Make an Informed Decision: Assisted Living or Memory Care

July 31, 2018

emerald-crest-home.jpgOne of the toughest decisions families have to make when faced with a loved one who can no longer live independently at home is knowing what type of care is needed. Luckily, the Twin Cities, Minnesota senior housing market has been growing at a much faster pace than the rest of the country. Ranked as “The Best State to Retire In” by AARP, Minnesota offers a wide variety of services and senior housing options which helps to ease the stress caregivers are feeling when trying to find the best care for Mom or Dad.

The Emerald Crest by Augustana Care model of senior care is born from the belief that individuals with cognitive issues are unique and can grow in our setting which includes positive relationships, participation in daily care and meaningful activities that promote their success. We find the best way to assist each individual resident in living with his or her condition.

To help caregivers make an informed decision, let’s take a closer look at assisted living and memory care, two of the fastest growing types of senior housing, to help you understand the difference between the two and know what to look for:


Assisted Living: This type of senior housing bridges the gap between living independently and living in a nursing home. Assisted living communities typically offer a combination of housing, meals, supportive services, and health care while providing 24-hour staff, recreational activities, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation services.

Memory Care:  Memory care communities are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Memory care often exist within various types of residential care and most often are cluster settings where individuals with dementia are grouped together on one floor or a unit within a larger care community. 


The layout, décor and amenities tend to vary the most between different assisted living communities. A majority are apartment-style complexes with multiple floors and various styles and sizes of apartments. The layout and design of most memory care units will also vary with the most important things to keep in mind being the overall environment. When looking for a good fit for your loved one, make sure the floor plan is open, the décor is calming, and the security features are at all entrances and exits. It is best to have an overall environment that is designed to better suit Alzheimer’s and dementia residents so behaviors are reduced and navigation is simple.

Activities and Programs

Assisted living communities should provide a wide variety of recreational activities and programs. Typically, these are offered to the whole community and easily accessible within the facility. For offsite outings, transportation is often available. With a successful memory care setting, structure is key. You will find more specialized activities for individuals (depending on the stage of dementia), as well as activities offered more often throughout the day. Offering activities and programs seven days a week, including evening hours, will help with reducing anxiety and sundowners. Outside therapies, such as music therapy and pet therapy are important supplemental activities to offer. Activities need to be led by trained staff who will invite and escort residents to help encourage their participation. 

Level of Care

This area is very similar in which both assisted living and memory care communities will offer services including daily living assistance, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and medication reminders. However, in memory care units these services are performed more often and staff is trained on special care approaches and a higher level of supervision is consistently provided throughout the day.

There is more to consider and research when making an informed decision on the care of your aging loved one, but hopefully this offers a start. To learn more, click here.

With four locations in Burnsville, Minnetonka, Victoria, and Shakopee, Minnesota, Emerald Crest by Augustana Care senior care communities are truly inspired by our residents and families. With a deep knowledge of memory care, we offer a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions. This experience allows us to created opportunities and personalized care for your loved one that goes beyond conventional senior memory care. Contact us today if you have questions or would like to schedule a tour. 

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I can’t say enough about the staff that took care of my father. They were all so loving and really did care for him.

— Bev, daughter of Emerald Crest resident