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Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: 5 Key Differences




The transition from an able-bodied, occupied youth to a senile era of limitations can be a difficult one for you and your elderly family members. The changes that creep into our loved ones’ lives with age cannot be prevented, but we can make sure that they receive the best care possible. 

This is why a great many senior living communities have been set up across Michigan with the sole intent of providing an amenable community where seniors can be taken care of without giving up on their independence. 

Types of senior homes

  1. Independent living facilities

For seniors who are fit and prefer to live on their own terms away from families. 

  1. Assisted living facilities 

Designed for citizens who require some degree of professional assistance

  1. Memory care facilities

Professionally crafted living programs for individuals with Dementia and Alzheimers. 

  1. Enhanced living facilities

A luxurious and independent living experience for post-retirement seniors. 

Why choose senior living facilities?

  1. Better care

Most senior care homes are run by trained personnel who can provide tailored physical, emotional and mental care.

  1. Chance to socialize

Senior communities comprise of people of the same age group who are great at understanding the challenges aging brings. 

  1. Greater independence

Most senior care facilities encourage independence and allow seniors to live however they wish without the fear of judgment or maltreatment.  

5 major differences between assisted living and memory care facility 

  • Population catered to

Assisted living facilities are specifically designed to house seniors who require assistance for routine activities, such as hygiene maintenance, mobility, meal preparation and medication administration. The residents also enjoy considerable autonomy over their lives and are encouraged to perform doctor-approved safe tasks independently. 

On the other hand, memory care assisted living facilities cater to elderly with memory loss and cognitive decline. Such residents are constantly accompanied by a personal assistant and behavioral therapists to allow management of their routine lives. The main aim of such facilities is to help seniors manage and adapt to the behavioral challenges their condition presents. 

  • Services offered

In assisted living senior care homes, the services offered aim at assistance in activities of daily life (ADL) and different degrees of professional involvement. The service will depend on the unique needs and conditions of the residents, with customized plans for each. The assistance required in such facilities is not as elaborate and specific as those offered in memory care facilities.

The residents of memory care assisted living are looked after by only those professionals who are specifically trained and certified to look after patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These facilities have secured exit and entry gates at every point and a staff that is at arm’s distance of the resident throughout the day. From appointment management to family meet-ups, every task is supervised and undertaken by a trained professional. Even the architecture of the accommodations is designed keeping in mind the greater incidence of falls and accidents in seniors suffering from memory loss. 

  • Activities offered on-site

Since most assisted living residents are equipped with normal cognitive capabilities, there are little to no restrictions to safe movement and recreation within the accommodation. If they are allowed by the on-site physician following a health checkup, the residents can enjoy all and any facilities being offered, from a stroll in the park to a game of chess. 

Memory care facilities offer very structured and supervised activities that are safe to perform with any degree of cognitive impairment. Each resident is first evaluated by a resident physician and therapist and then subjected to an approved activity plan. Cognitive exercises such as reminiscence therapy, puzzles and art therapy are quite commonly available. Family meetups and engagement through sensory play is also encouraged to offer sensory stimulation. 

  • Number of staff

For most assisted living facilities, the number of personnel and professionals will depend on the number of senior residents and their diverse needs. 

For memory care facilities, the number of staff available on site and per resident is a lot greater than what we see in assisted living centers. This is because of the constant vigilance and healthcare checks needed for seniors with cognitive loss. 

  • Dining and feeding facilities

Meals in an assisted living center are a means of socialization and interaction. Mostly, all residents have uniform nutritional needs with little to no assistance required in feeding except in the most extreme cases.
In contrast, memory care assisted living has a totally different dining plan for its residents. Assisted feeding and administration might be a norm. The meals are specifically designed to lower reliance on fine motor skills. Finger foods and textures that are easier to chew and swallow are preferred, which may be vastly different from meals offered at an assisted living facility.

Navigating the transition from a vibrant, able-bodied youth to the challenges of senior years can be complex. In Michigan, numerous senior living communities cater to diverse needs, ensuring the elderly receive optimal care while retaining their independence. Explore a range of facilities, from independent living for the active seniors to assisted living and memory care for those requiring specialized attention. Enhanced living facilities offer a luxurious post-retirement experience.

Senior care homes prioritize tailored physical, emotional, and mental care, fostering socialization among peers who understand the nuances of aging. These communities empower seniors to live on their terms, free from judgment or maltreatment.

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