Memory Care vs. Assisted Living: 4 Key Differences

Deciding where your loved ones will spend most of their time during their golden years can be stressful, especially if they have conditions that require extra care and attention.

Some of these conditions requiring extra care could be Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, physical limitations, or other things associated with advanced age.

Facilities that address these conditions include Memory Care and Assisted Living.

Both Memory Care and Assisted Living are phrases that are used interchangeably when in reality they are both very different. 

It’s important to understand the difference between these two in order to provide your loved ones the best care possible for them and their needs.

We want to help you navigate the decisions surrounding care for your aging loved ones, so you can rest assured knowing they’re receiving proper care.

Here is a simplified list of 4 key differences between Memory Care and Assisted Living. 

What is Memory Care?

Memory Care patients are individuals that have serious memory-related needs. These include anything from Alzheimer’s to dementia and other memory-related conditions.

It is important to provide extra care and resources to Memory Care residents because of the risks their conditions can pose to them. 

Unfortunately, these residents are prone to behaviors that can cause confusion or accidents, such as wandering or being disoriented due to a lack of memory of where they are or who they are with. 

However, with sufficient care from a dedicated staff, Memory Care patients are able to live much more peaceful, safe, and fulfilling lives during their golden years.

What is Assisted Living? 

Assisted Living can be seen more as a community made up of residents that are, for the most part, living independently.

While these residents can often be a lot more independent than our Memory Care residents, they still require a certain level of assistance depending on their needs. 

From meal prepping to medication intake, Assisted Living staff and resources provide residents with support in their day-to-day life, creating a strong sense of community and care. 

4 Key Differences 

1. Staff Training

Both Memory Care and Assisted Living staff are highly experienced in aiding and supporting residents in their day-to-day lives.

A big differentiator between the two categories is that Memory Care staff are trained to assist residents 24/7. Their care is a lot more person-centered, helping residents with memory loss to maintain cognitive skills, a sense of self, and a higher quality of life for as long as possible.

If you, your family, or your loved ones are hesitant about the concerns that memory loss might cause in their new living situation, you can rest assured that Memory Care staff is required for continuing their education throughout their careers. They’re devoted to growing as professionals to make sure their patients are getting absolutely everything they need. 

2. Activities and Therapy Options

Assisted Living offers their residents plenty of social activities to encourage and foster a sense of community and belonging amongst their residents. Some facilities even provide their residents with planned activities such as exercise classes, book clubs, bingo, karaoke, organized outings, etc. All these activities are extremely beneficial for the residents’ well-being and quality of life. 

Memory Care, on the other hand, provides both community and solo activities, depending on what the resident needs and are comfortable with. These activities are implemented in a way that encourages and maintains cognitive abilities. They also revolve around predictable routines to provide comfort and stability to their residents. 

Some of the therapy resources provided by Memory Care units include music therapy, art therapy, pet therapy, and other peaceful yet stimulating activities.

3. Safety Precautions

Assisted Living offers some different kinds of safety precautions for its residents. Some of these features can include emergency alert systems and daily check-ins from nurses, and sometimes even limited kitchens to prevent accidents. 

Memory Care units have an understandably higher concern for residents getting lost or falling, this is why their safety precautions are tighter than those of Assisted Living units. Some of these features can include locked entrances and exits, keypad entries, doorbells, etc. All of these help to reduce the risks of residents wandering or getting lost.

Unit layouts, designs, and decorations tend to be very simple and minimal to avoid any confusion or sensory overload. These kinds of features allow residents to be a lot more independent, while still staying safe and healthy. 

4. Costs

While there are many factors that can affect the pricing of these facilities, there are still some standard guidelines and practices that can help you make a decision. 

Assisted Living facilities tend to charge for different services such as housing, food, activities, outings, and even housekeeping and transportation. An average Assisted Living facility can cost anywhere from $3,000-$6,000 per month, depending on factors such as location, amenities, and amount of assistance needed. 

Since Memory Care units require a lot more assistance on a daily basis, they tend to be a little bit pricier. Even though their price is a little higher, there are government resources such as Medicaid that can help, depending on what is available in your state. Memory Care can cost anywhere from $3,800-$7400 per month, depending on various factors. 

St. Ann’s Commitment to Assisted Living and Memory Care

St. Ann’s is dedicated to providing safe, loving, committed, quality care for all of our residents, in facilities that support and empower them to live out their golden years with dignity.

Faith guides our mission to provide a loving and spiritual community for older adults. With roots in the Catholic Church, we are inspired by our Carmelite Sisters’ foundation of fraternity, service, and prayer.

With a commitment to provide the best possible care to those with cognitive loss or those who just need to live with a little assistance, we welcome those of all faiths with open arms, treating each resident with the care and compassion they deserve.

Learn more about our Commitment to Dementia Care