What Makes Memory Care Different?

Jun 15, 2018 | Planning for Long Term Care

What makes memory care different than assisted living, in-home care, etc.?

With the various options available today, choosing the right care for your family member may seem overwhelming.  Faced with an already difficult situation, nothing is more important than making a smooth and simple transition for your loved one, as well as for yourself.

Memory care, assisted living, and in-home care are considered long-term or custodial care but are not one and the same. When dealing with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or the other forms of dementia that will gradually progress or worsen over time, advanced, specialized care is critical, as well as the importance of a safe and secure environment for your loved one.

Assisted Living

Assisted living provides assistance with all Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) while providing ongoing supervision if needed.  ADLs include the following “activities”: bathing, transferring, mobility, dressing, eating, continence and toileting. Although medication assistance is not considered an ADL, it can often be the primary reason a family would choose to seek out an Assisted Living community. In general, the Assisted Living environment allows seniors to live as independently as possible, in a highly social atmosphere, while having access to assistance with the ADLs.

In many cases, families often choose an Assisted Living community, as opposed to Memory Care for their family members who have earlier stages of dementia.  Any move is challenging and unfortunately, this often turns out to be a decision that may result in a higher level of anxiety, frequent isolation, and greater confusion for that resident.  It may also lead to targeted negative verbal comments from other residents, leading to further ostracization. Because Assisted Living is not a secure environment, a resident with dementia may be able to leave at any time, leading to major safety concerns and danger for that person.  Naturally, families should always consider the risks associated with this level of care supervision. At the same time, as dementia progresses, more care is needed and then yet another move may be required to a secured memory care unit, resulting in additional costs, and possibly more confusion due to another new environment.

In-home care

In-home care can be medical or non-medical, with licensed or certified, and uncertified personnel that will come to your home to provide primary care and other care assistance for your loved one in their own homes.  Medical home health care is often covered by health insurance (once certain criteria are met), and care is provided intermittently by a nurse, therapist or social worker. In-home care can be complex and has both advantages and disadvantages.  Non-medical care is often provided by an unlicensed staff/caregiver, often for 4 hours or more at a time and is not covered by health insurance. In the case of providing care for individuals with dementia, non-medical in-home care does not necessarily assure the caregiver is trained to manage the special needs of those with memory loss.  In addition, the families are often left with the actual management of the staff coming in or even filling in when a staff member doesn’t show up, especially if the caregivers are not provided through an agency. For the memory impaired, the home can become the least safe and most costly place to live.

We are often asked, when do you know it’s time to move to memory care?  The answer is when the care for your loved one is not being well managed in the home, either their needs are not being met or it has become cost-prohibitive.  One of the main reasons for transitioning to a memory care community is due to safety, as the loved one may be a danger to themselves, or not even recognizing that someone may be trying to harm them.

Memory care

Very simply, Memory Care IS Assisted Living with an additional license for Memory Care.  This additional license requires specialized training for all staff, as it relates to the care of individuals with memory impairment.  Regular Assisted Living focuses on the needs of residents that are more cognitively intact, may need some help with some ADLs, and it can provide a dynamic activities program and more socialization for the residents.

Memory Care focuses on a routine schedule for the individual that encompasses ADLs with activities and socialization, understanding that the diagnosis of dementia is progressive and there may be behaviors that the staff is trained to manage. The goal for memory care is to provide a safe environment that residents can negotiate, feel at home while helping to lower anxiety or agitation as the disease progresses.  These communities can range from small, multi-bed homes to large, 90+ bed communities. At Sundara, each staff member, from the owners to the care staff, is specialized and trained to care for residents with cognitive impairments.

We believe that because Sundara is a smaller, intentionally designed layout in a more home-like environment, the transition to Memory Care is smoother, the relationships with the residents and staff, as well as families is more cohesive and in-depth than a much larger community.  Discover the Difference!