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Elizabeth Bemis

By: Elizabeth Bemis on May 21st, 2019

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Independent Living vs. Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Independent Senior Living  |  memory care  |  Aging & Caregiving  |  dependent senior living

Moving out of your home and into a senior living community comes with a lot of big changes and adjustments. However this can be an exciting time if you choose a community that’s a good fit for your needs.

If this is your first time evaluating senior living options, you may not know the difference between independent living vs. assisted living vs. memory care. While these options are similar in some ways, they’re each designed to meet the needs of different seniors. Learn more about how each of these communities are different and which option could be right for you.


Independent Living

Some seniors are in great shape and able to care for themselves with little assistance. However, independent living comes with a number of amenities that make seniors’ lives more enjoyable. Instead of spending this season of your life on chores, you can spend it enjoying yourself at a lively senior living community.


Home upkeep is a common reason active seniors choose to move into an independent living community. Maintaining a yard, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and other physically demanding tasks can be too much for seniors to take on themselves. When you move into an independent living community, all the burdens of home ownership are taken off your shoulders. Someone else takes care of the landscaping. Some communities provide meals for residents. You can even take advantage of laundry services.


Cost is another reason seniors turn to independent living. In addition to being physically demanding, living alone can be financially demanding. Paying bills, repairing and remodeling, or paying for home care services may be more than your budget can handle. Many seniors eliminate the financial burden of living alone, and choose independent living as the more affordable option.


Independent living offers all the amenities of living in a senior community, without residents needing to give up their independence and privacy. Top independent living communities offer a variety of apartments in different sizes for seniors to choose from. You can have you own private living space, which can be as large or small as you want.


You also have access to all the activities and socialization opportunities these communities offer. Communities plan outings, parties, game nights, and countless other activities for seniors to enjoy. You can stay in shape too with fun fitness classes some communities offer like yoga or Zumba. This season of life can be full of opportunities for fun and relaxation.

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Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are ideal for seniors who need help to get through the tasks of daily living. These communities offer long-term care and support, in addition to housing and other services, like meals and medical attention.


How can you tell if assisted living is ideal for your needs? If you’re struggling with daily tasks like getting in and out of bed, bathing, or managing your medication, assisted living could be the best option for this season of your life. Assisted living communities have care professionals on staff around the clock, so you have access to as much or as little help as you need.


From a medical perspective, assisted living communities are appealing to families because seniors will be supported by trained health professionals. When seniors live alone, a fall or injury could lead to serious health issues, especially if there’s no one else home to help. Assisted living communities offer safety nets in the form of regular checks on residents and emergency buttons to alert staff members if you need help. Families will feel more comfortable knowing that seniors are in helpful, expert hands.

Like independent living communities, daily life at an assisted living community is full of amenities and activities. You can take advantage of book clubs, crafts, games, outings, and more. Seniors have the opportunity to socialize with other residents, while still having their own private living space. Many assisted living communities offer private rooms or apartments, so you can choose a space that works best for you.


Memory Care

Memory care is a specific type of assisted living for seniors who deal with degenerative memory diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Seniors facing these types of memory challenges require skilled and special help to stay healthy and safe in their living environment.


Memory care communities can also positively contribute to a resident’s emotional state and mental strength. The community environment has a positive impact on seniors facing memory challenges. Residents have numerous people to socialize with each day, and the communities work to provide seniors with a routine. Staff members trained in memory care also engage seniors in activities designed to help with memory loss, like music therapy or memory games.


In addition to helping seniors with memory challenges, memory care communities also keep seniors safe. Seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can easily get confused, and sometimes even wander off. This can be scary for families whose senior loved ones live alone. Memory care communities, however, offer a secure environment with locked doors and staff members monitoring exits at all times. This level of 24-hour supervision allows families to feel confident that their loved one is well cared for and safe.


Plus, these memory care communities are often separate wings of or affiliated with assisted living communities, so residents have access to all the same amenities offered in these communities. They can go on supervised outings, participate in crafts and clubs, and enjoy celebrations and parties with the other residents.


As you and your family consider independent living vs. assisted living vs. memory care, remember that each senior care option is designed to meet different needs. So, the best way to determine which one is right for you is to consider your own needs carefully and see which option would be ideal for you. And while one community may be right for you today, you can always move into another one later. For example, if you have small memory lapses now, but you’re active and don’t need much help, an independent living community could be right for you today, while a memory care community could be a better fit down the road. When you consider your needs carefully, you can easily choose a senior living community that’s right for you.


Will you be touring senior living communities soon? If so, download this helpful guide on which questions to ask and how to select the best option for your needs.


Find out more about your senior living options in this free guide.

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About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.