How is Assisted Living Different from Memory Care

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that about seventy percent of the adults above the age of sixty-five will need long-term care at some point or the other in their lives. So it is always important for us to find the type of care required by our loved one, as none of the long-term care options are made equal.

There are many types of residential senior care services these days, memory care and assisted living being the most popular ones. Both these services are growing fast and it is important to have an understanding about the differences between the two so that you can choose the best senior care service for your loved one.

As per the Assisted Living Federation of America, the term assisted living can be defined as “A long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed.” The personal care services that are offered in assisted living communities include transportation, medication management, and round-the-clock care to the residents. Seniors in assisted living facilities will be usually offered a private room or a shared space, depending on their preferences and budget.

Your loved one might just need help with the everyday tasks or they might need specialized care if they suffer from age related issues or from conditions like Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia. Assisted living facilities can vary a lot depending on the services that they offer, and some of them offer memory care services for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia as well. These services are usually provided in a Dementia Special Care Unit (SCU); these facilities are not federally regulated, but they should be licensed by the state in which the facility is located.

Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Even though some of the assisted living communities also have memory care units at their premises, they are both different. Memory care is a specialized type of long-term nursing that is especially aimed at people with Alzheimer’s or any other type of Dementia. These units are also called Special Care Units (SCUs) and offer 24-hour supervised care within a different floor or wing of a residential care facility.

If your loved one is still active, but is unable to live independently and is in need of help with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and eating, assisted living could be the best option for him or her. At the same time, if your loved one is unable to care for himself or herself owing to the progressive impairment, memory care facilities offer a residential solution.

In addition to offering help with daily activities, the caregivers in memory care facilities are specially trained to help people who have impaired cognition and have difficulty remembering things. Moreover, the layout and security options of memory care units are specifically destined to suit Dementia patients. This can help reduce falls, accidents, and injuries due to the wandering behavior of the patient.

Apart from the usual state-level licensing of care facilities, memory care is also regulated by Special Care Unit disclosure laws in about twenty-three states. As per the laws in such states, the care providers should disclose the details of the special services that they offer. As these laws are not universal, it is important for you to research about the facilities before deciding on the facility.

Comparison of Long-Term Costs

As per the experts in the field, the cost of memory care and assisted living are subject to variables like room size, location, whether the space is shared or not, and the services that are needed. Apart from these common variables, the costs are calculated differently for these types of care.

Usually, the assisted living communities charge on a monthly basis and this covers the room rate and board with two or three meals a day. The average charges for a single bedroom assisted living apartment is 3,300 dollars per month and this can vary much depending on the location of the assisted living facility. Some of these facilities cover laundry, housekeeping, and some other services in their base rate, but some other facilities might charge extra for these services. Therefore, it is always important to get a cost breakdown from the facility before fixing the assisted living service provider.

In the case of memory care, the monthly costs can be higher because they offer specialized nursing and care services, which are not offered by the regular assisted living facilities; the average charges for a single bedroom apartment in a memory care facility might cost 5,000 dollars per month. Luckily, there are a few options like Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans benefits that can help pay for senior care. These options can help cut down the out of pocket prices.

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