Assisted living and memory care

Assisted living and memory care isn’t the nightmare that some imagine it to be. For example, it can be a fun and exciting new horizon because of the new friendships you can make.

But what if you have a faulty memory that can hinder this? Is memory care the solution? Is this even available with assisted living?


Here’s the rundown on the different options available.

Assisted Living definition

In these communities, people still live mostly independent lives. They might, however, get assistance with things like meal prep, mobility, meal preparation, and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

You might be ready for assisted living if these types of activities become dangerous for you to handle on your own.

What about assisted living environments?

They can be in big buildings or sprawling neighborhoods. Some facilities allow pets or will include laundry as part of the package or for an additional fee.

Memory Care definition

There are significant differences between these 2 communities.

The primary difference is the extent of care that’s required. With people who need memory care, there are often severe memory-related problems that must be handled.

  • They may forget who they are from day to day, or feel frustration when familiar spaces in their living area suddenly feel unfamiliar.
  • They may wander off and pose a danger to themselves and others when they feel frustrated and take it out on strangers.
  • The training is different for staff in MCUs, and so is the architecture. For instance, walkways are often circular so that residents won’t get frustrated by a door they can’t get through. Residents can also be scared about touching something that doesn’t feel as they’d expect it would, like touching metal that doesn’t feel like metal.

There will be things that help address these problems. Examples would include games and activities that help promote fun as well as unlock memories of the past.

For instance, social rooms with arts and crafts and puzzles. Playrooms with games, dolls, and office work (to remind about working). There might also be music therapy where they can listen to music from their past.


Is Memory Care available in Assisted Living?

Remember earlier when we brought up the concern about memory. Well, what if you’re worried about your memory failing while in assisted living?

Unfortunately, assisted living and memory care are not usually available together.

However, many communities such as ours blend memory care and assisted living. These types of facilities operate in the same general place, with memory care as one wing of the building and assisted living another.

Since you’re in the same area, transitioning between the two is easier – this is ideal for residents since the buildings will likely look the same (as will many of the staff).

It’s also convenient for friends and family. They will be able to find you quickly and won’t have to search for where you live every few years, making it easier for you to plan out your options in advance as well.

Possible disadvantages of some mixed care facilities

The advantages of mixed communities can be pretty huge, but there are some disadvantages you may want to consider as well.

Standalone communities can have more knowledgeable staff about memory care overall, whereas assisted living and memory care facilities might have staff that rotates from one wing to another without having the depth of knowledge needed to provide adequate memory care.

The focused approach in a facility can also produce better results in terms of design.

A mixed community, on the other hand, might focus on only one aspect of memory care, such as keeping residents safe instead of providing the emotional support they need through providing fun activities and mental exercises.

However, it’s always possible that the assisted living and memory care community has top-notch services in all three different areas (nursing, memory, assisted living) and the standalone facility could fall short in critical areas.

It’s also a good idea to educate your friends and family about assisted living and memory care.

For instance, if you or a loved one will be in a memory care unit that has shortcomings, your friends and family can help make up for it with the right practices.

This might be necessary if the memory care unit is closer to your assisted living facility so that your family can easily visit you (even if a better MCU is farther away).


Costs of Each

Unfortunately, often paying for both of these services isn’t as simple as people would like. With Medicaid, your state might not cover much or anything for assisted living (it’s different for nursing homes).

However, vets can benefit more from the VA when it comes to assisted living. But the main takeaway here is that you should look to other options for financing your assisted living expenditures.

Potential options include long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, savings accounts, life settlements, selling assets, etc.

With long term care insurance, the earlier you purchase it, the cheaper your monthly payments can be, especially with inflation protection. If one company denies you coverage, it’s not the end of the world. Just look for another company.

The same payment options are also available for memory care residents.

There are also extra benefits available for veterans plus additional support available for nonveterans.

Medicaid can be an option but not in every state. There are also waiting lists, which you wouldn’t have to deal with if you had private means of paying.


Which Option is Right for You?

By now you should have a pretty good idea about which one you need right now.

The more difficult question might be where you should stay if you’re concerned about your future memory. A standalone facility or an assisted living and memory care facility?

One factor to consider is how close/far your friends and family are and whether they’d be willing to visit you and how much they would help with your care.

Cost is also an essential factor.

No matter your choice, you should make sure that no matter what, when the time comes, you’re eligible for admission into an MCU of a nursing home.

And finally, long term care insurance can open up higher tiers of assisted living and memory care units.