Four assisted living residents are playing dominos together in a recreation room where board games are available.

What Is The Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care?


Growing older means that your mind may not be as sharp as it always used to be. You may find yourself forgetting about minor things though not so badly that it is impacting your life. If this memory loss worsens, however, it’s possible that you could be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, causing severe memory loss and loss of ability to function. This disease is often fatal and is currently one of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with this disease, it is incredibly important that you receive the level of care you need.

As your ability to perform daily tasks worsens, you might consider going into an extended care facility to receive around-the-clock care. With the many varieties of facilities, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. Let’s learn more about memory care and its difference from assisted living.

Memory care vs. assisted living

The difference between assisted living and memory care can be challenging to parse, as they both offer long term care. Choosing the wrong kind of care can result in a time-consuming, expensive move to a different facility, so it is important to know exactly what kind of care you need.

Simply put, assisted living is available for those who only need minor assistance with their day-to-day lives. If you are mostly independent but still need help with dressing or cleaning, assisted living could be a great choice for you. Older adults who need the social support of a community will thrive in an assisted living community.

Memory care facilities are for those who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, providing them support while they battle this condition. These facilities are staffed by specially trained nurses 24 hours a day and allow for constant supervision. The goal of a memory care facility is to assist older adults with dementia through the challenges they experience, providing a stress-free environment to ease the confusion and tension of the disease.

Both memory care and assisted living facilities provide a number of amenities to their residents to help them stay happy and engaged during their time there. These include:

  • Social activities
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Daily meals
  • Transportation
  • Housekeeping
  • Health assessments

What are the signs that it’s time for memory care?

When you or a loved one starts to experience problems with memory it can be difficult to determine whether it is normal forgetfulness or an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are concerned that dementia may be a problem, check for these early signs:

  • Changes in memory. This is one of the most clear and obvious signs of Alzheimer’s disease, marked by a change in memory that is unlike normal forgetfulness. In the early stages, dementia often means forgetting recent events or misplacing belongings. As the disease progresses they may be unable to remember major pieces of information like their address or the names of friends and family.
  • Changes in personality. The distress of losing one’s memory often leads to behavioral changes including anger and sadness. They may also grow suspicious of those around them and refuse to believe anyone.
  • Changes in reasoning. People with Alzheimer’s may find themselves unable to use impulse control or to keep track of spending. Solving puzzles or using complex thought may be difficult or impossible.

Do you or a loved one require the support of an assisted living community?

Contact Culpepper Place. Our Director of Nursing can perform an assessment to help you determine which type of facility is best for your needs.  Our facilities offer many amenities and provide support for you or your loved one as you age.

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