Assisted Living vs Memory Care: What’s the Difference?

It’s no secret that Florida is a fantastic place to retire in the US today. The weather is beautiful, you’re never far from the beach and there’s always an event or activity to enjoy.

Retiring in Florida is an easy decision, especially if it keeps you close to family or friends. But selecting the right community, with the right level of support, can be difficult. Many adults find themselves choosing between two of the most common types of support: assisted living and memory care.

Assisted living and memory care provide similar levels of support by helping residents with daily tasks like getting dressed and eating. However, memory care is different from assisted living because it provides specialized support for individuals with memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease.

As older adults and their relatives plan for a bright and active future, it’s important to find the level of support that best fits their personal situation. For some, that’s assisted living. For others, memory care is a better choice. This article will dive deeper into both assisted living and memory care, helping you understand the support and services offered in each, as well as providing tips on how to choose the right option for yourself or a family member.

Assisted Living: The Basics

Individuals in assisted living are largely independent but want or need some help in certain areas of their lives. They are healthy and active. Most often, assisted living is part of a long-term wellness program that includes:

  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Daily health support (such as medication management)
  • Personal care services, including help with daily living activities

The most important aspect of assisted living is the help it provides with daily tasks. That might include help moving from one place to another or help getting dressed in the morning. Assisted living provides assistance in these areas so residents can spend less time on these tasks and instead focus on enjoying their freedom.

Depending on the needs of each resident, an assisted living community may also provide additional services, such as home maintenance, housekeeping, transportation services, 24-hour safety and security and recreational activities that make life easier and engage residents on a daily basis. For housing, residents may have the option to choose from a variety of living arrangements, including private condos and apartments, shared apartments or shared rooms.

Memory Care: The Basics

The biggest difference between assisted living and memory care is the people that memory care supports. Unlike individuals in assisted living, those in memory care have long-term health needs, specifically memory impairments such as dementia, that are best met by a specially trained staff.

To provide adults with the support they need to live full lives, memory care often encompasses the same base services and amenities as an assisted living community offers. However, those services and amenities are tailored to meet the needs of individuals with memory impairments.

For example, memory care communities may have similar housing accommodations as assisted living, but incorporate additional safety measure to ensure that someone prone to wandering is safe and happy. Many times, residents in memory care also benefit from a more structured daily calendar, with schedules and routines that are designed to facilitate a stress-free lifestyle.

Another great benefit of making the move to a supportive living community that offers memory care services is the fact that residents can take advantage of specialized programs that are designed to improve cognitive skills and slow the progression of memory loss. These programs, along with access to 24-hour medical care, make for a safe, fun and interactive living environment.

Services Offered in Assisted Living and Memory Care

While state regulations vary regarding the type of services that are offered in supportive living environments, both assisted living and memory care provide help with daily activities, access to medical care and a wealth of activities for residents to enjoy. Depending on the individual needs of each resident, they may choose to take advantage of just a few of these services or as many as possible. Some of the services that are typically offered in both assisted living and memory care communities include:

  • Emergency call systems
  • Access to medical care from nurses or visiting physicians
  • 24-hour security
  • Transportation services
  • 3 daily meals
  • Health and exercise programs
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Home maintenance
  • Social programs and other wellness activities

How to Know if You Need Assisted Living or Memory Care

The fastest way to decide between types of support is to look at your personal situation. Those diagnosed with memory impairments likely need memory care, not assisted living, although that could vary depending on your current abilities.

In general, you’re likely well-suited to assisted living if:

  • You need or want help with a few daily activities but are otherwise independent
  • You experience only minor or occasional forgetfulness that doesn’t impact your daily life
  • You want to avoid the burden of home maintenance and enjoy additional amenities and services without a community

You’re likely better suited to memory care if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with a memory impairment and regularly experience symptoms
  • You’re prone to wandering or consistent forgetfulness about where you are or who you’re with
  • You or your family doesn’t feel safe when you’re left without support
  • Your memory impairment is affecting your physical abilities and you’d like to maximize what you can do with additional support

Tips for Choosing a Supportive Living Community in Florida

Once adults and their families have determined which services they will most likely need access to, they should research communities in their desired area. If you are already familiar with the area or are interested in sticking close to your current residence, it can be helpful to seek out recommendations from personal physicians, financial planners, social workers, friends and other relatives who may be familiar with nearby wellness and enrichment programs that are geared toward adults. Additionally, it can be helpful to reach out to your local state health department for recommendations.

Once you’ve created an initial list of candidates, you can begin to narrow down the field by reviewing the specific services, location and price range that fits into your budget. From there, it’s important to take the first steps to reach out to the community administrator to schedule a tour of each campus. It can be helpful to arrange tours during mealtimes or ask if it’s possible to have lunch with a few of the current residents. Not only is this a great way to meet new friends, it is another opportunity to learn more about life in your potential new residence and get a better feel for what the average day is like in each community that you visit.

Which Is Right For Me, Assisted Living or Memory Care?

At Presidential Place we offer both assisted living and memory care neighborhoods. By providing both options, we make it easier for residents to enjoy assisted living, then easily move to memory care when they and their families feel it would be most beneficial.

Interested in learning more about the wide variety of services available at our supportive living community in Hollywood, Florida? Our friendly experts are always available to answer questions. Give us a call at (954) 894-0059 or contact our admissions offices online today for more information and to schedule a tour.