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What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care? Choosing the Right Level of Care for Your Family

When a loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are a number of challenges families must face—and decisions to make at a time of high stress and limited information. Can the family take care of the relative? Is in-home assistance possible? Do they need to be in assisted living or memory care? How will they pay for it?

When we consult with families at Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we keep compassion top of mind. These are not easy issues to grapple with, and we work with family members or other loved ones step by step to help them do what’s best for their unique situation. One of the most common questions we get is around the difference between assisted living and memory care.

Assisted Living Basics

All of our communities offer assisted living, which is usually a private apartment where residents live autonomously and can receive the level of assistance they need. We start with an individualized care plan and continually update it to monitor the needs of our residents. Assistance ranges from help with general coming-and-going, all the way to help with personal needs such as dressing and bathing.

Because our communities are maintenance-free, assisted living is a great option for seniors once they are no longer able to manage the upkeep of a house on their own. Because we strive to build vibrant communities with an active social life, seniors appreciate being able to come and go as they please and participate in a variety of community activities, from game night to museum outings.

Assisted living is also a good option for seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our trained nursing staff and other community leaders pay careful attention to our residents. We’re able to offer assisted living residents a soothing and comfortable environment, and assist with tasks such as medication management.

The Memory Care Transition

For more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, a specialized memory care community is a better option. These communities provide more specialized care and supervision, as well as specialized activities to engage our residents’ minds. Our memory care communities are secured 24 hours a day, though residents are able to enjoy community amenities as they are able, from beautiful and tranquil courtyards to dining services.

Because memory loss affects everyone differently, we offer individualized programs to ensure all of our residents are cared for and comfortable. We work to balance safety with social activities. Programs include music and scented therapy to tap the senses. Additionally, team members across our communities have started getting certified in Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach, a methodology designed to meet residents where they are and achieve positive results regardless of what stage of Alzheimer’s they are in.

The decision between assisted living and memory care ultimately boils down to communication—understanding where the resident is and what the best option is for him or her and their family. To learn more about our memory care options and find a community near you, visit our organization’s memory care page.