When you’re looking for a place for your loved one, you may be wondering where to begin. From in-home health care and nursing homes to assisted living and memory care, which is the right one? And what’s the difference?

While it can significantly depend on the level of care you or a loved one needs, some major differences between assisted living and memory care are vital to know and make an educated decision on which is best when the time is right.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a type of senior housing that assists with activities of daily living (ADLs). These include:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Eating
  • Transferring (moving from chair to bed, etc.)

According to the National Center for Assisted Living, there are approximately 28,900 assisted living communities in the U.S with over 1 million residents. That number grows by the day and is often a stepping stone for the next stage of life care— from home hospice to memory care.

Services and amenities vary by community, but many provide three meals a day, laundry and housekeeping services, transportation, social and recreational activities, and access to on-site health care services. They also may provide 24-hour supervisory staff, wellness programs, medication management, and even in-house hair salons, among other necessities.

Who Is Assisted Living For?

Assisted living is designed for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living but don’t necessarily require the around-the-clock skilled nursing care provided in a nursing home.

In most assisted living communities, residents have their own private apartments or rooms and share common areas with other residents, such as dining rooms, recreation rooms, and outdoor spaces. They can maintain more independence than memory care but less than a senior community. They can have access to nursing care if they need it and programs to keep them busy and active.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

Assisted living averages $5,380 a month, according to statistics put together by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). That cost goes into paying for rent, utilities, housekeeping and laundry services, social and recreational activities, transportation, and 24/7 security.

The Benefits of Assisted Living

Assisted living may not be for everyone, especially those who require more enhanced medical care. However, some benefits of assisted living include:

  • More social interaction and opportunities to meet new friends
  • A sense of community
  • Activities and amenities to keep them active and engaged
  • Stimulating environment
  • Customizable care plans
  • An alternative to living at home alone
  • Quick access to emergency medical care should they need it

The Drawbacks of Assisted Living

While assisted living is definitely beneficial for many older adults who need somewhere to live that provides them the assistance they need to keep their independence, they also have some drawbacks.

  • The cost is more expensive than other senior living options
  • A smaller space than they’re used to if coming from a home
  • Less privacy and independence than other senior living options

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care, on the other hand, could be categorized as similar to assisted living, but it has a much bigger emphasis on assisting those with memory loss. This means additional activities, specialty care, and certified caregivers who know how to handle issues associated with memory and forms of dementia. Memory care facilities may help residents with:

  • Maintaining their memory with socializing activities
  • Reminding them to bathe, eat, groom, go to the bathroom
  • Medication management
  • Additional memory therapies such as cognitive exercises

How Much Does Memory Care Cost?

According to AARP and 2021 NIC (National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care) statistics, the average monthly cost for memory care in the United States is $6,935. Memory care is not nearly as expensive as nursing homes or round-the-clock hospice care, which can reach $10,000 or more a month. However, it is still costly because memory care facilities require added security, special programs, more staff-to-patient ratios, and other additional things that increase the costs.

Who Is Memory Care For?

Memory care is meant for people struggling with memory issues from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or traumatic brain injuries. It allows them a place to get the fully dedicated care they require that is specific to their needs associated with memory care. People with dementia may require additional care because they struggle with:

  • Remembering to go to the bathroom
  • Getting up or going to bed due to changes in their internal clock
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Basic bathing and grooming
  • Getting around via a walker or wheelchair
  • Eating and drinking
  • Hallucinating or experiencing panic attacks
  • Both speaking and understanding speech

The Benefits of Memory Care

Memory care is beneficial to those who require specialized care for issues associated with memory. Some benefits include:

  • A safe and secure environment
  • Activities designed to keep the mind active
  • Specialized staff who are trained to handle memory issues
  • Stimulating social interaction
  • Care tailored to the individual’s needs

The Drawbacks of Memory Care

Memory care, like assisted living, has some drawbacks that potential residents or their families should keep in mind. These include:

  • Very expensive
  • It can be a difficult transition for the patients
  • Requires more round-the-clock care
  • As memory declines, the amount of care required can change rapidly
  • There isn’t always availability in certain memory programs— you may have to shop around a bit

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

We’ve laid out a lot of the major pros and cons of each type of facility. And while there is a lot of overlap like the types of care offered, nurses available, and residents get their own apartments; there are some major differences:

  • Assisted living is often optional and an alternative choice to senior communities, nursing homes, or at-home care.
  • Memory care is more often necessary for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s or recovering from severe brain injury.
  • Assisted living is often less expensive, while memory care is at least $1,000 additional per month.
  • Besides traumatic brain injuries, memory care could be required after assisted living as dementia worsens and residents need more intensive care.

Choose Sunflower Communities for Your Memory Care Needs

If you’re looking for a memory care facility that offers the best possible care for your loved one, look no further than Sunflower Communities. We provide top-notch care for our residents and tailor our programs to meet their specific needs. Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a tour.