Choosing Memory Care or Assisted Living
While the majority of older adults will eventually require long-term care, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, choosing the right living option can be complicated.
Two of the most popular choices for older adults and their families are assisted living and memory care communities. But, before helping your older client select an appropriate option, it’s important to explain the benefits of each.
What Are Assisted Living Communities?
An assisted living community is a great option for someone in the earliest stages of a memory condition like dementia. At this stage, most older adults need support with some activities of daily living (ADLs) but still have some independence. In an assisted living community, residents live in a private or shared apartment where staff is available 24/7 for assistance. For example, if you have a client who enjoys socializing and exercising but needs help with preparing meals and getting to and from doctors’ appointments, they may benefit from assisted living.
What Are Memory Care Communities?
An older adult with dementia who requires skilled care and a higher level of supervision would benefit from memory care. A memory care area may be in its own wing within an assisted living community, or it may be a stand-alone. Residents receive 24/7 supervision from a staff of caregivers who are specially trained to help those with dementia. If your client has difficulty with personal care and becomes easily confused and agitated, they may benefit from memory care.
Choosing Assisted Living or Memory Care
Here are additional factors to consider when determining if assisted living or memory care is the best option:
- Harm to self or others. If your client poses a threat to themselves or others, then memory care is often the best option as it provides the supervision they need.
- Wandering. As dementia progresses, the risk for wandering also increases. Elopement is very dangerous for older adults, because they may become lost in an area where no one can guide them back home. Some assisted living communities provide safety features that can prevent this, but, if wandering is a major concern, then memory care may be necessary.
- Specialized caregiver training. Staff at both assisted living and memory care communities are trained to support residents with ADLs. However, memory care staff also receive detailed training for caring for those with all stages of a variety of dementia forms including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body dementia.
- Specialized programming. Assisted living communities may offer amenities that residents can access without formal supervision: gym, library, craft studio, salon/barbershop, etc. Memory care communities offer amenities specifically geared toward those with more advanced dementia: enclosed gardens and memory-enhancing therapies.
Ultimately, most older adults with dementia who begin in assisted living will transfer to memory care. This can be a tough subject for your older clients and their families. Before you start that conversation, reach out to your partner in care - CarePatrol. As senior placement advisors, we understand the aging process and how health, social and financial issues work together and influence outcomes. Plus, we have expert experience with these sensitive situations as CarePatrol has helped thousands of older adults and their families find safer senior living. Learn more by visiting www.carepatrol.com and finding the advisor nearest you.