Is someone you care for living with memory loss? As a caregiver, it can be a heavy burden to bear, especially if your loved one is in denial of their disease and unable to care for themselves like they used to.

Talking to someone living with memory loss about attending a memory care environment vs. an assisted living environment can be challenging. Quite often, they are reluctant to try new things. But there are a lot of benefits—not just for the person living with memory loss, but also for the caregiver.

How do you know which option is right for you and your loved one? It all depends on the quality and quantity of care the person living with memory loss needs, as well as the challenges that lie in the future.

What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

While a memory care environment and an assisted living environment both share basic living services such as daily tasks, personal care, and lodging, there are specific differences.

For example, a memory care environment has a setting that is designed to give people a sense of calmness and security. It also provides programs to help with cognitive and physical development and improve sensory challenges that memory loss can cause.

An assisted living environment can also provide services for those dealing with the early stages of memory loss diseases; however, this type of care environment is designed to offer a limited form of assisted living in these cases and may not specialize in memory loss.

When researching assisted living and memory care in your local area, remember to focus on the provided care, staff qualifications, living arrangements, meal options, and the security.

We have compiled a list of the major differences between assisted living versus memory care below.

Factors Assisted Living Memory Care
Training of the Staff
  • Regular but limited nursing care
  • Little to no experience with dementia patients
  • Policies do not include specialized training for dementia patients
  • Staffing ratio is based on purchased package for the assisted living facility
  • Specialized training in the psychological and physical effects of cognitive impairments and dementia needs such as anxiety, confusion, wandering, and difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • High staff to patient ratio for a more customized care
  • 24-hour highly trained compassionate care from staff that understands all dementia care needs
  • 24-hour Licensed Nursing
Specialized Activities
  • Group social activities and self-lead activities for social needs
  • Based on independent living structure for self-entertainment
  • Daily living programs
  • Encouragement of participation
  • Seamless activities
  • Failure-free, success-oriented activities
  • Reminiscence activities to stimulate memory of people and places
  • Restaurant-style dining with limited menu options
  • Eating assistance when required
  • Simplified options, such as finger foods available
  • Diets for the body and mind health
  • Support and assistance during meal as needed
  • Judgement-free, dining environment without distractions to avoid confusion
Specialized Environment
  • Apartment-style
  • Amenities are self-directed with limited supervision
  • Circular structure design to avoid confusion
  • High-contrast environment for depth perception issues such as no shadows and colour-coded areas
  • Shared common amenities
  • No isolation
  • Low to no security
  • 24-hour security and monitoring
  • Secured building including motion sensors designed for memory and judgement lapses
  • Motion sensors used in every room for ongoing monitoring of support needs
  • Pre-structured programs often scripted based on generic research
  • Group instructed with limited personalized care
  • Art and music therapy focused on cognitive skills
  • Cognitive and physical fitness programs
  • Pet therapy
  • Starting at based rate for room and board
  • Additional fees apply for care (a la carte care)
  • Mobility assistance has extra costs
  • Separate nursing and medication Management fees
  • Additional fees for tray service or deliveries to rooms
  • One set cost for room and board, care, and therapies based on assessed level of care
Focus on Cognitive Decline
  • Early stages of dementia and basic physical care
  • All programs, therapies, and interactions based on cognitive decline
  • Focus is on all stages of dementia
  • Management of responsive behaviours often associated with cognitive decline

When it comes to the safety and caring of a loved one who may require some form of assistance, it is best to consider all the factors. A person who is independent in most daily chores and tasks but may need a form of assistance due to limited mobility, for example, may benefit from assisted living. These environments often provide entertainment rooms for arts and crafts, music sing-a-longs, and transportation to off-site locations.

For those with signs of cognitive decline, there are services and programs within a memory care environment that will help to engage the person mentally, physically, and socially. Programs and services are designed for customized care and specialized therapies and care techniques to improve the quality of life for people living with memory loss. No one should ever feel isolated or shunned because of a limited ability to function in any way.

Signs of cognitive decline include, but are not limited to, increasing confusion, becoming lost in familiar surroundings, needing assistance with daily tasks, and the ever-increasing need for supervision. If your loved one requires support with day-to-day living and is apprehensive of being on their own, they may benefit from memory care.

Choose Memory & Company’s Respite Hotel Service for Memory Care

At Memory & Company, we focus our compassion and care on the person AND the caregivers. Our friendly and certified team offers up-to-date programs and technology to provide customized care to everyone. For the Member, we use research-based cognitive and physical programs to promote the slowing of memory loss. For the caregiver, we recognize the signs of burnout and provide a supportive, safe, and empathetic environment for everyone. Our Respite Hotels are free from judgement and guilt for the Member and the caregiver.

With Memory & Company’s respite hotel service and day programs, there is no formal diagnosis or medical referral required. Contact us today to see how our knowledgeable staff can help you and your loved one refresh, recharge, and prepare to meet each day with a renewed sense of being.