Assisted Living vs Memory Care: A Comparison
Choosing a suitable senior care facility for your parent(s) is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make. This is because the quality of the facility directly affects your loved one’s quality of life as they navigate dementia and other challenges associated with aging. For many people, the decision comes down to a dedicated memory care community or general assisted living facility.
The differences between general assisted living vs. dedicated memory care can be quite broad, so you need to ensure you understand how they work to make an informed choice.
One of the significant differences between these living options is that memory care facilities provide specialized care for people with dementia. In contrast, assisted living offers general support and assistance for the elderly. “Assisted Living” is a broad category of senior living facilities, while memory care serves a specific population. Most memory care facilities are licensed as “Assisted Living”, but only care for those with memory loss.
This guide on Assisted LIving vs Memory Care will teach you the essential things you need to know about memory care vs assisted living.
3 Key Differences of Assisted Living vs Memory Care
At face value, memory care and assisted living appears to be the same. However, a deep dive into their specializations and functions reveals several differences between these types of senior living communities.
1. Different types of staff training
Because of the nature of a memory care community, its staff gets specialized training in caring for people with dementia. For example, at The Breckinridge, we train our staff members in the best practices for dementia care. Memory care staff also undergo additional instruction to help stay updated on disease-related behaviors, communication techniques and focusing on residents’ strengths rather than weaknesses.
Like a memory care facility, assisted living has trained caregivers with knowledge of senior care. However, they rarely have the expertise needed to care for people with dementia especially Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Each offers it own specialized activities
In an assisted living community, residents participate in different activities to entertain them, such as ice-cream socials or parties.
On the other hand, memory care encourages residents to participate in music therapy and specific physical exercises like gardening that help people with dementia stay engaged, social, and a genuine part of the community.
3. Environment and housing setup
Because of the nature of dementia, safety is a significant concern in memory care communities.
Typically, memory care facilities in Lexington have functionally designed spaces that provide extra safety for people with dementia. The Breckinridge has color-coded walls, simple layouts, and defined spaces. This allows residents to easily move around without getting lost or hurt.
While assisted living communities offer basic security measures like in-room emergency alert systems, they do not provide these extra safety precautions necessary for residents with dementia. This can make it unsafe for elderly parents living with memory conditions.
Assisted Living vs Memory Care Costs
When it’s time to select a specialized memory care facility or general assisted living facility for your parent, pricing may come into play. So, how does memory care compare to assisted living in terms of pricing?
Here are a few things you should know.
How much does Assisted Living Cost?
The median cost for an assisted living facility is about $4,300 a month and may vary based on location and the types of services they provide. In many instances, a facility in a large city costs more than one in a smaller town or rural area.
Generally, assisted living communities charge a base monthly fee covering three meals for residents, transportation to and from medical checkups, housekeeping, physical activities, and live-in room and board.
How much does Memory Care cost?
Since memory care facilities offer specialized care and enhanced services, they cost more than general assisted living communities. Most memory care facilities charge between $4,000 to $8,000 a month, with the median cost about $5,200, and varies based on location. In spite of a higher cost, the value of services and care far exceed that of assisted living facilities.
What Services Can I Expect with Assisted Living vs Memory Care?
As mentioned earlier, memory care specializes in caring for people with dementia, while assisted living provides day-to-day support for the elderly who can go about their activities independently.
Services Covered by Assisted Living
An assisted living facility will provide support for your loved one across the following areas:
- Minor over site with some ADLs (Activities of Daily Living)
- Meal services
- Medication management
- Care coordination
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Exercise classes
- Transportation to appointments
Services Covered by Memory Care
Memory care provides similar services as assisted living facilities, with the addition of specialized focus for someone with memory loss and disease-related behaviors.
These services include:
- Assisting with all ADLs
- Meal service and assistance as needed
- Medication management and oversite
- Care coordination and follow up
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Exercise classes
- 24-hour care and supervision
- Secured entrances and exits to prevent wandering
- Memory-enhanced therapies
- High staff-to-resident ratio
- Unique layouts to reduce confusion
- Activities specifically focused for dementia
How to Choose Between Assisted Living vs Memory Care
Choosing between assisted living and memory care isn’t a decision you should make lightly or quickly. Ultimately, there are several things you need to consider before opting for a general assisted living facility over specialized memory care and vice versa.
For instance, if your loved one shows signs of cognitive decline, you should consider finding a home for them in a memory care community. On the other hand, assisted living may be best if memory loss is not an immediate concern.
Cognitive decline behaviors you should look out for in your elderly parents or loved one include:
- When your loved one starts getting lost in familiar places
- When your loved one requires assistance and lots of directions for their daily tasks
- When your loved one requires mobility assistance
- Withdrawal from interactions or socializing
- When your loved one needs assistance with medications
- When your loved one 24-hour supervision
Another thing you should consider is the level of independence and socialization that your family member displays. If your parents are pretty independent, then assisted living is a great choice. However, memory care is a more specialized option for people with immediate memory loss concerns who aren’t capable of independent living independently.
Assisted Living vs Memory Care FAQs
Assisted Living vs Memory Care: A Simple Comparison Chart
The median cost for an assisted living facility is about $4,300 a month based on location and the types of services they provide.
Typically, memory care facilities charge between $4,000 to $8,000 or more as a monthly fee. Though this is higher than Assisted Living it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The benefits received with a memory care facility far outweigh those for an assisted living facility.
Assisted living facilities have several activities like ice cream parties that engage and entertain residents.
Memory care communities offer specialized and therapeutic activities that improve the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional abilities of residents with dementia.
Caregivers in an assisted living community undergo training on the best care practices for the elderly.
Memory care staff undergo continual and specific training on how to care for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Who is it for?
An assisted living community is for older adults who can live independently, to an extent.
Memory care is for people living with mid to later stages of some form of dementia.
Safety and Security
An assisted living facility offers basic security measures.
Because of the cognitive challenges faced by someone with dementia, a memory care facility observes advanced safety precautions.
Both memory care and assisted living are viable care options for your loved one. However, for people with dementia, a memory care community is better positioned to give them the long-term care and support they need to improve and maintain their quality of life.
At The Breckinridge, we created the look and feel of a real home to help your loved ones with dementia enjoy better lives.
Contact us today to learn more about our specialized memory care community. We’ve been caring for seniors since 1999.
Come see why The Breckinridge is the best memory care facility in Lexington.