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What Are the Differences Between Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Respite Care? 

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A female caregiver in her blue shirt is sitting on a gray colored sofa with a senior male patient. The caregiver is holding a photo album and she is showing it to her senior patient.

Aging is a natural part of life. As your loved one ages, they may no longer be able to live independently without putting themselves in danger. When this happens, serious decisions about their care must be made,  and it may be time to consider assisted living, memory care, or respite care.

It can be confusing for your loved one as they enter this new chapter of life, but being confronted with a wide range of unfamiliar care can also be uncomfortable. When you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know which type of senior living lifestyle is the best fit?

Let’s learn about each type of senior care so you can make an informed decision on what will be best for your loved ones.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is an excellent choice for your loved ones who want to maintain as much independence as possible while needing some assistance with daily activities such as laundry and housekeeping. 

Private apartments in assisted living communities can provide your loved ones with the privacy they need and 24-hour medical care.

Nutritional assistance can be beneficial if your loved one is struggling to eat healthily. When your aging parent lives in an assisted living facility, they’ll not only eat great, they will also have more time to socialize and make friends.

Before your loved one moves in, most senior living communities will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the level of care they need.

What Is Memory Care?

When aging parents have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it’s common for families to keep their loved ones at home for as long as possible. However, if the relationship becomes strained, caregivers burnout, or a senior isn’t safe, it may be time to consider a memory care community.

Memory care focuses on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of memory issues, and offers 24-hour supervised care.

Staff members are specially trained to understand the needs of people in all stages of dementia, and to assist seniors who may be experiencing frustration, anxiety, aggression, or communication issues as a result of cognitive decline.

Memory care facilities usually have extra security measures in place to keep residents safe from wandering, which is one of the many symptoms of dementia.

Signs It May Be Time for Memory Care

  • Your loved one is having difficulty with hygiene and basic self-care.
  • Because of unpredictable behavior, your loved one is no longer able to leave the house.
  • Because of dementia, your loved one has become increasingly agitated or aggressive.
  • They’re not paying their bills properly or on time.
  • They are withdrawing from hobbies or social situations.
  • Your loved one is forgetting to take medications or refill prescriptions.
A group of seniors are sitting on a chair while they are having coffee and playing wooden tumbling tower.

What Is Respite Care?

The main difference between respite care and assisted living is the duration of stay. 

Respite care is provided on a temporary basis and can be arranged for a variety of reasons:

  • Perhaps your loved one is recovering from an injury and requires more assistance than you can provide for the time being.
  • Maybe they want to try assisted living but aren’t sure how they’ll like it.
  • You may have begun to notice signs of stress or exhaustion in yourself and want to seek help.

Caring for another person is a 24-hour job. You need to take a break from time to time to attend to your own needs (which is perfectly fine!). This is when respite care can help.

There is some relief care available:

  • At home
  • In specialized care settings
  • In senior living communities that offer overnight stays

You can take as many or as few breaks as you need, and you can arrange for respite care for a few hours, a day, several days, or several weeks.

Respite care can also help your loved one get the specialized care they need if they are transferring from hospital to home after surgery or a medical stay.

Many people are unaware that short-term respite care is available in their local senior living communities.

Senior Living Could Be Right for Your Loved One

If you believe your elderly loved one would benefit from an assisted living or memory care program, or if you could benefit from a break and are interested in respite care, please contact our friendly team at Serenity South Senior Living. We will work with you to schedule a tour that is most convenient for you.

Written by Deborah Shane

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