It’s never easy to come to terms with the fact that our loved ones are aging and struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. It can be even more stressful to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient at home when you’ve had no formal training. You just want what’s best for your elderly loved ones, but what exactly does that entail? Many people turn to assisted living communities for help. While these can be wonderful places for the elderly, it’s important to choose the right senior living community. When your loved one struggles with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it may be time to explore memory care communities. Dementia assisted living in a specialized memory care unit may be the best option.
Unfortunately, many assisted living communities cannot properly care for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. This is particularly true as the disease progresses. Those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia often need specialized care that many nursing homes cannot offer. When nursing homes take in a patient they cannot care for, this could result in nursing home abuse. It could also result in the eviction of aggressive dementia patients. Either way, this is not the ideal situation for your aging loved one. The nursing home negligence lawyers at Lipton Law are here to offer advice about finding quality care for your family member. To schedule a consultation with us, please call 248-557-1688 today.
Alzheimer’s vs Dementia
Many people do not understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. While they are closely related, they are not interchangeable terms. Understanding the difference can help both you and your family members find the best care for your aging loved one.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease that accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Dementia is a general term for symptoms like decline in memory, reasoning or other thinking skills.”
In other words, dementia is a generalized term for a decline in mental ability. Generally, in order to be classified as dementia, the decline must interfere with daily living. Alzheimer’s is a disease that is the most common cause of dementia.
This is a degenerative brain disease that involves changes in the brain as well as cell damage. It can lead to the symptoms associated with dementia, which tend to worsen with time. Over time, affected individuals will experience confusion, disorientation, and even behavioral changes. It even makes swallowing, walking, and speaking more difficult.
This is a group of symptoms related to memory decline, as well as a decline in reasoning and other thinking skills. There are different types of dementia, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia. Many different conditions can cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s. It’s important to note that dementia and Alzheimer’s are not a natural part of aging. They are generally associated with damage to the brain cells.
What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?
Looking for assisted living facilities is tough enough on its own. This is especially true if your elderly parent requires memory care services. Not every assisted living facility is well-equipped to provide dementia care or other specialized medical care. That’s why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons as they relate to your specific circumstances. While assisted living and memory care facilities offer many of the same amenities, memory care facilities are more specialized than assisted living facilities.
While assisted living and memory care communities are both expected to have strict safety measures in place, memory care requires increased safety precautions. It is common for those who require memory care to fall, wander around, and exhibit aggressive behavior. That’s why memory care communities often have a more secure environment. Examples of added safety features include the following.
- Blocked exits
- Door alarms that signal when someone is opening the door
- Locked entrances
- Keypad doors
Additionally, the layouts of memory care units are important to minimize confusion for persons living in the unit. They also place a high priority on calming therapy to reduce confusion and agitation. Many nursing homes don’t have the same specialized activities to help residents with memory loss.
Staff Training and Care
Assisted living and memory care homes both have staff trained in long-term care. This means that they understand how to help residents with daily tasks. However, staff members at a memory care facility are specially trained to provide 24/7 personal care to seniors. These professional caregivers help offer quality senior care for those with cognitive impairments. They encourage and help memory care residents to do the following.
- Maintain their cognitive skills
- Retaining a sense of self
- Developing personalized senior living or memory care
- Managing dementia behaviors, such as aggression or wandering
- Encouraging independent living
- Maintaining a higher ratio of staff members to residents
Therapies and Activities
Many senior care units offer various types of therapy services and activities to help with each person’s care and physical abilities. Memory care communities offer many of the same services, but they also have additional services designed specifically for memory care residents. Some common therapies include the following.
- Art therapy, which can help slow the progression of cognitive decline
- Music therapy, which often reduces agitation and promotes relaxing
- Pet therapy
- Reminiscence therapy
Senior living communities often have a wide range of amenities that promote independence and social interaction. An assisted living community might include the following amenities.
- Gardens or outdoor courtyards
- Transportation services
- Accommodations for pets
- Salons and barber shops
- Art and game rooms
- Relaxation rooms
Memory facilities often have the same amenities but with additional amenities for residents with memory loss problems. Some of the added benefits for memory care residents include the following.
- Color-coded pathways and walls to help with supporting residents
- Clearly labeled and designed common areas
- Outdoor spaces to prevent feelings of being trapped
- Services that increase feelings of personalization and independent living for residents
Cost is one of the most important aspects for many families when choosing a long-term care facility for their relatives. Many factors impact the cost of an assisted living residence, including the following.
- Size of the room
- Whether or not the room is shared with another resident
- Services offered
An assisted living residence often charges monthly fees for residents. These fees cover rooms, three meals a day, housekeeping, transportation to medical appointments, and activities. Additional costs may include special outings for residents and assistance with daily living activities. The more assistance a resident needs, the higher the cost may be.
Generally, the cost of a memory care unit is higher than for other assisted living spaces, such as a nursing home. This is because of the additional training that nurses have, as well as the medication management, individualized care planning, and other specialized services. As with other forms of senior housing, memory care costs vary by location.
Is Assisted Living Better Than Memory Care?
This mostly depends on the individual needs of your senior family member. Most families understand the needs of their loved ones. However, you can always speak with a senior living advisor if you are unsure what kind of long-term care they need.
Who Can Benefit from Memory Care?
Memory care is often a part of an assisted living community or a secure unit on its own. Those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory issues often benefit more from memory care. This is because of the specialized services and long-term care they offer. These facilities also have increased levels of safety and security while ensuring that residents do not feel trapped. Essentially, if your loved one struggles with memory loss or other related problems, a memory care community is likely a better choice than continuing care retirement communities.
Who Can Benefit from Assisted Living?
The best candidates mostly need help with their daily activities but maintain a healthy level of cognition and reasoning. Even though residents tend to need care support for ADLs, they can still communicate with staff about what they need.
Combining Memory Care and Assisted Living
Some facilities offer both memory care and assisted living in one community. Therefore, residents of different levels of cognitive impairment can all receive the care they need. Additionally, those who have long-term care insurance may find that their costs are covered by insurance. This saves families from paying large monthly sums out of their own pockets.
Finding a housing option that works for your loved ones is important. Some communities offer housing to accommodate both memory care and assisted living care. Even for spouses who enter the community together, they can still share a space while receiving the care they need. Assess your loved ones’ needs as you search for the best community to meet those needs.
When Should Dementia Patients Go Into Care?
There is not always one specific event that signals the need for a memory care facility for elders. However, those whose dementia affects their everyday life would likely benefit from a care facility. There are many signs that your loved one might be ready for a transition into a memory care facility. Below, we list examples of these signs.
- Behavioral changes
- Disorientation or confusion that negatively affects safety
- Notable declines in physical health
- Deterioration of nurses or other caregivers
At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24-Hour Care?
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. This means that it gradually worsens with time. Both the person affected by the disease and their caregiver can be affected by its progression. The Alzheimer’s patient will need 24-hour care and supervision at least by the time the disease is late-stage. When the disease progresses to the point where your loved one needs round-the-clock care, it might be time to consider assisted living.
Contact the Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Lipton Law
At Lipton Law, our Michigan elder abuse lawyers have handled various cases involving nursing home abuse, bedsores, nursing home falls, nursing negligence, and much more. This means that we’ve done our research when it comes to understanding what elderly residents need to stay safe and healthy. If you fear that your loved one has suffered from nursing home negligence, schedule a consultation with us. We are here to both defend your loved one’s rights and ensure that they receive the proper care and treatment they deserve. To schedule your free consultation with us, please call 248-557-1688 today.