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The Difference Between Assisted Living & Memory Care

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An assisted living staff jotting down the results of the blood pressure test she administered to an older adult woman.

If you have an aging loved one who needs specialized care, you may wonder if they need “personal care” and “memory care.” While these levels of care seem similar, there are significant differences between them. 

Personal care (also known as assisted living) is a lifestyle option at senior living communities that provides assistance and support with daily activities while promoting independence. Memory care is a specialized type of long-term care designed for individuals with memory loss and cognitive impairment.

What Is Personal Care?

Personal care communities are designed for those who need some help with their activities of daily living but can live mostly independently. Activities of daily living include

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Eating
  • Medication management
  • Mobility

Residents in personal care communities receive personalized care plans tailored to their needs. They may also have access to amenities like housekeeping, transportation, social and physical activities, meal preparation, and nutrition help. 

Personal care communities cater to individuals who desire a supportive environment that complements their independent lifestyle. This level of care is often a good fit for seniors who do not require extensive medical attention or specialized care.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care is specialized long-term care for individuals with dementia or other memory-related conditions. Memory care communities provide a safe and supportive environment for those with difficulty with daily tasks and who require additional supervision.

Memory care staff are specially trained to assist residents with activities of daily living and provide cognitive stimulation through various therapies and programs. Memory care aims to improve the overall quality of life by fostering a sense of familiarity and routine. In addition to personalized care plans, memory care communities often offer secure outdoor spaces, memory-focused activities, and specialized dining options to accommodate dietary needs. 

Who Needs Memory Care?

An older adult woman solving a jigsaw puzzle to improve her memory.

Most people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory-related conditions will benefit from memory care. These conditions can cause a progressive decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory, thinking, reasoning, and judgment. This decline can make it difficult for individuals to perform daily activities safely and independently.

Memory care provides support for:

  • Individuals with progressive memory loss. Memory care is ideal for those experiencing memory decline that interferes with daily activities like managing medications, preparing meals, or following safety protocols.
  • People who wander or have difficulty staying safe at home. Memory care facilities offer secure environments with controlled access and staff trained to supervise residents prone to wandering.
  • Those experiencing behavioral changes. Memory care communities can provide a structured environment with trained staff to manage behavioral changes associated with dementia, such as agitation or confusion.
  • Those who need specialized care beyond basic assistance. Memory care provides specialized activities and programs designed to stimulate cognitive function and maintain a sense of well-being for individuals with memory impairments.
  • Families seeking peace of mind. Memory care can offer families significant relief by knowing their loved ones are in a safe, secure environment with staff trained to meet their specific needs.

The Key Differences & Similarities Between Personal Care & Memory Care

Living Environment

Personal care provides private apartments or homes and offers communal dining and living areas. Memory care facilities usually have a more controlled environment with memory-friendly features, such as color-coded hallways, visual cues to aid navigation, and layouts to help reduce confusion and anxiety

Level of Independence

Personal care promotes independence and encourages residents to participate in daily activities. Memory care focuses on maintaining a routine and structure to help individuals with memory loss feel safe and secure. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If My Loved One Needs Memory Care or Personal Care?

If your loved one has been diagnosed with a type of dementia or is experiencing a level of memory loss that affects their daily life and safety, memory care may be the appropriate choice.

What Are the Average Costs of Personal Care & Memory Care Communities?

Costs vary significantly depending on geographic location, amenities, and the level of care required. Memory care may be more expensive due to the specialized services it provides.

What Services Are Typically Offered in Personal Care & Memory Care?

Standard services include meal preparation, personal care assistance, medication management, housekeeping, transportation to and from appointments, and lifestyle activities. Memory care also offers memory-enhancing activities and therapies.

How Do Caregivers Handle Medical Emergencies & Medication Management?

Trained staff are available 24/7 to handle medical emergencies and ensure proper medication management. Caregivers work closely with healthcare professionals and family members to create personalized care plans for each resident.

How Often Can Family Members Visit Residents?

Families are encouraged to visit their loved ones as often as possible. Memory care communities often have designated visiting hours and may also offer private areas for family visits.

Choosing the Right Care

Fieldstone at Chester Springs is a family-owned senior living community that prioritizes connection, personalized support, accessibility, ease, and engagement. If you’re looking for a place where your loved one can thrive, schedule a visit and experience how special our community is in person.

Written by Fieldstone at Chester Springs

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