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What Is the Difference Between Memory Care and Dementia Care?

It is common for people of any age to have spells of forgetfulness; losing the car keys, forgetting a phone number or not remembering a family member’s birthday can happen to anyone. As people age, it is also common to have a modest decline in thinking skills and to have more frequent memory problems. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in nine adults over the age of 45 experiences some form of confusion or memory loss. However, there is a difference between the memory lapses that come with natural aging and memory problems that could be signs of memory loss diseases or cognitive impairment.

Thankfully, there is help available for a wide variety of memory loss issues. The increase in individuals with memory loss has created an emergence of memory loss programs and communities with varying levels of care specifically designed to support older adults with memory challenges. Before seeking memory care services, it is important to understand when memory care is needed, what level of care is required and where to find the right type of care.

Level of Care Assessment

Age-related memory loss does not cause a substantial disruption to daily life. Age-related memory loss can lead to things like misplacing a pair of glasses or forgetting someone’s name, but remembering later in the day. Many older adults report they need to make lists more often to remember important tasks and that all appointments must go on the calendar to not be forgotten. However, these changes do not impact daily life or social interactions.

For some older adults, memory loss does become a concern. If loss of memory is causing life disruptions or safety concerns, it may be time to consult a health care professional; there are tests to determine the degree of memory impairment and diagnose the cause. To identify if an older adult’s loss of memory rises to the level of needing a medical diagnosis, the doctor may ask questions. These questions may include:

  • When did memory problems develop?
  • Does the person have feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety or depression?
  • How much alcohol does the person consume?
  • What has been done so far to deal with the person’s memory problems?
  • What tasks does the person find difficult?
  • Has the person recently been sick or had an accident?
  • Is the person taking a new or different medication?
  • What medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, does the person take?
  • Has the person recently had a major loss or major life change?

These questions will help a medical expert determine if the person in question is dealing with loss of memory due to something like depression or a reaction to medication, or if the person may have a form of cognitive impairment. Additionally, the doctor is likely to perform a physical exam and do tests on thinking, reasoning and memory skills. Blood tests and brain scans may also be part of the level of care assessment.

If a diagnosis is made, it is time to discuss memory care services, memory loss treatments and the right path to support the person going forward.

Memory Care vs. Dementia Care

The earliest symptoms of memory loss diseases can be enough to interfere with daily life, but fully diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or dementia involves additional risks and medical concerns that require more careful treatment and more support for the senior’s everyday life. With so much to consider, it is natural to feel uncertain or overwhelmed when searching for the right memory care services and communities. When a senior receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it is important to find a community that specializes in caring for memory loss diseases. But even within this narrow category, there is a lot to explore. What are memory care services? And what are dementia care services? Are they the same thing?

Memory care services and communities offer the best results for seniors who need support with everyday life, but who are capable of handling many everyday tasks and functions unassisted. Dementia care services are more suitable for older adults who have more advanced cases of memory loss diseases and who experience substantial difficulty performing everyday tasks. Here are some additional details about memory care vs. dementia care:

Memory Care Programs

Memory care programs and communities are a type of long-term care geared toward those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of progressive-degenerative dementia. Memory care facilities offer a safe, structured environment specifically designed to protect residents against wandering and self-harm. Memory care residents are generally free of any major health concerns, aside from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but they can no longer safely live in their own homes.

Most memory care communities, like Bridle Brook Assisted Living & Memory Care Community, offer the same services, similar to those provided in an assisted living community. These memory care services include:

  • Semiprivate or private accommodations in an apartment-style suite 
  • Daily meals served restaurant-style, plus snacks and beverages throughout the day
  • Housekeeping, personal laundry and linen services
  • Daily social and recreational activities, such as fitness classes, organized games and day trips
  • In-house medical alert systems
  • Some assistance with activities of daily living 

In addition to the services provided at most assisted living facilities, memory care communities also offer specialized memory care services, such as:

  • Daily group and individual therapeutic recreational programming, such as brain games specifically designed to slow the progression of memory loss
  • 24/7 security
  • Anti-wandering systems 
  • Low staff-to-resident ratio
  • Help with activities of daily living
  • Family support groups

Dementia Care

Dementia care refers to caring for all types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia and combined dementia. Dementia care and memory care are both focused on the same goal – treating and supporting seniors with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, the term “dementia care” can be used to refer to care that is more involved than memory care in the early stages of memory loss diseases.  

When an older adult requires dementia care, their condition has advanced to a point where treatment should focus on mitigation of their symptoms and helping them preserve the best possible quality of life. While memory care services can work with assisted living programs and, in most cases, patients can enjoy some level of independence, dementia care is more clinical in nature and more closely aligns with a nursing home experience.

No matter the level of care needed, it is better to seek support sooner rather than later. When a senior receives memory care services early, it can potentially reduce the need for more advanced dementia care in the future. When memory loss diseases are left unchecked as they continue to progress, the senior’s condition can worsen and interfere with their life more acutely.

About Bridle Brook Assisted LivinG & MEMORY CARE

Bridle Brook Assisted Living & Memory Care Community addresses the needs of each person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and creates a unique experience tailored to each resident. There is an emphasis on getting to know each person as an individual and creating experiences and daily schedules that align with that person’s wants, goals and hobbies. 

Do you have questions about memory care? Do you want to know if it is right for your family? We are happy to talk and answer all your questions! Contact us today. You can also take a virtual tour online or contact us today to set up a tour in person!