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Assisted Living versus Memory Care: What Are the Differences?

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

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The Birches 4-23-24_Assisted Living versus Memory Care What Are the Differences

When a loved one has cognitive issues and needs more help than they can get at home, many families realize the best solution is to move to senior living. The next decision is whether assisted living or memory care is the best fit. When considering assisted living versus memory care, here’s what to know before choosing.

Differences in type of care

When assessing assisted living versus memory care start by determining the type and level of care needed. Although both have a lot in common, there are a few crucial differences. In assisted living, members can expect help with typical daily tasks like dressing, bathing, and medication management, as well as assistance with mobility, if needed.

In memory care, however, members may need the same help but at a higher level. For example, they may need help choosing weather-appropriate clothes or help to do even simple personal hygiene tasks like brushing their teeth and using the toilet. Those with memory loss may also need to be prompted to eat or use appropriate utensils, encouraged to hydrate, and often require oversight so they stay engaged. For a look at what The Birches has to offer our article, “What Is Memory Care? Your Complete Guide to Memory Care” breaks it down.

Differences in lifestyle

Comparing assisted living versus memory care should also consider lifestyle. Again, each has lifestyle aspects in common but differences, as well. 

As noted in our blog, “What You Can Expect in Assisted Living,” members can anticipate a carefree and independent lifestyle with the added benefits of a close community of friends. Assisted living members are free to come and go as they please and enjoy amenities like exercise classes, games, and fun events and excursions. They are also encouraged to pursue their own hobbies, join clubs and be active participants in the community at large without restrictions. 

The lifestyle in memory care also includes plenty of engaging and healthy activities and events, but all within a structured environment. Dementia experts work to create a routine with each memory care member so they feel as in control and independent as possible. For example, our blog, “Benefits of Memory Care - Helping Individuals with Dementia Maintain Independence,” defines how our Montessori Methods promotes person-centered care that helps our team members know each member, work with them to maximize their skills through simplified activities and make life more fulfilling.

Differences in therapies

Though not available in every senior living community, another key to contrasting assisted living versus memory care is the types of therapies provided. At The Birches we offer therapies to our assisted living members that include rehabilitation following an illness or injury, as well as a range of comprehensive physical, occupational and speech therapies to meet the individual needs of members and their physicians.

These are also available in memory care, with the addition of special therapies designed specifically for those with memory loss. Among the many facets of our purposeful programming, The Birches’ memory care offers art therapy, music therapy, music and memory programs, and comfort dogs. Our goal is to help each member retain their independence and continue to find joy in life despite the challenges of dementia. Find out more ways to evaluate assisted living versus memory care in our article, “Living a Full Life with Memory Loss.

Differences in safety and security

Safety and security are essential in both assisted living and memory care, but when considering assisted living versus memory care, it’s important to know how they differ. At The Birches, our entire assisted living community is designed to be accessible throughout, from apartments to communal spaces indoors and outdoors. At the same time, our members’ private apartments are just that — private — so whether they are at home or away they know their home is safe and secure.

And while safety is often similar in both assisted and memory care, security in memory care should be much greater. When comparing assisted living versus memory care, keep in mind that memory care members require a higher level of oversight.  Be sure to ask what special routine protections are in place for memory care to be sure you are making the right choice. 

One of the most important precautions is that memory care members are not able to come and go from the community at will.  This is done to ensure they cannot wander away and become lost or injured.  In addition to our secure environment, The Birches also features additional safeguards within our memory community that are coordinated through our unique silent paging  Vigil Memory Care System. Find out how we prioritize safety and security in our blog, “Safety & Security: The Peace of Mind Senior Living Communities Provide.”

Consider this...

With all this information in mind, sometimes families are still challenged in determining which would be the best supportive environment for their loved one. That’s when it’s important to think beyond the person you’ve known your entire life and think realistically about your loved ones’ true needs.
•    Are there safety concerns?
•    Has wayfinding been an issue?
•    What happened that made you decide to explore senior living?

None of these are an automatic determining factor as to whether a person would be best suited for one environment over another, but it does help put the picture together and ensure that you are choosing in their best interest.  Knowing you have chosen a path for what your loved one truly needs to set them up for success will make you feel more confident in your decision and do just that - set everyone up for success.

And keep in mind that the team of the community you choose should be able to give you objective guidance to make sure that you are choosing the best option for your loved one.  Their advice might not always be what you want to hear, but keep in mind that this is their area of expertise.  At The Birches, it is important to us to make sure our members are set up to succeed.  That is why our Director of Nursing works with families to determine the final decision as to which setting would be best.  Our families share that this practice gives them greater peace of mind in knowing that the decision is care based not sales based.  

Contact us for help and to schedule a tour of our beautiful community.