When you need to help a loved one find the senior living option that fits their care needs, the choices can seem a bit overwhelming. This short guide will explain the differences between assisted living and memory care, and give you some information to help you start moving toward the decision that’s best for your loved one.
ASSISTED LIVING & MEMORY CARE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
ASSISTED LIVING is for people who need help on a daily basis but don’t need a higher level of medical care. It’s a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the needs of those who require help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking. In some states, it’s referred to as residential care. Assisted living provides this personalized care in a residential setting that supports a healthy lifestyle and offers opportunities to stay socially connected. Most assisted living communities offer private apartments, many of which come with kitchenettes. The common areas, dining venues and grounds are designed to be welcoming and feel like a residential home. Some even allow pets. Residences and common areas have been adapted for safety with grab bars and rails to help with stability, good lighting, low- or no-threshold flooring and showers, and emergency pull-cords or communication devices.
MEMORY CARE is a specialized form of long-term care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or memory loss. You may also see it referred to as memory support, Alzheimer’s care or dementia care. These communities offer the same care services as assisted living communities but provide added security and supervision, as well as unique activities and programs. Many senior living communities include specialized areas dedicated to caring for residents needing memory care. There are also some stand-alone memory support communities. Residents typically live in semiprivate apartments or private rooms. Usually services and amenities are on-site, with group activities and events included. Most memory care programs include innovative technologies and interventions that can decrease the anxieties and difficulties related to dealing with dementia. Today’s memory care is designed to provide personalized care that supports a healthy lifestyle and opportunities to stay active and engaged.
WHAT ARE THE KEY COMPONENTS OF ASSISTED LIVING AND MEMORY CARE ENVIRONMENTS?
• Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking
• Access to health and medical services
• 24/7 security and staff availability
• Emergency call system for each resident’s home
• Medication reminders
• Personal laundry services
• Three meals a day served in a common dining area
• Housekeeping services
WHAT DOES IT COST?
There’s not a single answer to that important question. It depends on location, residence type, and the level of care services needed.
Many communities have a one-time move-in fee, which typically runs between $1,000 and $5,000. It may need to be paid upfront, or it can be prorated monthly.
• Rent — This is the monthly cost of the residence, which will vary based on size and location in the community.
• Services — Part of the monthly fee goes toward services such as housekeeping, a meal plan, transportation, activities and programs. Some levels of personal assistance may also be included.
Communities differ in how they price care services. Prospective residents undergo a medical assessment to determine the level of care needed.
• Tiered pricing (also known as Levels of Care pricing) — This model groups a variety of care services into tiers, each of which allows for a certain number of hours per month. If a resident doesn’t need much help, they’ll be placed in the lowest tier, which is the least expensive. The more help they need, the higher the tier and the cost.
• Fee for services — Some communities base pricing on the level of help needed with ADLs and how much time it takes to deliver those services. For example, if a resident needs 15 minutes of help dressing, 30 minutes of help with meals, and 15 minutes of help with bathing each day, that adds up to one hour of help per day at the community’s service rate.
• All-inclusive — All monthly costs, including care services, are covered in a single monthly fee. The definition of “all-inclusive” will vary from community to community. Some may charge extra for medication management or incontinence services, for example. Others may have a cap on the degree of services they can offer. Be sure to ask about all the potential costs or limits on care.
A Note About Memory Care Costs. Even when offered in an assisted living setting, memory care costs more than assisted living. Why?
• It requires more staff to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.
• Staff members are trained in addressing the challenges that come with memory care. They understand the difficult behaviors that can manifest and how to address them. They get to know each resident and are trained to recognize subtle changes in mental or physical health. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, you should plan on paying about $1,200 more per month for memory care than for assisted living alone.
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Not all communities are alike, but this chart will give you an idea of how the different types of senior care compare.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Now it’s time to take the next steps toward finding the right community. Include your loved one in the process as much as possible. It’s going to be their home, so respecting their wishes and decisions is important.
Here’s what to do.
We hope you’ll also consider Westminster Village Terre Haute a helpful, expert, go-to resource. You can invite us into the conversation anytime—in private consultation with you or with the entire family.
Want to learn more? For details about assisted living and options at Westminster Village Terre Haute, contact us today!