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What Is the Difference Between Memory Care & Dementia Care?

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A caregiver examining an older adult woman who is experiencing disorientation and confusion.

When a loved one has memory impairment or dementia, memory care and dementia care can help. In these communities, your loved one can receive care from a team of professional, experienced caregivers. But what’s the difference between memory care and dementia care?

Memory care is designed to support people living with conditions that lead to memory loss. On the other hand, dementia care is designed specifically to cater to the needs of people with dementia and aims to support your loved one with all aspects of their cognitive health. However, some communities use these terms interchangeably and offer both types of care under the term “memory care.”

Memory Care: What Is It For?

Memory impairment refers to several different conditions that affect a person’s ability to remember things. It can vary wildly in how severely it affects a person—some people forget a name here and there, while others may lose track of the time more often. The symptoms, even though they aren’t always predictable, primarily affect a person’s memory.

When this happens, it can start to negatively affect a person’s life. They may start to have difficulty recalling dates, faces, names, events, or more. When memory impairment starts to affect a person to this degree, it may be time to think about memory care.

Who Is Memory Care For?

Memory care is a specialized form of care designed for older adults living with memory impairment. Each resident gets a customized care plan designed to support them in their daily life. It’s a safe, supportive, and loving environment where your loved one can live comfortably—while having access to round-the-clock caregivers who can help make their daily life easier.

How Does Memory Care Help?

But how do these communities do it, exactly? How do they manage to help when memory impairment can be so complicated?

Memory care helps by providing a structured and secure environment. The physical layouts are designed to minimize confusion—there are often maps on the walls at every corner or a color-coded pattern designed to make it easier to remember where you are. This way, confusion is minimized, and safety is prioritized. There are often gates at the entry of the community and other security measures in place.

But it isn’t just about the physical environment. Memory care aims to support your loved one and help keep them happy, healthy, and safe. That’s why the communities also often offer:

  • Exercise programs so residents can stay physically healthy
  • Therapeutic activities like music therapy, art classes, or religious services
  • Memory-based events and exercises designed to encourage your loved one to stay cognitively strong
  • Social opportunities ranging from community discussions to group therapies

And the entire time, residents get access to a team of caregivers with extensive training in supporting older adults with memory impairment. These communities are an excellent way to help your loved one maintain a high quality of life—without losing their independence.

What Is Dementia Care?

Dementia care, on the other hand, is a more advanced type of care. Since some types of memory impairment are progressive conditions, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, they often lead to the need for a higher level of care. That’s where dementia care comes in.

When memory impairment or other neurodegenerative conditions progress to later stages, dementia care may be the answer. These conditions can cause more severe side effects, including:

  • Wandering or getting lost
  • Behavioral changes
  • Communication difficulties

In dementia care, your loved one can get comprehensive assistance from caregivers trained to address the unique challenges caused by later stages of memory impairment. And the community still provides all of the benefits of memory care! Your loved one still gets help with what they need for a higher quality of life.

The goal of dementia care is to maintain the dignity and independence of older adults living with dementia and support them in the way that they need.

How Are Memory Care & Dementia Care Different?

While memory care and dementia care do share some similarities in the care they provide, there are a few key differences.

Memory care primarily aims to cater to older adults in the earlier stages of memory impairment. Meanwhile, dementia care is designed to support people living with later stages of dementia.

In memory care, the teams on-site are trained to provide care for older adults with memory impairment. However, dementia care teams receive extensive training in supporting people through the unique challenges of advanced dementia or memory impairment.

While both communities are designed to provide specialized support, the key difference lies in the severity of the memory impairment involved. This way, residents can receive the care they need, while remaining independent when possible. It’s an incredible way to support older adults living with these conditions.

A smiling older adult woman sitting on a wheelchair looking directly at the camera against a memory care facility

Choosing a Care Community for a Loved One

When you’re choosing the right type of care for your loved one, it helps to carefully consider their specific needs. And whatever type of care your loved one needs, our team here at Crescent Fields at Huntingdon Valley wants to help.

We believe in supporting every one of our residents through this chapter of their lives. Schedule a visit with our community today!

Written by
Angela Clark

More Articles By
Angela Clark

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