If you have dementia or another type of cognitive impairment, you might be weighing the pros and cons of assisted living versus those of dementia care. The truth is there’s no hard-and-fast answer for every situation. Most people with dementia who remain physically healthy will eventually need the 24/7 support that dementia care provides. Nevertheless, not all people with dementia need dementia care immediately, even if they need additional support. Here’s what you need to know as you weigh your senior living options.
Assisted Living vs. Dementia Care: What’s the Difference?
Both assisted living and dementia care offer support with activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, and getting dressed. The key difference is that dementia care is tailored specifically to the needs of people with advanced dementia, while assisted living caters to people with a wider range of abilities and conditions.
Both types of senior living also offer a wider array of activities and special events than you can get at home, as well as gourmet dining, a beautiful home, and help maintaining that home. The comprehensive support senior living offers can help you lead a happier, healthier retirement regardless of your age, health, or interests. The key difference is that dementia care focuses on activities that can meet the unique cognitive needs of people living with dementia. For example, you or your loved one might participate in music therapy, dementia-friendly crafts, or a support group.
Assisted Living vs. Dementia Care: Choosing Which Is Right for You
People with dementia often have other medical conditions. Sometimes, these conditions affect your ability to live independently well before serious dementia symptoms manifest. If you’re primarily worried about your physical health, assisted living may be the better option. Some other signs that assisted living could be right for you include:
- You need help with activities of daily living, but your memory remains mostly intact.
- You have only minor memory problems, such as word-finding issues.
- You don’t often get lost and are able to think about where and how you want to spend each day.
- You do not have swallowing issues.
- You often feel bored at home, or you worry that your care needs overwhelm your loved ones.
On the other hand, if several of these are true, consider dementia care instead:
- You have difficulty eating or swallowing.
- You cannot safely be left home alone.
- You have wandered, left the stove on, or engaged in other dangerous behaviors.
- Your personality has changed significantly, or they have become aggressive.
- You seem very confused, disconnected from reality, or unable to recognize or remember people.
- You are experiencing psychiatric symptoms of dementia, such as hallucinations or anxiety.
When Is the Right Time to Consider Senior Living?
It’s never too early to consider senior living. Indeed, researching your options shortly after a dementia diagnosis can help you get a plan together and determine how you will pay for senior living. Moving early can also help you adjust to life in a new community, making it easier to transition to dementia care if you eventually need more support. It’s time to explore your senior living options if:
- You have or were recently diagnosed with a chronic or progressive disease such as dementia.
- You live alone.
- You are worried about feeling lonely or isolated at home.
- You are concerned about enjoying your retirement with a chronic illness.
- You will eventually need more help than you can get at home.
- You don’t want a child or other family member to have to be your full-time caregiver.
Every retirement is unique. Arbor believes each senior deserves the brightest possible future, no matter their health or diagnosis. For help choosing the right senior living community for your needs, download our free guide, “Finding a Safe and Comfortable Senior Living Community.”