What are the Differences Between Personal Care, Assisted Living, and Memory Care?

Finding the right care for yourself or a loved one can seem challenging when there are so many different care options.

Understanding how Life Plan Communities and other senior living communities define these levels of care is critical to making the best caregiving decisions. Let’s take a look at what these three terms mean and some examples of the kinds of care offered.

Personal Care

Personal Care is often delivered in a home-like setting and can also be called Residential Home Care or services delivered in an Adult Care Home. Unlike Assisted Living accommodations, Personal Care quarters are often shared, sometimes by up to four residents, and there may be common bathroom or kitchenette facilities. A resident might choose a Personal Care home setting because of a preference for a smaller, more personal home-like feel, opting for a more intimate setting and foregoing the amenities of a larger community.

Personal Care can include a wide range of care services depending on residents’ needs, including meals, housekeeping, transportation, assistance with medication, and help with bathing, hygiene, and use of the bathroom. Social, safety, and nutritional needs are also addressed in a Personal Care setting.

Some Personal Care homes serve residents with particular, specialized needs, such as diabetic or memory care. Aging in place is possible at some Personal Care homes that offer a range of care services.

Personal Care homes are subject to state government regulations and may also be required to follow local ordinances regarding compliance with safety, health, and fire code laws. These homes are not regulated on the federal level.

Assisted Living

Like the care given in a Personal Care home setting, Assisted Living offers residents help with activities of daily life.  Assisted Living quarters, however, are usually private or semi-private apartment homes. Assisted Living apartments have bathrooms, kitchenettes (a microwave and refrigerator), and can be locked by the resident.  

Assisted Living apartment homes are usually one residential option in a continuum of care or Life Plan community. Offering tiered levels of care, these communities often have Independent Living homes, cottages, or apartments and Assisted Living apartment homes. In addition, Life Plan communities are large enough to provide services such as Memory, Respite, Skilled Nursing, and Rehabilitation care.

Extensive facilities and amenities are another reason some seniors prefer a Life Plan community. A heated indoor pool, fitness center, and exercise classes, for example, are often found on Life Plan community campuses, and are helpful in maintaining overall health and rehabilitation, if needed, following injury or surgery.

Greater opportunities for an extended social network are also found at Life Plan communities because of their larger size and greater number of residents. While Personal Care homes offer a more intimate, family-like setting, Life Plan communities have the potential for more varied and extensive social interaction.

Memory Care

Memory Care services can be delivered in a Personal Care home setting or as a free-standing Memory Care Community; however, most often this type of care is part of an Assisted Living Community. The same care a resident would receive in Assisted Living, he or she would receive in Memory Care, with additional care services and other differences to accommodate the specialized needs of older adults with dementia, memory impairment, or Alzheimer’s disease:

  • The building itself may be structured to include safe indoor and outdoor space and additional security
  • Living areas and common space are often designed to be calming and soothing, minimizing clutter and potential for stress
  • Activities focus on memory stimulation and minimization of disease progression
  • Staff receive additional training in delivering Memory Care services

Personal Care, Assisted Living, and Memory Care are all related senior living care services. Understanding the differences among them can help in choosing the right care setting for yourself or a loved one.

At The Heritage of Green Hills, behind our doors you’ll find a community buzzing with activity. In fact, nearly 90 percent of residents are involved in some kind of physical activity, thanks to our community-wide wellness program, Well by DesignSM. We work with each resident to determine interests, hobbies and goals they’d like to pursue, and then create customized plans to help encourage a well-rounded and engaging life. The bottom line is, we want residents to stay independent longer. And the best way to do that is by living well.


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