What is the difference in assisted living and memory care in assisted living?
Once you start looking, you’ll see that sometimes a place is described as a “memory care unit” in an assisted living facility. [Note: There can also be a memory care unit in a skilled nursing facility (nursing home) but this is different than what we will discuss in this article].
So what’s the difference and what are the similarities?
Both “assisted living” and “memory care” is all part of the overall type of care known as assisted living.
So both types of facilities will help with activities of daily living such as:
- Getting up and down out of a chair or out of bed
- Going to the bathroom
- Eating or meal preparation
Your loved one will go to an assisted living or memory care unit to get help with all sorts of activites including the ones described above.
Memory care is for those with serious dementia or Alzheimer’s challenges
In a normal assisted living, the resident is free to come and go as they please. They can leave any time to go shopping, or visit family, etc.
But someone with impaired mental capabilities cannot be allowed to do this. Wandering away is a frequent issue for those suffering from dreaded dementia/Alzheimer’s types of diseases.
So a “memory care” unit will be a secure facility. The doors are locked. This does a number of things:
- Keeps your loved one from wandering away
- Restricts who can come in and interact with your loved one and the other residents
- Allows the freedom to your loved one to wander, especially at night, in a safe and secure environment.
If you have ever cared for a relative with these diseases, you know it is pretty common for them to want to wander. Part of this may be from their confusion and so there is a desire to walk. It can help reduce anxiety. But if they are doing this in your home, they may endanger themselves.
Or they could wander outside in the cold or heat and that can be dangerous.
In a locked secure facility, they can “get the wandering” out so they can be happier.
In a regular assisted living this would not be possible.
One interesting thing is in memory care units, the residents tend to form very strong friendships and look out for each other. While there may be a lot of confusion, normally they get along very well.
Finally, the staff at memory care units are usually very well trained to deal with these types of issues and hopefully they handle them with grace and lots of patience.
So which is better — regular assisted living or memory care?
It really depends.
If your loved one is mentally competent, then regular assisted living would almost certainly be more attractive due to the freedom and social interaction.
But if your loved one is declining mentally and can’t be left alone, then a memory care unit will be the place to look.
We’ll talk in other articles about how to find the right place but in this article, I just wanted to cover this difference between the two.
If we can help you concerning a loved one in Alabama, feel free to contact us.