Alzheimer's Assisted Living vs. Alzheimer's care in the home

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, the choices facing his/her family members are often overwhelming. Often, the first choice is to provide care to his/her in the home, as comfort is of utmost importance. Also, many family members fear disorienting their loved one by moving them to a different location, and want to keep familiarity and routines in place to offset the symptoms of Alzheimer's. It may be convenient to provide Alzheimer's care if someone lives in the home too. Many families hire providers in the community to come into the home to provide dementia care while they are at work or absent. It may especially make sense to provide care in the home in the earliest stages of this disease, but depending on the situation this may not be the best option forever.

With symptoms worsening over time, they can go unnoticed by the people who see him/her on a daily basis until something serious happens. Likewise, caregivers may find it stressful to provide enough support to keep the person entertained and engaged in interesting activities. For someone who is frail, significantly disoriented for periods of time, and is unable to consistently perform personal care and daily routines, an Alzheimer's assisted living facility or dementia care unit may be the safest and/or most beneficial option.

An Alzheimer's care unit, also referred to as a Memory care unit, is able to provide medical attention and care 24 hours a day. Memory care units are often housed in nursing homes which are located near assisted living facilities, while others are located within assisted living communities.

Safety is paramount in Alzheimer's assisted living units. They are designed to protect residents from wandering and confusion related to one's surroundings. Memory units include safety features like locks on windows and secured doors, a clutter-free environment, low staff-to-patient ratios, and staff trained in Alzheimer's care. Environmental cues, such as color coded rooms and bright lighting, should be in place to assist people in navigating independently.

Memory units will often provide sensory stimulation, all the while seeking to provide opportunities for residents' independence. Behavior management is important too, and should be tailored for people living with dementia or Alzheimer's. Lastly, an active calendar with "no fail" activities is a must, building on people's strengths. In these ways, an Alzheimer's care unit is often better equipped to adequately provide care to someone with dementia or Alzheimer's than in one's home.