The Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living

General Health

The Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living

The Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living

If you’re trying to choose between senior living communities, you may have noticed many choices available. Two of the most common senior care options are assisted living and memory care facilities. Both care options provide medical support to assist with physical and cognitive needs. However, memory care offers more specific services designed for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia which is the primary difference between memory care and assisted living.

For some older adults, an assisted living facility is the best choice. Others may benefit from the extra services found at memory care homes. To help you gain a better understanding of your senior care choices, check out these seven key differences between memory care and assisted living.

Key Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living

1. Memory Care Offers More Cognitive Support

One of the major differences between assisted living and memory care is the type of care provided. Both assisted living and memory care communities feature caregivers that assist with day-to-day needs, such as medication management, nutritional services and activities of daily living. They also offer brain-stimulating activities designed to boost mental wellness. Memory care, however, places a special emphasis on cognitive support.

Since memory loss conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease impact cognitive function, it’s important for patients to stay mentally stimulated. While this won’t eliminate symptoms, it can help manage them by improving mood and relieving stress. For example, at Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes, residents engage in reminiscence activities that encourage them to use their minds and reflect on happy memories.

2. Memory Care Staff Has Specialized Training

Both memory care and assisted living facilities have staff members who support residents throughout the day, such as caregivers, nurses, chefs and managers. In a memory care facility, however, you’ll also find specialized staff trained to manage the unique symptoms of memory loss (such as wandering, communication problems and difficulty swallowing). Many memory care homes also offer counselors who can help families struggling to accept personality changes in their loved ones.

Another important focus of memory care staff is making sure residents don’t feel isolated. Because many older adults with memory loss struggle to communicate, it’s common for them to feel alone. At Cedar Creek, our caregivers learn about every resident, studying everything from their hometowns and families to their interests and accomplishments. This allows us to establish connections with residents and get to know them beyond their medical needs.

3. Memory Care Provides a More Secure Environment

If you’ve ever visited memory care facilities, you may have noticed they tend to have easily navigable, secure layouts. For example, many memory care homes have locked doors, enclosed gardens and video surveillance systems. Because patients with memory loss are prone to wandering, maintaining a secure, simple environment helps promote safety while decreasing confusion among residents.

At Cedar Creek, we deliver a secure atmosphere while also keeping our homes comfortable and cozy. Rather than have a large, institutionalized environment, we maintain small, suburban-like homes that make residents feel they’re joining a community.

Memory care staff undergoing specialized training.

4. Memory Care Prioritizes Routines

In an assisted living residence, a typical resident’s schedule might vary every day. In a memory care community, on the other hand, you’ll usually see a set routine. Memory loss increases confusion, so having a routine helps residents know what to expect (consequently reducing stress and anxiety).

Of course, because dementia symptoms are constantly changing, keeping the same routine can sometimes be difficult. For example, at our senior living community, we aim to create comfortable routines while still adapting to the ever-changing needs of residents.

5. Memory Care Offers Unique Activities

Many assisted living communities offer a bustling activities list that keeps residents engaged. In a large assisted living facility, residents may even be able to create a custom activities schedule and go on community outings.

In a memory care unit, you generally won’t find an expansive selection of activities. Rather, you’ll see more specialized activities that cater to the unique needs of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients while also providing entertainment and socialization opportunities. For example, at Cedar Creek, we offer a few holistic memory care activities that residents are comfortable participating in, such as exercise, music therapy and movie nights.

6. Memory Care Offers Specialized Dining

Dining is a big part of both assisted living and memory care services. Not only do most senior living homes provide three meals a day, but they also cater to allergies and dietary preferences. However, dining services are generally more specialized in memory care settings. Dementia can cause nutrition-related complications, which means it’s extremely important for patients to receive the right diet.

At Cedar Creek, we help ensure all nutritional needs are met through our high-quality dining services. In addition to accommodating personal dietary requirements, we offer family-style dining that promotes socialization. We also have an “open kitchen” concept so that residents are able to see the kitchen and possibly even be involved in the dining process.

7. Memory Care Has More Supportive Services

Whether it’s a memory care home or an assisted living community, moving into senior care is challenging for everyone involved. However, memory care transitions usually have more complications because residents may not understand what’s happening.

To support residents and their family members during this difficult time, many memory care homes offer staff dedicated to providing emotional support. At Cedar Creek, we do everything we can to make the transition seamless and welcome residents to our homes.

Group of seniors doing painting activities at the memory care home.

Contact Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes Today

Are you looking for a memory care home for your loved one? At Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes in Montgomery County, Maryland, we provide secure, cozy environments where residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can age gracefully and get the support they need.

If you’d like to learn more about our dementia patient care services, don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (301) 384-4017. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about memory care, assisted living and the best choice for your loved one.

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