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Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: Everything You Need to Know accent

March 14, 2023 | By

If you’re interested in finding the right combination of independent living and specialized support for you or your loved one, a senior living community can be the ideal solution. Knowing what level of support you or your loved one may need is crucial as you work toward this important decision.

Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Both assisted living and memory care provide residents with the support needed to enjoy living as independently as possible. Both are important to consider as you and your family weigh options, but they’re not interchangeable. The primary difference between memory care and assisted living is the level and type of support provided. 

What is assisted living?

Assisted living balances independence and support. Residents typically live in private apartments and enjoy common spaces for dining and socializing. Trained team members offer personalized, tailored care when and if it’s needed, including assistance with medication regimens, personal care, and mobility.

What is memory care?

Memory care, also called memory support, shares some similarities with assisted living but is intended for residents living with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease — a condition that affects about one in nine adults 65 and older. Dementia often presents unique challenges when a person lives independently. Memory care allows residents living with memory deficits to enjoy fulfilling lifestyles supported by team members specifically qualified to understand their needs.

What are the differences between assisted living and memory care?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key differences between assisted living and memory care so you can determine the appropriate option for you or your loved one.


Both assisted living and memory care promote a safe, supportive environment for residents. However, memory support includes a higher level of team member supervision and safeguards to prevent common issues like wandering. In a memory support household, residents benefit from 24/7 support in the comfort of a homelike environment rather than a clinical setting.

Team Training and Expertise

All our team members are trained to care for residents and help with daily activities. However, memory support team members are specially trained to work with residents living with dementia. Environments categorized as licensed “chronic confusion and dementing illness” (CCDI) households employ team members who work with residents to manage common challenges, such as disorientation and anxiety, while serving with positivity and providing appropriate intellectual stimulation, opportunities for connection, and comfort.

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Living Arrangements

Both assisted living and memory care emphasize independence and support and provide a range of amenities to make your new home as comfortable as possible. However, assisted living apartments may include private living spaces and kitchenettes. In a memory care household, residents have private rooms and enjoy communal living and dining spaces.

Wellness Therapies and Social Programming

Both senior living options offer plenty of activities for residents. Individual and group programming — such as fitness classes, book clubs, and more — make each day engaging. The notable difference is that memory care activities may focus on the specific needs of residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. For example, music therapy can be especially enriching for memory care residents, as it can replace feelings of anxiety with familiarity and comfort.

Financial Costs

Various factors determine the cost of senior living, one of which is the level of support offered. Memory care generally costs more than assisted living because it involves additional, specialized care. As you budget for senior living costs, consider that both assisted living and memory support can eliminate or minimize some costs you or your loved one may be used to paying now, such as food and home maintenance expenses. Insurance and other sources of financial support may also make senior living arrangements more affordable.

Choosing the Right Solution for You or Your Loved One

Choosing between memory care and assisted living depends on a few factors. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How independent is your loved one?
  • How much help with the activities of daily living does your loved one need?
  • Is your loved one demonstrating signs of memory loss?
  • Has your loved one become disoriented or begun to wander?
  • Has your loved one been diagnosed with a form of dementia?

If your loved one experiences dementia-related challenges, memory support will likely be the best fit for their needs. However, if the challenges they experience are related to physical or age-related limitations rather than cognitive complications, then assisted living may provide all the support they need and afford greater independence. 

Assisted living and memory care are just two valuable options among many other senior living solutions. Discover the best solution for your loved one by taking this short senior living assessment.

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