Memory Care vs Assisted Living: Which One Is Right for Your Loved One?

The number of Americans over the age of 65 will double over the next 40 years. This means more families will face the tough decision of where their aging loved one should live. For many, the decision becomes quickly overwhelming with the different community and facility options.

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This guide will help you decide between memory care vs. assisted living options.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community provides aging seniors support while allowing them to live independently.

Residents live in a small apartment with a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. The staff can provide support with daily tasks like cleaning, cooking, and medication management.

What Is Memory Care?

A memory care facility provides its residents with a more intensive level of care.

The residents live in small units that are typically just a bedroom and en-suite bathroom. The residents have access to large community spaces.

What Are the Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

The level of care at memory care facilities is much greater and more hands-on than at an assisted living facility.

The resident-to-staff ratio is much smaller at a memory care facility. The staff has more intensive training in working with and caring for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s.


Assisted living communities look and feel like apartments while memory care facilities do not. They tend to have a more medical feel because they provide more intensive medical services.

Memory care units also have features that help the residents to feel calmer and more secure. This could include larger windows to bring in more natural light. There are lots of calming colors throughout.

You will see larger signs to help residents know where they are and feel less confused while moving about the memory care space.

Level of Care

These facilities also have multiple levels of care for elderly residents. This helps each resident transition from an independent living situation to one that provides more support. Dementia can cause stress and anxiety as patients experience confusion and memory loss.

Safety and Security

The residents at assisted living facilities tend to have more freedom. While those living in assisted living memory care-focused facilities have more safety and security measures in place. This prevents the residents from wandering off unattended.

How Are They Similar?

Memory care isn’t always a stand-alone service.

Often, a facility will offer both assisted living and memory care. There will be one building or wing where the residents live independently. Then there’s another building or wing where the memory care residents live.

Cost Comparison

The cost of assisted living facilities can vary greatly depending on where you are in the country. Monthly costs can range from $3,000 to $6,000 per month.

Memory care services are more labor-intensive and require more from the staff and facility. These extras increase the monthly cost.

Choosing Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

If you are considering memory care vs. assisted living for your elderly loved one, it’s best to focus on their needs. This will help you determine which type of facility offers the level of care and assistance that they need for a happy and fulfilling life.

Learn more about making the best lifestyle for your elderly loved one from our other lifestyle articles.

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