What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

When Mom or Dad needs the care you can’t provide, there are a number of options at your fingertips…from independent living and skilled nursing to assisted living and memory care.

If your loved one struggles with memory loss—but still enjoys independence—you’ve probably ruled out independent living options and skilled nursing.

While Mom doesn’t need a 1,200-square-foot cottage…she certainly isn’t ready for the hospital-like atmosphere of a nursing home.

Your remaining options?

Assisted living and memory care.

Assisted living and memory care both provide similar comforts, such as…

  • Three meals a day.
  • One-on-one support.
  • Group activities.
  • And more.

Given their overlap, these two senior care options may seem to be the same.

However, assisted living and memory care can have some important differences.

Keep on reading as we explain three important distinctions you should note.

1. Assisted Living and Memory Care Have Differences in Programming

Both assisted living and memory care will provide programming involving activities, social interaction, and life enrichment for your loved one.

However, it’s important to recognize that assisted living programming and memory care programming can differ in their goals.

An assisted living community may focus on maintaining fitness, exploring sights and sounds in the surrounding community, and other experiences.

In contrast, a memory care community tailors programming around the unique needs of dementia.

For instance, the right memory care community will avoid environments that cause confusion and offer activities involving the familiar (e.g., folding laundry).

2. Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities Can Have Different Building Designs

Dementia Home Blue Print

If Mom or Dad suffers from dementia, he or she may experience wandering and confusion.

Many times, an assisted living community won’t accommodate these challenges.

Large open spaces, a big dining area, and other community features suit an active older adult…who doesn’t struggle with significant memory loss.

In contrast, memory care communities can offer a design suited for Mom or Dad’s unique needs.

For instance, at The Grove, we use an ability-based neighborhood approach. Each neighborhood in our communities…

  • Offers a smaller, familiar environment and is designed to hold 14 residents or less.
  • Provides a natural wayfinding system so your loved one can stroll in a natural pattern, instead of wandering up and down a hall.
  • Contains an open kitchen, small dining room, and living area…evoking a homelike environment.

3. Assisted Living and Memory Care Can Differ in Caregiver Training

Another dividing line between assisted living and memory care communities is caregiver training.

A number of memory care communities have team members trained to address the special challenges of dementia.

After all, it doesn’t require much training to help Mom brush her hair. But it does require skill to help Dad deal with sundowning, confusion, or the mood changes that come with Alzheimer’s.

At The Grove, we place a high priority on caregiver training.

Our memory care communities exceed the state requirement, providing five times more training for our caregivers from an NCCDP Certified Dementia Practitioner®.

Whether it’s caregiver training or community design, the reality is, there can be a big gap between assisted living and memory care communities.

If your loved one has dementia, it’s important to choose an environment that truly understands—and meets—your parent’s needs.

Discover a memory care community that does just that at The Grove.

When you explore our community, you’ll see our care in the little details. From the design of our neighborhoods to the family-style meals we provide, life at The Grove is purpose-built around your loved one’s needs.

Schedule a visit to The Grove Toledo, or plan a time to see The Grove Columbus, our newest memory care community…and discover what makes our memory care unique.

Is There a Link between Vitamin D and Dementia? What One Research Study Has to Say

Discovering your loved one has Alzheimer’s or signs of age-related dementia can spark a number of questions. Suddenly, you’re asking yourself… [Link to https://www.thegroveatoakleafvillage.com/4-key-dementia-symptoms-every-adult-child-should-watch-for-in-a-parent]

     What causes dementia?

     What are the risk factors?

     What prevents memory loss?

As you search for answers, perhaps you’ve stumbled across research on vitamin D and dementia that raises a very important question…

Is there a link between deficiency in vitamin D and dementia?

After all, if there’s a nutritional deficiency that’s impacted Mom or Dad’s life, you want to know about it—and take action.

In this article, we’ll look at vitamin D deficiency, dementia, and the importance of nutrition for your loved one’s health.

Let’s dive in…

A Recent Study on Vitamin D and Dementia

In October 2017, BMC Geriatrics released the results of some important research.  [Link to https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0622-1]

Involving a large number of research participants, this study collected the blood samples of over 500 Swedish nursing home residents.

Of the 545 participants, 55% of the residents had dementia.  

After collecting the blood samples, the study analyzed the vitamin D concentrations in the residents’ serums.

The result?

When discussing their findings, the scholars noted…

     “Vitamin D deficiency was common among nursing home residents and strongly associated with dementia.”

In other words, dementia residents had a statistically higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency than those who didn’t have dementia.

What This Study Means for Your Loved One

It’s important to understand the implications of this research for your loved one.

First things first, this research didn’t prove that having vitamin D deficiency causes dementia. Instead, it demonstrated an association—a link between the two.

However, just because there’s only a link doesn’t mean there isn’t a cause for concern. In fact, there is a possibility that vitamin D deficiency does cause dementia—as identifying a link is the first step to pinpointing a cause-effect relationship.

As the authors of the study pointed out…

     “Vitamin D deficiency was strongly associated with dementia, therefore there is need for future studies to clarify if there is a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and dementia.”

While we wait for further research to find a stronger tie between deficiency in vitamin D and dementia, here’s the bottom line for your loved one…

Supporting your loved one’s nutrition is essential.

But that’s especially hard when Mom or Dad has memory loss—as you’ll soon see.

Poor Nutrition—A Danger for Dementia Patients  

If your loved one has dementia, vitamin D deficiency isn’t the only danger to avoid.

The reality is, he or she experiences a real risk for poor nutrition. According to the National Council on Aging, a number of factors can cause malnutrition, including…   [Link to https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/NCOA-Malnutrition-Infographic-0816_web.pdf]

  • Living alone.
  • A lack of mobility.
  • Dementia.

As the Alzheimer’s Association explains, those with dementia can “become overwhelmed with too many food choices, forget to eat or have difficulty with eating utensils.”  [Link to https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/food-eating]

In other words, dementia can place Mom or Dad’s well-being on the line.

If your loved one has dementia, be on the lookout for signs such as…

  • Weight loss.
  • An empty refrigerator.
  • Food that seems untouched.
  • Kitchen appliances that never seem used.

They could indicate that your parent isn’t getting the mealtime support he or she needs.

Carrot's Nutrition

Supporting Your Loved One’s Nutrition

Alzheimer’s and age-related dementias create unique nutritional challenges.

But, at The Grove, we’re doing something about it.  

To begin with, our communities strive to offer one brain-healthy dish for each meal we serve—whether that’s DHA-boosting salmon, vitamin B-filled lentil soup, or another option.  [Link to https://www.thegroveatoakleafvillage.com/why-the-grove/brain-healthy-menu]

What’s more, each ability-based neighborhood has an open kitchen.

These kitchens allow the aroma of foods to float through the air…triggering your loved one’s senses and supporting Mom or Dad’s desire to eat.

In our addition to our family-style meals, our community offers additional support such as a thoughtfully designed layout, engaging activities, and team members who’ve received dementia training.

You can see the difference we’ll make for Mom or Dad when you explore our community and join us for a complimentary meal.

If you or your loved one is near Toledo, Ohio, plan a time to visit us here.  [Link to https://www.thegroveatoakleafvillage.com/toledo/schedule-a-visit]

For those of you in Columbus, Ohio, we’ll soon be opening The Grove Columbus. Plan your visit in advance when you go here.   [Link to https://www.thegroveatoakleafvillage.com/columbus/schedule-a-visit]