Memory Care in Assisted Living: Key Differences and Services

It is a sad reality to face when an elderly loved one has reached the point in life where they can no longer live alone. Many resist accepting this fact and attempt to prolong any helpful solution.

If you have exhausted all resources, it may be time for the painful but necessary decision to move them into a care facility. But do they simply need assisted living care or memory care? Is there a difference?

Read on to learn important information on memory care in assisted living facilities in Missouri, so you are prepared to make the right choice.

Are Dementia and Alzheimer’s the Same Condition

When people research memory loss and memory care, there are two words that show up all the time. Those words are dementia and Alzheimer’s.

For those unfamiliar with the medical world, it is easy to be confused by what both words mean. Are they the same condition?

Both represent a dramatic decline in memory and the ability to function and perform once common daily tasks. Dementia is the broad term for the condition. It is not a natural part of the aging process, but a situation where the brain cells become damaged.

Alzheimer’s is an actual disease and the leading cause of dementia. It is a degenerative disease of the brain caused by brain cell damage. While some memory loss occurs as someone ages, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are more pronounced and increase as time goes on.

Signs of Dementia

There are a few key signals that someone is experiencing the early stages of dementia.

Sleep Issues

Sleep rhythms get off during dementia. Your loved one may have insomnia, or wake up several times during the night.

Sundowning is a condition where a person feels anxious and confused at the end of the day. This is thought to be brought on by the simple fatigue of everyday activities.

Mood Disruptions

As the brain cells get scrambled, so do the patient’s moods. They quickly become irritable or depressed.

Even normal situations that previously were handled easily bring on bouts of anxiety or confusion.

Difficulty With Food And Medications

A person with dementia will often forget to eat or drink properly. This creates a situation where they quickly become weak and dehydrated. Both of those conditions will intensify the distress of other existing health concerns.

Even worse, they may forget to take their medicines at the right time, dose, or at all. This can develop into a life-threatening situation if not addressed immediately.


One of the most dangerous aspects of a person living alone with dementia is the likelihood of them wandering off.

This could be while out in familiar surroundings, or even taking off during an episode of fear or being bored.

Once one or more of these conditions are a daily part of your loved one’s life, it is time to make the difficult but loving decision to place them where their specific needs are addressed.

The Difference in Assisted Living Care and Memory Care

Assisted living facilities are designed to accommodate those individuals who still wish to live independently as much as possible, but need just a little extra special attention.

Meals are provided for them, and social interaction is encouraged and arranged. Housekeeping help is available, and there is always medical staff on-site or on call to assist with any issues that come up.

However, for the majority of their day, they are free to pursue their normal routine and take care of themselves as much as they are able.

For those individuals who need a more unique environment and hands-on treatment, a memory care unit may be the best fit.

Memory Care Specialized Unit

What makes a memory care unit special? Let’s take a look.

Unique Design

Since one of the most distressing symptoms of dementia is getting lost or wandering. Most memory care units as designed to cut down on this behavior.

The hallways are circular with no dead ends. Many are color-coded to help residents know where they are headed. Memory care units are typically smaller and more intimate than regular assisted living units.

There are also tighter restrictions on doors and windows leading out of the unit and outdoors. Security is also better equipped to make sure everyone stays where they are supposed to be.

Enclosed Garden Settings

Since being outside can be dangerous for someone with dementia, many memory care facilities have indoor garden settings.

They are still enclosed and provide a safe interior location but offer the feel of being outside in nature.

Specialized Training

Individuals who have dementia need to be cared for by staff that is properly trained. From the nursing staff to the kitchen and even housekeeping, everyone who comes in contact with your loved one undergoes specialized training.

They are taught how to interact and respond to those dealing with this terrible disease. They can provide calm and clear instructions and can assist when things become overwhelming.

Memory Care in Assisted Living – Support and Therapy

For someone experiencing dementia, it is a scary time with an unknown future. Your loved one may have moments of clarity and then drift back away.

The professionals at a memory care facility will be able to offer support and therapy options to help cope with the condition and their feelings about it.

Types of therapy include art, music, and even pet therapy. Aromatherapy and sensory stimulation have also been shown to improve a patient’s sense of well-being and comfort.

Support groups are available for the residents, and even more importantly for their families. They are encouraged to meet regularly with the staff to discuss concerns and trends in their loved one’s behaviors.

Peace of Mind Is Priceless

When someone you love begins to show signs of dementia, it is a heartbreaking discovery. Life, as everyone knew it will slowly begin to change.

The care and safety of your loved one is your utmost concern. Memory care in assisted living for those in St Louis offers specialized treatment and support for both the patient and the entire family.

For more information on how we can assist you in this delicate transition, please reach out.