The senior living industry is diverse and includes many housing and care options for elderly people. As we age, many of us have to deal with more health problems and mobility limitations. These changes often require additional support. Many seniors cannot continue to live on their own as they once did. When daily life becomes a struggle, it is time to decide if you or a loved one need something more.
Choosing the right community is important. The facility should provide all the amenities and services that seniors need. It should also employ caring, compassionate workers who are experienced. These people are key to helping new residents adjust. Making new friends at assisted living can be easy when staff are supportive and encouraging.
Before you start to narrow down the specific location, you first need to know the type of senior living community you need. Two of the most common include assisted living and memory care. While one is sometimes available with the other, they are both different.
MD Senior Living manages luxury assisted living homes in Scottsdale, AZ. We can help you decide which type of accommodation is best for you or your loved one. The first step is to understand the difference between assisted living and memory care.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living communities are safe places for seniors who need assistance but still retain some or most of their independence. These places adapt to the needs of the resident. Staff can provide support for activities of daily living if required.
Residents are usually provided basic services like prepared meals, housekeeping, laundry, and assistance with grooming, dressing, or toileting. Many also offer medication management and connect residents with local medical professionals and care providers.
These places are not meant for people with serious medical conditions that require 24-hour monitoring. Instead, they are intended for people who need some assistance with daily care.
Assisted living is an option that is more support than an aging person receives living on their own but not as intensive and clinical as a nursing home.
What Is Memory Care?
Memory care is a specialized version of assisted living for adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It is intended to provide a safe place that’s structured to lower stress.
People with cognitive decline receive more guidance than they do in assisted living. The staff ensures that they eat meals and helps them get to activities and appointments.
Memory care is also more secure because residents are more likely to wander. Doors are locked and alarmed, outdoor spaces are enclosed, and elevators require a code to use. Assisted living communities also provide security, but to a lesser degree so that residents can move more freely.
Activities in memory care are usually geared toward improving cognitive function. They are designed to cater to people at different stages of dementia.
What Kind of Senior Living Do You Need?
It is important to make sure that you choose the right level of care you need before moving into a senior living community. The good news is that some assisted living homes also operate an on-site memory care unit so you have access to both without moving elsewhere when the time comes.
If you notice signs that an elderly person can’t live alone, then it is time to figure out the best senior living option. Ask yourself the following questions to make an informed decision about your future or that of a loved one.
- Have You Been Diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s?
If you have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, then you know you will likely need memory care at some point. However, that doesn’t mean you need it right now. Depending on what stage you are in, you may be able to thrive in assisted living until the disease progresses.
You should speak with your doctor and the senior care facility you are considering to make an informed decision. You can always move into memory care later when the time comes.
- Do You Lose Track of What You Are Doing or Become Confused?
Cognitive decline can appear as confusion. Do you often lose track of what you are doing or where you are going? Do you find yourself getting lost, even in familiar places? Do you become confused frequently?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then memory care may be a better option for you. Assisted living will provide more support than aging in place, but it isn’t as structured or secure as a memory care community. If confusion is becoming a bigger issue, you may need the extra monitoring provided by memory care.
- Are You a Risk for Wandering or Changes in Behavior?
Have you ever wandered away or had noticeable changes in behavior? People with dementia are more likely to experience mood changes or forget to do basic things like eat. And they sometimes wander, which can be very dangerous for someone who is not being supervised.
Memory care provides more supervision to prevent residents who wander from getting into potentially life-threatening situations.
- Do You Struggle to Take Medications on Time and in the Correct Dosage?
Even a young person can forget to take their medication from time to time. This isn’t necessarily a red flag, but it becomes a serious issue when it happens often or when taking medications for serious conditions.
If this is the only issue you have right now, then assisted living may be adequate for your needs. Find a facility that offers medication management. Staff will store your prescriptions for you, prepare the dosage, and give it to you on time.
- Do You Have Significant Memory Impairment?
If you are someone with significant memory impairment, then memory care may be the better option. This level of memory loss is described as a lack of ability to consistently recollect information to the point of impairing your ability to perform daily activities.
Some forgetfulness is not uncommon. It is considered a normal age-related symptom. However, if you forget important information, become disoriented, or experience personality changes, then you are likely in need of memory care.
- Do You Feel Unsafe in Your Current Living Situation?
If you feel unsafe in your current living situation, then it is time for a change. If you are having difficulty doing physical activities or are feeling isolated and alone, then assisted living may be a good choice.
However, if you feel unsafe due to advanced cognitive decline, then you may need to look into memory care instead.
- Can You Live Mostly Independently with No Serious Concerns?
If you can live each day mostly independently with no serious concerns or risks, then assisted living is likely a good option. You can continue to live with freedom and independence, but also with access to the support you need.
Assisted living communities are designed to be convenient. Residents can access a variety of services on-site or through community-provided transportation. It makes life much easier, less stressful, and safer for elderly adults.
It is best to consider your options earlier in life. Many seniors are moving into assisted living sooner, making the transition much easier. It allows people to adapt quicker and can improve their quality of life. Whether you need assisted living or memory care, making the move now can help you live better for years to come.