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As you start looking at different senior living offerings, you will notice that there are many options to choose from.

Questions may come to mind, such as: is assisted living (AL) the best option? What do independent living (IL) communities provide? And what’s the difference between nursing home and memory care (MC) options?

Understanding the differences and similarities between these communities is vital when trying to find the best fit for a future home.

Independent Living

Independent living is a perfect fit if you are an active, self-reliant adult who finds social fulfillment in the company of your peers. This type of senior living doesn’t cover healthcare services or help with daily routines and personal hygiene like assisted living does.

However, you still benefit from weekly housekeeping, wellness checks, around the clock staffing, and access to an emergency call system. 

What’s more, there is a full schedule of programs with activities and outings focused on seniors and scheduled transportation so you can go shopping, go out to eat, or run errands.

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Assisted Living

Assisted living is for older adults who require extra support, like activities of daily living (ADL), but still want to maintain their independence. Assistance with ADLs can include assisting with medications, bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, or getting around. 

Assisted living is suitable for seniors who:

  • Have physical challenges that interfere with day-to-day activities
  • Have difficulty keeping up with daily hygiene

Services and amenities in assisted living can include the following:

  • Staffing 24/7
  • Daily check-ins and emergency alerts
  • On-site medical clinics
  • Transportation
  • Concierge services
  • Ability to age in place

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Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized level of assisted living that offers additional care and support to senior adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Special programming and activities are offered and designed around the abilities of residents. Typically, memory support is for residents who:

  • Struggle with memory impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer’s symptoms
  • Require more care
  • Can’t live safely in their home alone
  • May danger themselves or others

Memory care communities usually have specific design features that help residents find their way around safely and comfortably. These include:

  • Clearly marked hallways
  • Secure entrances and exits
  • Specially designed living space

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Nursing Homes

Nursing homes provide a higher level of care than senior living communities can provide. Most seniors transition to nursing homes following a surgery, procedure, or hospital stay. These homes provide 24-hour care, and require hands-on monitoring and assistance.

Residents get skilled care and might even be confined to bed, be completely incontinent, or depend on G-tube feeding for nutrition. In most instances, residents are there briefly to recuperate from a procedure or hospital stay. In other cases, residents are there long-term to get specialized and skilled care 24/7.

A physician oversees each patient’s care, and other medical specialists such as physical, speech, and occupational therapists are also on hand. In addition, many nursing homes generally have medical equipment like in hospitals, such as electric beds or x-ray machines.



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