What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care

As the ones near and dear to you keep getting older, it’s recommended that you start looking out for options that can provide care and amenities to your old ones when they aren’t able to. There are many options for aged people to live in such as assisted living, geriatric home care, etc. However, the two most prominent living options, and a majority of times the most viable, are considered to be either assisted living or memory care.

Though the matter of the fact is there is often an underlying confusion about the nature of these elderly living homes. What exactly separates an assisted living facility from a memory care home? Both facilities offer various living amenities and options to elderly people such as extensive staff care, regular meals, and health care for those with any mental or physical ailments. However, memory care focuses more on patients with mental impairments providing them all essential care that is required for someone with Alzheimer’s and all other various forms of dementia.

According to Assured Assisted Living, there are currently 5.7 million adults living with Alzheimer’s in the US alone. Dementia is a very serious mental disease that needs special care for individuals to even live properly. This care can only be provided by the specially trained and medically equipped staff that are in service of memory care homes instead of assisted living facilities who only offer rudimentary cognitive care.

Apart from these, there are several notable factors that set out assisted living differently than memory care and we recommend you note them down so that you make an educated decision for your aged loved one. These differences are –

Security and safety

Source: harborchase

All elderly home facilities have basic security personnel assigned at their facility. Mental care homes provide more security in the forms of their facility layout, professionally trained staff and care keepers, and also improved visual designs to help all elders with Alzheimer’s. Assisted living centers, on the other hand, are great for convenience and ease of life but they don’t take into account the various mental conditions an elderly patient is suffering from.

People suffering from dementia often have anxiety, can wander around aimlessly, and have a high chance of falling. Memory care homes ensure the safety of dementia patients by assigning more staff to a lesser number of residents to keep the staff-to-resident ratio low, design the facility in a way that dementia patients don’t fall, and keep a 24/7 check on the patients to ensure they don’t go wandering around the facility.

Staff capability and training

The staff in assisted living homes are trained to be friendly and keep an eye on the entire community. Often, one staff member is assigned for an entire group to supervise and take action in case anything happens. This makes assisted living homes a viable option if your elderly loved one is not suffering from mental ailments and just needs basic care.

However, if they are suffering from dementia, then keeping them in memory care will be the wisest option – you’ll be giving them to professionally trained hands who know exactly how to care for dementia patients. The staff in memory care homes undergo extensive and very thorough training from which they emerge out as professionals who are capable of handling any kind of elderly dementia patient. This professional staff can soothe your aged loved ones in times of anxiety, be with them a majority of the time and help them with any daily life task they are having trouble with.

Environmental design and layout


Assisted living homes are often designed to be as original as possible to real-life communities with the addition of staff and other specialized amenities. This ensures they can still feel as if they are living in their own home which provides a sense of comfort and safety to them. Assisted living homes also come with various amenities like pools, gyms, libraries, etc.

Memory care has all these amenities and more but gives up convenience and staying original to real-life societies. For the safety of elderly dementia patients, doors and windows are often locked at night so they don’t wander the premises. All elderly ones at memory care institutions are supervised regularly and strictly. As stated earlier, the layout is also designed to reduce the risks of dementia patients tripping and falling over. Many memory care homes are also often known to use color-coded walls and rooms so dementia patients can remember better which room is where.

Nature of activities


People suffering from dementia can strongly benefit from therapies and activities designed for them. Memory care homes have plenty of activities like these to support the living of an elderly individual suffering from dementia. Various therapies like music therapy, which can soothe down anxiety and worry, and art therapy, where people with dementia can paint and draw as they wish so their mental skills don’t deteriorate are incorporated for elderly people in memory care homes. They are also motivated to join the classes of any hobbies they like to keep them busy and safe.

Assisted living facilities don’t provide any such therapies or activities because they aren’t specifically designed to cater to the needs and wants of a person with dementia. What they are designed for is making sure the elderly citizens feel at home, provide basic cognitive support when needed, and help them accomplish their daily living tasks if any problem occurs. Residents at assisted living homes are encouraged to enjoy the various amenities provided by the assisted living home facility within the limits of safety and supervision.


By now you must be well aware that memory care is simply the better option for any elderly person suffering from dementia. However, you must know that all the professional services and care that are provided to care for dementia patients also cost a bit higher, about a $1000 difference, than assisted living homes.

Assisted living homes are thus cheaper while also providing many great amenities and supervision for your aged loved ones, but they aren’t equipped with handling severely affected dementia patients. It’s vital that you consider your monthly budget, understand the needs of your aged loved one and choose the necessary facility.



All aged ones need a new home that can take care of them at some point in their life, but which home exactly is your decision to make. We hope by providing the differences between assisted living and memory care, we helped you in making an informed decision and if we did, please consider following our website for regular updates as it will help us out immensely.

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