Every day, people are faced with a decision that can profoundly impact their life: What type of care will best meet the needs of an aging parent? Assisted living facilities and memory care communities offer different levels of care to elderly individuals. Understanding the differences between these types of senior residences is critical when making this necessary selection process. Read on for more information about assisted living vs. memory care!
What Are the Differences Between Assisted Living & Memory Care?
Every assisted living facility and memory care community is unique, so it can be not easy to generalize these terms. But for an overview of the differences between these two types of senior housing, read on:
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities offer a range of services and amenities to their residents. Typically, they offer several meal options and snacks throughout the day; housekeeping services; medication management (with oversight from the resident and their family); transportation; laundry; entertainment options; social activities; and more. Most assisted living facilities require that seniors be able to move around independently (though some do offer certain levels of care as well).
Memory Care Community
Memory care communities provide specialized care for those with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Such communities typically offer more structured activities and less access to technology in the hopes of preventing residents from becoming agitated or upset. Some memory care facilities also require family members to stay on-site; most do not allow children under a certain age (12-14 is common).
Which Type of Retirement Home Is Right for You?
There is no perfect answer to the assisted living vs. memory care debate. The best type of retirement home for your loved one will depend on that individual's personality and needs. For example, assisted living would be a good choice if an older man enjoys playing cards and socializing with his neighbors. However, if he has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and struggles with personal hygiene and independent mobility, a memory care facility might be more appropriate.
A cognitive assessment can help you understand what level of care your loved one requires now as well as overtime; it can also help you decide whether now is the right time to move your family member into an assisted living facility or memory care community (for example, if they seem overwhelmed by the move, you may want to wait). You can also talk with members of your loved one's healthcare team for more information about assisted living vs. memory care; these experts are always ready to offer suggestions and recommendations.
Cost Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care
Assisted living facilities typically cost more than memory care communities. This is because they offer a more comprehensive range of services (like transportation and entertainment) while also requiring less hands-on care from residents' families. On the other hand, memory care communities offer more one-on-one care from staff members and less access to technology.
According to Genworth's 2020 Cost of Care Survey, the median monthly rate for assisted living facilities in the United States is $4,300. Memory care typically adds 20% to 30% to the overall cost.
The location of a business can have a significant impact on its cost. For example, assisted living costs in New Jersey and Delaware are well over $6,000 per month, while Missouri is the only state with an average of around $3,000 per month. There are also times when veterans' benefits are available to help cover costs.
Tips on Choosing the Best Place for Your Loved One’s Needs
The first step to choosing an assisted living vs. memory care community is learning as much as you can about the different types of facilities in your area. While there are some similarities between assisted living and memory care communities, there are also significant differences. Each type has its list of pros and cons that might make it better suited for your loved one's unique needs.
Two Types of Assisted Living Facilities to Consider
Three Types of Memory Care Communities to Consider
Pros/Cons of Each Option in Detail
Assisted Living Facilities With Extra Amenities
Pros: Extra amenities are fun and can help your loved one stay fit, engaged, and active.
Cons: If these services aren't needed or used by your loved one, it could be a waste of money.
Assisted Living Facilities With Secure Units
Pros: This assisted living facility provides the intensive care that some seniors need to remain safe.
Cons: These communities can deprive those who don't need this level of care of enjoying fundamental freedoms. Also, this type of community might not be as good for those who want access to all the latest technology and entertainment options because many memory care communities do not offer such features.
Standalone Memory Care Communities
Pros: These communities are typically the most affordable option out of all types of senior housing.
Cons: They don't offer as much service, which can be a significant drawback for some seniors who crave companionship and socialization.
"Memory care-lite" or Transitional Communities
Pros: This type of community is more helpful than an independent retirement community but less intensive than a traditional memory care facility. Thus, it can help transition seniors to assisted living or nursing home options when needed.
Cons: It's possible that your loved one could end up spending time in this type of facility if they require more care than expected; this might not be a good option for seniors who cherish the freedom and independence that comes with living on their own.
Traditional Memory Care Communities
Pros: These memory care communities offer more personalized services than some other types of long-term solutions.
Cons: They're typically the most expensive, costing $7,000 to $8,000 per month or more. Additionally, they deprive seniors of enjoying fundamental freedoms such as having access to all the latest technology and entertainment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Types of Services Are Provided by Memory Care Facilities?Personal care, assistance with daily activities, emergency monitoring, and other services are available at memory care facilities. Residents at most memory care facilities have access to cognitively stimulating activities and skilled nurses and physicians who develop care plans and monitor residents' health and progress.
When It Comes to Alzheimer’s Care, What Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare doesn't cover residential memory care. Short-term stays in nursing homes and a limited number of hours of in-home health care per week are covered by Medicare for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In addition, Medicare Supplement plans may cover Alzheimer's care and services in addition to Original Medicare.
Does Insurance Cover Alzheimer’s Disease?
In some cases, insurance will pay for Alzheimer's care. Memory care is not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Memory care may, however, be covered by Medicaid waiver programs. On the other hand, long-term care insurance usually covers at least a portion of the cost of Alzheimer's care.
What Is the Distinction Between a Nursing Home and a Memory Care Center?
The primary distinction between a nursing home and a memory care facility is that memory care facilities are designed specifically for seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. All of the services, amenities, activities, and policies at memory care facilities are designed to help people with memory loss. Nursing homes provide high-quality medical care to people who have chronic or acute illnesses that necessitate regular monitoring and medical attention.
When Should a Dementia Patient Be Admitted to a Facility?
Determining when someone with dementia should be placed in care is up to each individual and their family. Some families choose to keep a loved one at home with a care aide for the duration of their illness, while others opt for residential care. This usually occurs when someone has progressed beyond the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease and is experiencing more severe symptoms, but each person and their families are unique.
For some people, the peace of mind that comes with moving once to a memory care community that can accommodate their changing needs without requiring another move is priceless. Others may prefer a more gradual shift in care, such as moving to an assisted living community and then to memory care.
Consider how much assistance the senior requires daily to live safely, healthily, and happily. Consider the diagnosis, as well as what their doctors have said about medical needs and changes to expect shortly.
Then go to a few different communities to get a sense of what's available. Once you have all of this information, weighing the pros and cons with your loved one can help you make a decision that's right for them!