Assisted Living and Memory Care: What’s the Difference?

Today, individuals have several different long-term care options, depending on their needs   According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately  70% of individuals over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point.

Most people want to stay at home as long as they can, and many of them will need an aide to assist them with one or more of the activities of daily living (“ADL’s”).    For reasons of safety, security, or avoiding isolation, some people will consider Assisted Living or Memory Care.  Understanding the difference between these two out-of-home options is important. Here are three main differences between these two types of facilities that can help you determine what’s best for you or your elderly loved one.


Assisted Living Communities Offer More Independence

Assisted Living facilities provide a safe and secure environment for seniors who are still self-directing and relatively independent.   They offer opportunities for socialization, and activities designed to be entertaining or educational for seniors.  Assisted Living typically provides communal dining, housekeeping, laundry and other daily services, but does not offer skilled medical care. Living facilities are often designed to feel like homes, with residents having their own apartments or rooms.

Memory Care Facilities Specialize in Dementia

Memory Care units are often contained within Assisted Living facilities.   They are designed to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or memory loss, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The nurses and staff in a Memory Care facility receive special training to understand and care for the needs of people with memory loss.   Usually, the layout of the building or floor is designed to help patients feel less disoriented, and to avoid their getting lost or wandering. Unlike in Assisted Living, in a Memory Care facility both everyday needs as well as medication and health care needs are provided.

Memory Care Costs More

Because Memory Care facilities provide such specialized services and around-the-clock care, they tend to be even more expensive than Assisted Living facilities.

Long-term care insurance can help, but most people end up paying out of pocket for elder care facilities. Medicare does not provide coverage for long-term care.  However, New York’s Medicaid program will pay for a wide range of long-term care services, including Assisted Living.  Medicaid recipients must be financially eligible for the program, but with proper planning, eligibility is within reach for most people.

In Conclusion…..

This article provides only a few key differences between Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities. If you have questions about Assisted Living or Memory Care, or how to access government benefits to pay for these services in New York, call the elder care attorneys at Lamson & Cutner.

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