What's the Difference Between Assisted Living & Memory Care?

closeup image of person holding a senior's hand

Some people are under the impression that assisted living and memory care are the same, but this isn't true. Assisted living facilities provide residents with a wide range of services, including help with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, cooking and eating.

On the other hand, memory care facilities offer specialized dementia-specific healthcare to meet all needs of its residents. Memory care aims to reduce or eliminate confusion in those who have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Services may include support groups, life enrichment programs and an environment that reduces anxiety related to memories through specific design features like muted colours and soft lighting. There are many differences between these two types of senior living care options; it's important to research your options before deciding.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities are designed to provide for the needs of seniors who no longer can care for themselves without assistance. These homes work with residents to ensure that they maintain as much independence and dignity while living in their own place, free from all responsibilities except paying rent on time. Services such as nursing, medication management and social programs help these individuals live more comfortably while giving them the choice of how much assistance they would like when performing daily activities.

Seniors don't have any worries about maintaining a property or navigating home repairs since professionals take care of everything! Assisted living provides housing (such as apartments), services, and personal help by staff members so ageing adults may age gracefully into this stage of life where they need more support than ever before but still want some privacy at the end of each day.

Who Can Benefit from Assisted Living?

Older adults who want to be more active but need help with bathing, dressing or using the toilet may benefit from assisted living. Seniors looking for a convenient lifestyle and who don't have time for maintenance tasks like cooking meals will also enjoy this type of community because they can participate in group events without worrying about cleaning up afterward!

What Is Memory Care?

woman consoling senior man

Memory care units are geared towards meeting the needs of seniors with dementia. These specialized spaces provide a safe and structured environment for mental stimulation, emotional support, physical health management, and social activities.

Memory care is designed to meet the particular needs of individuals struggling with various types of dementia (Alzheimer's is most prevalent) and behaviour issues with the help of skilled nursing attendants. There are enriching activities like arts and crafts, music therapy, or yoga every day with supportive supervision from memory-care nurses in these specially created environments to enhance their quality of life.

Who Can Benefit from Memory Care?

Seniors with early-stage dementia may be ok at an assisted living facility, but as the disease progresses, many families opt for memory care. Memory care facilities provide a pleasant environment that is easy to navigate and helps reduce confusion or agitation in those who have Alzheimer's Disease.

Memory-enhancing therapies and specialized care help those with memory loss control their cognitive skills for as long as possible. Those receiving memory care also benefit from round-the-clock care, structured routine, and supervision, enhanced security measures that include secured entrances and exits to prevent wandering.

Is Memory Care Available in Assisted Living?

Memory care is a growing industry that provides specialized care for people with dementia and Alzheimer's. Many assisted living communities have special memory units (normally in a separate wing) to provide 24-hour supervision and all the therapies and amenities these residents need.

This means a senior with early-stage dementia could move from assisted living to memory care within the same assisted living center. This can ease the move and enable ageing adults to keep friendships and staff relationships.

Comparing Assisted Living & Memory Care

The decision to find a long-term care facility for a family member one can be difficult. You have many options, but it's important that you do your research and come to terms with the level of care needed to make the right choice when deciding on what is best for their needs and budget.

factors for assisted living vs memory care

The Staff

Staff at assisted living and memory care facilities are experienced in caring for seniors and supporting residents with day-to-day tasks, trained in safe person handling and incontinence care. Memory care staff also undergo regular training to perform 24-hour, person-centred care and supervision for those with memory problems.

The staff at memory care facilities know how to stop and manage dementia behaviours, like wandering and aggression. They also understand the importance of keeping their memory care residents as independent as possible without neglecting them or giving upon them.

Safety Features

Some assisted living communities have safety features such as in-room emergency alert systems and daily check-ins, but increased safety is a top priority for seniors with memory loss. Wandering, aggression, and falls are common dementia behaviours that can be dangerous to senior residents who often have limited mobility. Memory care facilities provide 24/7 staff supervision and various security measures that make them safer than regular assisted living residences, where people typically live on their own while still receiving assistance from healthcare professionals when needed.

Lifestyle Differences

An assisted living community may offer many amenities such as a gym, beauty salon and barbershop, outdoor spaces like gardens or courtyards, and pet-friendly accommodations for your furry friends! They also have transportation services to help you get around. You can find libraries with bookshelves lining the walls for all sorts of reading material too. The community might even provide an arts and crafts studio where residents could spend their time painting pictures in oil pastels or creating vases out of clay pots.

Memory care communities provide special layouts that make it easier for senior citizens with memory loss to orient themselves in the space without becoming confused about their location when they are exploring.

Memory care facilities offer an array of amenities to help keep seniors from wandering and reduce confusion. Some features include enclosed courtyards or gardens, spas or relaxation rooms, libraries, as well as arts and crafts studios.


Many factors affect the cost of assisted living and memory care, including location, room size, whether space is shared or private. Beyond these considerations, prices can be calculated differently depending on what services you want to include in your loved one's care plan.

To make it easier to navigate through the intricacies of going into long-term residential care, here are some things you should consider when deciding where would best suit their needs:

Assisted living communities: A great option for seniors who need help with daily living activities but don't want to be placed in long-term care. The costs vary, depending on what type of assistance the senior will need and how much they require. Generally, assisted living communities require a base monthly rate that covers:

  • Room and board
  • Three daily meals
  • Most activities
  • Housekeeping
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments

Medical Care Facilities: The care and nursing services that memory care communities offer are specialized, meaning they cost more than the standard assisted living community. Generally, they require a base monthly rate that covers the same commodities as assisted living communities as well as:

  • Specialized care for dementia and memory loss
  • 24-hour care and supervision
  • Secured entrances and exits
  • Memory-enhancing therapies
  • Low staff-to-resident ratio
  • Unique layouts to reduce confusion

How to Decide Between the Two Options

Assisted living may be the best option if memory loss is not an immediate concern. Assisted living facilities are perfect choices for relatively independent and social seniors but may require some help throughout the day to maintain independence. If cognitive decline is of particular concern for your loved one, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they wander frequently?
  • Do they need a lot of direction to complete daily tasks?
  • Do they often take things that are not theirs?
  • Would you feel more comfortable if they had around-the-clock supervision?
  • Do they have mobility issues?
  • Do they tend to get lost in familiar places?
  • Do they get lost in familiar places?
  • Do they leave on stoves or forget to lock doors?

If you've answered yes to these questions, chances are a medical care facility would be best for them. While looking at options, make sure that the facility uses quality products such as the ones sold by MIP Cares.