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Memory Care vs. Assisted Living | What’s the Difference?

memory care in glendale

5 Ways Memory Care and Assisted Living Differ

Finding a wonderful senior living community can be frightening, especially if a loved one has a condition that requires an immediate move. Both assisted living and memory care communities offer supportive care to people with health issues and cognitive impairments. 

However, memory care is a bit different in that it caters specifically to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia through specific types of activities and therapies. The staff is extensively trained in cognitive impairments’ physical and psychological effects. 

For some people, it may make better sense to start with assisted living and slowly transition to a higher level of care. But for others, memory care is the immediate option. Read the five main differences between memory care and assisted living below to help you weigh your options.

#1 Staff Experience and Training

Memory care communities and assisted living communities sometimes share similar staff members. However, a higher staff-to-patient ratio is required to care appropriately for persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In assisted living, the friendly team assists patients with activities of daily living, such as helping with bathing, dressing, and medication management. 

In a memory care residence, the specially trained staff assist with ADLs but have more experience with issues facing people with dementia. For example, dementia residents may have swallowing difficulties, wandering, and anxiety issues. 

The staff is trained to master strategies for diffusing distress and disruptive behaviors in residents. This training includes understanding how the disease can manifest, knowing why some patients exhibit certain behaviors, and how to communicate efficiently.

#2 Dining

Assisted living senior care offers meals in a beautiful social setting. A significant emphasis is put on discussion and forming new relationships with neighbors. Memory care provides meals and socialization around the table and offers an environment conducive to independence and dignity. 

Dementia can often make getting good nutrition very complicated. Memory care communities provide specialized nutrient-dense diets to ensure residents eat enough calories for their needs and preferences. Memory care residents are given multiple options to best exercise control over their diet while being served in a less distracting environment. They are even offered adaptive plates or utensils for easier eating.

It’s common for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia to lack appetite. Hence, the chef in memory care prepares meals to address this issue. 

#3 Special Activities

Assisted living focuses on keeping residents active and entertained. Memory care offers specific activities tailored to the cognitive needs of people with dementia. These specialized activities can help your loved one access different brain parts through music, pet, art, taste, and scent therapy.

Memory care also tends to follow a rigid schedule as people with dementia generally do better with daily routines.

#4 Specialized Environment

Dementia care environment is designed to suit those with memory issues and to deal with safety concerns. Assisted living communities do not necessarily offer these extra measures. An assisted living community could be an unsafe environment for someone with dementia. 

Dementia not only affects memory and cognition but also changes the five senses. Therefore the communities offer another level of care featuring safety precautions like door alarms, motion-sensor lights, one-touch sinks, and highly designed lighting. These touches give residents safer living and more independence in long-term care.

Having dementia can sometimes make residents prone to stress. Memory care in Glendale, emphasizes relaxation by creating calming areas featuring a lot of natural light. And unlike assisted living communities, memory care residents do not have individual kitchens in their apartments.

#5 Security

Some assisted living residences have secure areas to accommodate mild dementia. Memory care units emphasize security to prevent patients from wandering. At Terra Pointe Memory Care, we offer a safe space outside where patients can enjoy the outdoors and sunshine but cannot leave the property.

Extra safety measures in memory care include locking up items such as shampoo, laundry detergent, and mouthwash containing alcohol. Generally, safety checks are much more frequent in memory care communities.

Choose What’s Best for You

Some loved ones with early dementia can live well and only need a bit of help. These people may thrive in an assisted living community and may find dementia care too restrictive. 

But, if your loved one struggles with daily functioning, needs daily support, or seems anxious and lonely at home. Then it’s time to give them the gift of memory care. 

If you have questions about memory care vs. assisted living options, please do not hesitate to contact Terra Pointe Memory Care in Glendale, AZ. Please call to learn more about our senior care plans.


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