Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: What’s the Difference?

by | Assisted Living, Memory Care

If you’re considering senior living for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it may seem like you have more questions than answers. Does your loved one need memory care now? Should they move to assisted living first? What does each option cost? We can help you compare assisted living vs. memory care so you can confidently determine the best fit for your loved one.

Understanding Assisted Living

Assisted living is a type of senior living that offers housing as well as lifestyle benefits, plus onsite care and assistance with daily tasks. It’s designed to offer seniors just the right amount of support to help them stay as independent and active as possible. Benefits typically include:

  • Apartments with a range of floor plans from which to choose 
  • A warm, homelike setting with an easy-to-navigate layout for those with limited mobility
  • Personalized care to help with bathing, dressing, eating and medication
  • Onsite medical care for added peace of mind
  • Housekeeping, laundry, and transportation, plus amenities such as restaurant-style dining, a fitness center and an onsite salon
  • An active social calendar with a range of events, activities and outings

While you will have support with daily tasks and onsite medical care, assisted living communities are not equipped for conditions that require round-the-clock care such as what your loved one may need if they are in the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Care Defined

Memory care is a type of senior living specifically designed to nurture and support those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with 24-hour supervised care. You’ll find all the benefits assisted living provides, plus additional features such as:

  • Staff training that includes a deeper understanding of dementia, techniques for managing challenging behaviors and effective communication strategies
  • A lower staff to resident ratio for more individualized care
  • A more secure environment to help prevent wandering, in addition to specific color and lighting usage that promotes a sense of calm
  • Cognitive therapies, structured activities to help residents engage socially and even sensory programs to help cognitive function and give residents purpose
  • A dining program that offers easy to chew options and finger foods to foster independence with assistance available as needed

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care Costs

According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost for a private, one-bedroom in assisted living is $4,051. In terms of memory care, there is little published data on average monthly costs unfortunately because they can vary so greatly. However, typical ranges are $2,000 to $7,000 per month.

How a Continuum of Care can Help

When it comes down to assisted living vs. memory care, you don’t necessarily have to choose one at the exclusion of the other. For example, we have a number of senior living communities that offer a continuum of care on the same campus. 

The benefits here include the ability to start in assisted living early on and transition into memory care as the disease progresses. It can make for an easier transition because your loved one will have continuity of care and still be in familiar surroundings.

This option also offers a solution for couples who want to remain close when one of them has dementia and the other does not as they can remain together without the burden of caregiving.