Learn & Grow/Assisted Living/What Is the Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living?
Assisted Living, Memory Care, Resources for Caregivers, Resources for Seniors

What Is the Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living?

Certain aspects of life can become more challenging as we age. Many of us will need assistance with self-care, mobility, and other daily activities at some point in our lives. Isolation is also a concern, as friends and family members become more distant or a spouse passes away. If this sounds like a familiar situation for you or a loved one, it may be time to consider finding a senior living community that offers amenities, health services, and a chance to connect with others–all in one convenient location. 

Retirement communities can be a vibrant alternative to living alone, providing the 24/7 assistance older adults may need, along with stimulating opportunities for friendships and other social interactions. As you search for a community, it’s important to know which living style will best suit you or your loved one’s needs. Luxury senior living communities offer resort-style living, along with on-campus options like assisted living and memory care. But which supported living option is right for you or your loved one?

To help you understand which option may be best, we’re unpacking the differences between these two common senior living options. 

Memory Care vs Assisted Living

When communities provide “assisted living” and “memory care,” it’s natural to assume they are separate living options. However, while considering the differences between assisted living and memory care, there’s also an overlap that can be helpful. Let’s explore the basic definitions of each before diving into pivotal differences. 

What Is Assisted Living for Seniors?

In general, an assisted living facility is designed to assist individuals who need help with their day-to-day tasks but don’t need extensive nursing care. For the most part, these seniors live self-sufficiently in their residence, with a health aide or other health companion on hand as needed for bathing, dressing, and grooming help. These seniors are free to enjoy dining, fitness, and other socialization activities within the community.

When Is It Time for Assisted Living?

For those with mild to moderate memory impairment and who don’t need specialized memory care, assisted living can be a good choice. It’s an overlap that allows a measure of independence in supportive surroundings. However, there will come a time when a person affected by dementia needs full-time care in a more secure setting. Some assisted living communities are designed with the mild dementia patient in mind. They generally provide greater supervision and security than the rest of the community. Team members there are also trained to respond to those who need support for mild memory loss.

Senior man being helped up by a nurse

What Is Memory Care for Seniors?

While individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia may not have many medical problems, they do need support for daily activities, and this need will intensify as their illness progresses. A striking difference between assisted living and memory care is the specialized level of structure and support. Team members in a memory care center receive special training that equips them to respectfully and humanely direct residents to appropriate behavior or activity and keep them safe. Memory care residents participate in activities such as music, art, games, and reading that stimulate their memory and slow the progression of their disease.

Quick Facts: Detailed Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Care 

  • Cost: Due to the specialized dementia care offered in a memory care center, costs are generally higher than for assisted living.
  • Size: Luxury assisted living communities vary widely in size, from ones providing for less than a dozen residents to those housing hundreds. Memory care communities also vary in size, but ones with over 100 residents are rare.
  • Setting: Assisted living residences are typically private apartments or homes with community services and amenities openly accessible. Memory care facilities are designed specifically for people with dementia, placing an extra emphasis on security. Indoor areas allow for safe wandering and social gatherings. Outdoor areas allow residents to enjoy fresh air without leaving the property.
  • Medication management: Regulations vary from state to state, but individuals in assisted living may usually keep and self-administer medications. In memory care, residents receive assistance from trained team members in taking medications in the correct dosage and at regular times.
  • Staffing ratios: One of the main differences between assisted living and memory care is the staff-to-resident ratio. The staff-to-resident ratio is typically higher in a memory care facility, enabling more frequent check-ins with residents.

Programs: Assisted living team members provide residents with 24/7 support for activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, and ambulation. Memory care team members assist residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Senior living residents sitting around a table

Find the Care You Need at Village on The Green Senior Living

No matter what care option you choose, living at Village on the Green with differences you won’t find anywhere else. With our Life Care benefits, you’ll protect your estate from the unpredictable and constant rising cost of health care. Our new assisted living expansion supplements the home care services we currently offer, redefining assisted living care with individualized services in a luxurious, homey setting. Health services in our Health & Wellness Center have been awarded the coveted Florida Gold Seal from the Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care

We also offer a uniquely personalized, state-of-the-art memory care program, where team members take the time to get to know each resident — their likes, dislikes, and life histories. Plus, our culture of warmheartedness, compassion, and genuine caring supports not just residents, but their loved ones too. Do you have questions about assisted living? Would you like to learn about our unique approach to memory care? Reach out to us using the form at the bottom of this page.

Related Stories