Memory Care vs Assisted Living: The Key Differences You Need to Know

Researching options in the senior living industry can seem slightly overwhelming at first. It appears like there are so many options for care, and it can be hard knowing what’s right for your loved one.

If you’re looking for living options for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, memory care living is often the best choice.

But, assisted living communities can seem attractive too. This is especially if additional services are on offer.

If you want to know which option is best for your situation, we’re here to help. Here’s memory care vs assisted living.

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?

Assisted living and memory care typically provide many of the same services. This includes housing, food, and assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, grooming, and using the toilet.

But, memory care also helps seniors experiencing memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia. This means memory care services and staff are well-equipped to help seniors live happy and high-quality lives for as long as possible.

Understanding these critical differences between assisted living and memory care is the first step in making the right choice for your loved one.

Elder man getting help with dementiaSpecialized Staff

Assisted living facilities often include safety features. These include in-room emergency alert systems and daily check-ins. But, in memory care communities, safety is a top concern and a massive priority.

The staff members in memory care communities are all trained and are required by most states to attend extended training classes. These classes include learning the science of dementia to empathy activities to show what it’s like living with the condition.

Cape Albeon Can Help


Assisted living communities sometimes provide activities for residents. But, memory care facilities offer a routinized calendar of activities to keep residents relaxed, happy, and engaged.

This is because people living with dementia are susceptible to wandering around, becoming aggressive, and falling over. Memory care communities must provide a safe and secure environment with locked entrances and exits to prevent wandering.

Many communities also have other safety features to keep moving residents safe, including keypad entries, exits, and doorbells. Plus, many memory care facilities provide calming therapies to assist with confusion and irritation that can lead to aggression and self-harm.

Layouts in memory care communities are typically designed to prevent falls that may also be caused by confusion or obstacles.


Elderly woman performing memory care exercises

Assisted living communities sometimes provide activities for residents, but memory care facilities typically offer a routinized calendar of activities to keep residents relaxed, happy, and engaged.

People living with dementia often show expressive behaviors when they’re scared or worried. Planned activities can help avoid these concerns and worries. Instead, the activities keep them busy and involved with their environment.

Memory care communities offer both group and individual activities for residents. The activities and therapies are planned to help seniors maintain cognitive skills. They’re scheduled to provide comfort and routine for residents.

Many memory care communities offer activities and therapies tailored to residents’ interests. They often cover all aspects of health, such as mental, physical, and spiritual.

But, assisted living is designed for active and aware seniors who may need assistance with everyday tasks. Assisted living communities usually provide plenty of opportunities for residents to socialize. Some social activities offered include exercise classes, bingo, karaoke, book clubs, outings, and more.


Assisted living facilities usually offer three meals per day to residents, often in a social setting for seniors to mingle.

Memory care communities also offer meals in social settings. However, they also provide an environment that’s favorable to independence and dignity for those experiencing dementia.

Dementia can result in problems and complications with nutrition. Because of this, memory care facilities provide specialized diets. This ensures that residents are consuming enough calories and are eating the right foods for their health.

Residents are usually offered many choices when it comes to food. This gives them control over what they eat while also eating in an environment that feels safe and provides adaptive plates or utensils.


Memory care facilities provide an environment that’s specially designed to the requirements and safety concerns for those with dementia and other memory issues.

Assisted living communities don’t usually offer these additional measures. This means these facilities may be unsafe for people living with dementia.

Memory Care vs Assisted Living: Which Is for You?

Age-related memory loss is expected for every senior, but dementia isn’t a typical part of aging. Often, the early signs of dementia and other memory conditions are easily unnoticed. If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it’s essential to make the right decision about care options, which is why you should research memory care vs assisted living.

For some seniors, moving into a memory care facility that can accommodate their needs will bring them peace of mind. Others may not mind moving several times and prefer a gradual adjustment in care. These people may choose to move to an assisted living community and gradually transition to memory care.

If you’re still feeling stuck, think about how much help your loved one requires to live safely and happily. Consider their diagnosis and what their medical needs are, and any changes to expect in the future.

Then, check out some communities for a better understanding of the available options.

At Cape Albeon, we offer both assisted living and memory care communities.  Contact us for more information and come learn more about all we offer!

Request a tour today!