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Memory Care Services in Assisted Living Facilities & Residential Houses

by Carole Larkin, Alzheimer's & Dementia Expert
November 29, 2013

Question: What is the difference between Memory Care Services in Residential Type Houses and Assisted Living Facilities?

Answer: Memory care in Residential type homes:They are homes that house several residents (usually anywhere from 2 to 10 people). In some states it is possible to be certified by the state agency who licenses facilities as a “Certified Dementia Care” home. Certified Dementia Care homes are always “secure”; meaning to must punch a code on an electronic keypad to enter or exit the home. Some homes who house residents with dementia are not “secure”, but usually the residents are not able to “elope” (escape). They may be in wheelchairs, or bedfast. Some residential care homes that are not secure do take residents who are able to elope, which I think is a disaster waiting to happen. There are also unlicensed homes (that the state does not inspect for health and safety of the resident or for quality of the care given there). Families do put their loved ones there, generally because they are cheaper than licensed homes.

Memory Care Assisted Living Communities. These can be stand-alone buildings or a wing or floor of a larger building that contains either (or both) independent living (apartments with some meals and weekly cleaning included in the rent) or regular assisted living (essentially independent living with the addition of assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding and medication dispensing). Regular assisted living is not specifically for memory care, but at least 50% of their residents are memory impaired to some extent or other (usually early to mid-stage). The memory care portion of the building is “secure” or locked. Generally, but not always, there are nurses on site, or at least on call for these communities.

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Carole Larkin MA, CMC, CAEd, QDCS, EICS is a geriatric care manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. Her company, ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

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