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Assisted Living with Memory vs Memory-Only Communities

Assisted Living with Memory vs Memory-Only Communities

By Alan Hoffman

“How do I get started finding the right community for my loved one?” 

Oasis Senior Advisors hear this question often as families come to terms with the fact that living at home is no longer an option for their loved one. Many people place their loved ones on their own, only to discover it didn’t work out. In recent months, this has been happening more frequently than ever. The events of the last year and a half have left everyone’s frustration level and emotions at an all-time high, and worried family members are desperate for answers. 

Oasis Senior Advisors often ask their clients, “How many times do you want to move?” The answer is always, “Once.”  Because of this, the goal is to help clients make a confident decision so they only need to move one time. Part of making that decision is understanding the array of options available in senior living. One of the most misunderstood areas is memory care. There are multiple options for placement of a senior with a memory disorder, and making the right choice the first time is essential.

Understanding the difference between assisted living communities with memory care and memory-only communities is a great place to start when making the transition to senior living.

Assisted Living with Memory versus Memory-Only Communities

  • Assisted Living with Memory Care – These communities have the capabilities and staff to manage both physical and cognitive needs. For example, if an assisted living resident with dementia is no longer able to safely live in their apartment, they are no longer appropriate for assisted living and will transition into the memory care area. While part of the same familiar community, memory care offers more specialized service. The doors are secured, the staff offers frequent visual checks on residents, and activities are more guided and geared towards the cognitive level of the residents.
  • Memory-only communities – Memory-only communities are licensed as assisted living but specialize in clients with memory disorders. Every staff member, no matter their department, receives training on dementia care. Activities are offered on several different levels so that residents can participate and be successful, regardless of their cognitive abilities. Because the staff is specifically trained in how to care for residents with advanced dementia, they are less likely to discharge a resident who is combative or aggressive. If they do discharge a resident, a memory-only community is often more likely to allow the resident to return once he or she is back to their baseline condition. 

Making the decision to place a loved one into a memory-only community is the most challenging placement for families. When family members tour these communities, they often see residents with very advanced dementia conditions, and question whether their loved one needs the same level of care. When this happens, a professional senior advisor is able to remind them that while the assisted living community has benefits, the odds of a future move becomes much greater if their loved one doesn’t start their journey in a memory-only community.

Which is the Right Place?

There are many important questions to ask when visiting different senior living communities, but there are two key questions that should always be on your list when determining a community’s capabilities of caring for a resident with dementia:

  1. When was the last time you discharged a resident to a hospital and what was the reason? Tell me what happened.
  2. When was the last time that you had to tell a family that their loved one could no longer live in your community? Give me an example.  

Oasis Senior Advisors want clients to feel confident in their choice of community. If the community is  uncertain about the answers to those questions, there are three options: tour the facility again, ask more questions, or look for another community better suited to serving the needs of those with memory impairments.

Choosing a senior living community is a decision that should only be made one time. Your local Oasis Senior Advisor is a trusted resource and guide to older adults and their families throughout the entire process of searching for a senior living community. From scheduling tours to asking the right questions, your advisor helps seniors and families make decisions they feel confident with.

If you know someone who is preparing to make the difficult decision to place a loved one into a senior living community, call (888) 455-5838 to reach your local Oasis Senior Advisor. One call to Oasis offers many solutions.