Portrait of a woman showing her elderly mother different assisted living and memory care places online.


As a senior care advisor, I always get asked about the difference between Assisted Living and Memory Care. A lot of people are confused and do not completely know what type of long-term care option would be best suited for their aging loved ones.

The most common long-term care options today would be Assisted Living and Memory Care. Do you know what the difference is between these 2 types of Senior Care options? Keep reading to get a complete understanding of the different services offered in these 2 most popular long-term care options. Plus find out the average cost for Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities in your area.


Do seniors need long-term care?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, at least 50% of Americans who are 65 years and over will need long-term care. What is Long-term care? Long-term care is the term used to care for people who needs assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which includes bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, transferring, eating and med management. These are all non-medical services or personal care services that the elderly population needs on a daily basis.


Is it time to move to a long-term care facility?

So, when do you know when it’s time to search for a long-term care facility? This will vary but the best way would be to observe your elderly loved one carefully. Ask these questions:

  • Is he or she still active, but unable to perform ADLs without any assistance?
  • Do they struggle with preparing meals or maintaining the house?
  • Do they forget to take their meds?
  • Have they fallen?
  • Do you get worried when your loved one is left alone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then most likely your elderly loved one is no longer able to live independently. This means that you should start exploring the available senior care options in your area for the sake of your loved one’s safety and for peace of mind.


Assisted Living or Memory Care?

How do you know what type of long-term care option to look for? Basically, if your loved one needs help with Activities of daily living, Assisted Living would be the right option, unless your aging loved one is diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Assisted Living communities provide 24-hour care to help with bathing, dressing, toileting, med management and walking or maneuvering around the community. Assisted living caregivers are trained to provided non-medical care assistance to all the residents. People who are diagnosed with Mild-Cognitive Impairments (also known as MCI) are still eligible to live in an Assisted Living Community. Keep in mind though that potential wanders won’t be suitable in this type of care facility since it’s not secured and locked.

On the other hand, if your aging loved one is diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, then it means that Memory Care would be the right senior care option. Memory Care Communities are specifically for people who are diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. 24-hour supervised care is provided 7 days a week, meaning there is always an awake staff who is available to assist the residents.  Caregivers and staff members are well-trained to handle the different type of situations and behaviors that Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients experience.

In addition, memory care communities are secured and locked to keep all their residents, including wanderers safe. The layout for Memory Care communities is usually very simple to avoid confusion and frustration among residents, thus minimizing wandering behaviors. For example, there are several signs all throughout the community to help residents navigate around community.


Cost comparison between Assisted Living and Memory Care

There are several factors that affect the cost like location (city and state), type of room and the care needs. Typically, monthly cost would be more expensive if you choose a senior community that is located in a big city compared to those that are in the rural areas. As we all know, real estate is more expensive in big and popular cities.

The type of room you choose will also affect the price, whether you pick a shared room, a private studio, a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. Usually, Assisted Living communities charge a base rent plus the cost of care. Base rent usually includes the monthly rent, meals and activities. There is an extra charge for care, which is determined upon the assessment of care needs. Some communities charge a certain amount for each level of care, while others have a-la-carte pricing (separate charge for each service).

According to Genworth Financial, Inc. (2021 Report), the average cost of Assisted Living in the U.S is $4,500 per month. As for Memory Care it starts at $5,5000 per month plus the care. The cost of care will depend on the assessment of care needs and the type of room. 

Most Assisted Living and Memory Care communities are usually private pay. They also accept Long-Term Care Insurance. However, some Government Programs may also help pay for these type of long-term care facilities. Please note that programs vary per state. It’s always best to check with your Senior Care Advisor or Senior Centers in your area.

If you need help with Assisted Living or Memory Care Community options, please feel free to contact one of our Expert Senior Care Advisors. We can help you find the right care option based on the care needs, preferred location and your family’s budget. Feel free to call us today at 877-523-6523. We look forward to helping you and your family find the right care options for your aging loved ones.


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