff, along with an intentionally designed home, create a safe environment for older adults who need this extra support.

Who Does Assisted Living Best Serve?

When an older adult begins to experience a decline in their functional abilities, they often start relying on a caregiver. In some cases, this is a workable situation. In others, it leads to caregiver burnout

Common reasons that older adults move into assisted living are: 

  • The amenities, activities and social opportunities are appealing, especially when their mobility and ability to transport themselves from their home is limited. 
  • They need 24-hour support to safely navigate activities of daily living.
  • Their caregiver is experiencing burnout. 

Some older adults transition to assisted living in response to an immediate need. Others make a proactive decision to take advantage of the high quality of life and ensure future care at a senior living community like CedarStone.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care is another residential, long-term care option that offers 24-hour support, assistance with ADLs, and support for health care needs. What differentiates memory care from assisted living is that they also provide specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

Memory care services help seniors with memory loss treat their cognitive impairments with high-quality treatments. The physical layout of memory care residences also helps these seniors navigate their surroundings safely. 

Common therapies provided by memory care include: 

“Residents at CedarStone Memory Care receive therapeutic services through Awakenings Memory Care Program. Awakenings is collaborative care that acknowledges and empowers the patient. With this therapy, we’ve seen quality of life improvements like increased alertness, better mobility and boosts in mood,” said Kersten Fisher, Executive Director at CedarStone.

Services provided at memory care facilities include but are not limited to:

  • 24/7 assistance and safety checks
  • Specially tailored and inclusive activities
  • Assistance accessing community resources
  • Coordination of outside health services
  • Household upkeep and maintenance
  • Three prepared meals each day
  • Health care and support services to meet individual needs

Who Does Memory Care Best Serve?

When an older adult is in the early stages of dementia, their needs may be fully met at an assisted living facility. However, when a senior enters the later stages of their disease, dementia care may be a necessity. In this case, moving to a memory care facility can make a huge difference to their day-to-day life. 

The innovative therapies offered at a memory care community can be life-changing for a resident living with dementia. It can reawaken them to life experiences they might be missing out on now.    

However, if a patient has severe health care needs or isn’t ambulatory, they may not be a great fit for memory care. They may instead require the services of a skilled nursing facility. While health care needs are addressed in memory care, there are certain situations where a resident would be better served in a clinical environment.   

What Are the Key Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

Maybe you’re still struggling to envision the different experiences your loved one will have in these long-term residential placements. Here are three differences that can help you determine what is right for your family member:

  • Staff Training: At both assisted living and memory care facilities, your loved one will be cared for by trained professionals. However, memory care providers are equipped with knowledge and strategies to implement specialized programming designed to treat dementia. 
  • Safety Measures: Many assisted living facilities have 24-hour supervision by staff, but memory care facilities often implement more extensive safety measures. For example, hallways and corridors are often color-coded, and outdoor areas are gated.
  • Therapies and Activities: Senior living communities offer wellness activities to keep seniors active and engaged no matter what level of care they’re receiving. In assisted living, opportunities are focused on socialization and personal growth. With memory care, the emphasis is on therapeutic activities. 

Questions To Ask To Determine if Your Loved One Is Ready for Memory Care

A typical dilemma for caregivers and seniors is determining whether dementia symptoms are severe enough for memory care. Here are some questions to consider as you make your decision:

  • Could my loved one benefit from specialized memory care and therapies?
  • Is my family member’s safety at risk due to their dementia?
  • Does my loved one need 24-hour supervision?
  • Does my family member exhibit signs of sundown syndrome?
  • Has my loved one forgotten to close doors or turn off stovetops?
  • Is my family member’s judgment impaired to the degree that their physical safety is at risk?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to look into memory care options for your loved one.

CedarStone: This Is Living!

CedarStone Senior Living is a community nestled in the Greenhill Village Estates neighborhood in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We offer both Assisted Living and Memory Care for our residents. We’d love to consult with you about your loved one’s needs and help you determine the next steps in their care.