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Nov 22, 2022 11:00:00 AM | 5 Min Read

The Difference Between Memory Care & Assisted Living

Posted By Vista Springs
The Difference Between Memory Care & Assisted Living

As we age, it’s common for us to lose some of our independence. This is a natural part of aging. That said, some of us may need assistance as we get older. From cleaning around the house to making food, these common activities can become much more challenging. This is why some adults join an assisted living community. However, a different level of care may be needed if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia. This type of care is referred to as memory care.

In this post, we’ll discuss memory care and assisted living, including the key differences to consider.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care is designed to help those experiencing Alzheimer’s or dementia. This care service involves a team of specialists with experience in caring for those with this serious health condition. Memory care focuses on building a safe, structured environment to support these patients. Similar to an assisted living community, the staff still help with day-to-day tasks, like cooking and cleaning, but they also provide care for the unique needs of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. For example, these memory care professionals typically check in with these patients more often and provide extra support and structure.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a more hands-off approach to care. These communities are more like apartment complexes, where residents live independent lives. As residents may need help with simple tasks, like taking medication and cleaning around the house, the staff provide this help as needed. Also, assisted living involves hosting events and social activities, which is great for socializing and meeting like-minded people. If your loved one needs a little help with day-to-day activities, but still lives an independent lifestyle, assisted living could be a great solution! Also, some assisted living communities offer memory care services, which makes for an easier transition into a different level of care.

Memory Care & Assisted Living: 5 Key Differences

While memory care and assisted living share some similarities, there are many differences to consider.

Check out the five key differences below:


Many assisted living communities offer three meals a day in a social setting. As memory care services also provide this, the food and environment are based on the needs of a memory care patient. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may have a certain diet to help with their condition. Additionally, these patients may sit in a calm area with less noise and fewer stressors. It’s also common for these patients to have choices with their meals, which helps them retain control over their diet. Memory care is focused on providing dining solutions that make the patient more comfortable.

Team Training

Both assisted living communities and memory care facilities have a similar team, including nurses and nursing assistants. However, memory care involves the specific skill set needed to properly care for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Also, this team undergoes specialized training to ensure they’re ready to provide proper care. These memory care specialists will learn how to help a patient with certain difficulties the patient may face, such as trouble swallowing or problems with wandering. As it’s common for these patients to wander, most memory care facilities are built with special door alarm systems.

Specialized Activities

Another key difference is that memory care focuses on providing certain activities to help dementia patients live with their condition and find relief. For example, music therapy is a beloved activity by many dementia patients. This type of therapy actually allows these patients to access different parts of their brains, which can be extremely beneficial. As assisted living is more focused on entertaining its residents, memory care is tailored toward dementia-specific activities to cater to the unique cognitive needs of these patients.

Specific Environments

Memory care also involves environments different from assisted living. For example, as wandering can be a problem for dementia patients, these facilities may have alarm systems in place to prevent patients from wandering off the property. Also, while those suffering from dementia have challenges with all five senses, motion-sensor lights and one-touch sinks are also common. These allow for greater independence, more safety, and fewer stressors for these patients. If you go to an assisted living community, you most likely won’t see these extra measures.


Cost is another consideration to make. As memory care is a more detailed and hands-on approach to care, these services generally cost more than assisted living. However, it all depends on which facility you choose and the level of care needed.

Memory Care & Assisted Living at Vista Springs

Deciding between assisted living or memory care can be a difficult choice. If your loved one suffers from dementia and has difficulty with daily activities, memory care services might be the right decision.

If you’re searching for one of these communities in Michigan or Ohio, look no further than Vista Springs! We’re happy to provide memory care assisted living, which means we offer both care services in one! Contact us today to learn more.

Contact Vista Springs

Topics: Care Services, All About Assisted Living

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