Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Memory Support
Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Posted: August 16, 2022

As you search for long-term care for an aging loved one, you’ll likely find several options. Older adult care varies in terms of amenities, care, staff training and costs.

Memory support, often known as memory care, is a popular and fast-growing type of care, as is assisted living. But what’s the difference between these two living options? Keep reading to learn the unique benefits each level of care provides and how to choose the best one for your loved one.

What Is Assisted Living?

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living helps older adults with activities of daily living (ADLs), independence, companionship and security in a home-like setting. This level of care is designed for those who seek help with everyday self-care activities but also desire to maintain their freedom and independence.

Assisted living communities typically consist of townhomes, apartments or condominiums. Residents can take care of themselves but might need extra support with daily activities. Assisted living communities are an excellent option for your loved one if they need just a little extra help, since professional caregivers can provide as much or as little assistance as they need.




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They offer nutritious meals, communal spaces and transportation to social outings. Residents can appreciate plenty of life enrichment opportunities to keep them connected and engaged with their neighbors. Exciting activities and classes might include game nights, art classes, musical entertainment, exercise and more.

Assisted Living Services

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 70% of adults older than 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. In a residential community, team members are always available to provide around-the-clock care and support whenever needed. Residents can receive personal help with ADLs, including bathing, getting dressed and taking medications.

Assisted living communities also provide a range of services and amenities, such as:

  • Maintenance
  • Nutritious meals
  • Full-service spas
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Transportation and concierge services
  • Therapy and exercise classes
  • Special interest groups, like book clubs
  • Wellness and educational programs

In assisted living communities, older adults can look forward to a full calendar of social, wellness and inspirational programs. Social outings and events help keep residents active and engaged with the community, supporting their mental and physical health goals.

What Is Memory Care?

Many people who require long-term care will develop cognitive decline or memory loss. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates over 55 million people worldwide have dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases diagnosed a year.

Like assisted living, memory support communities offer help with activities of daily living. Team members at memory support communities are specially trained to understand those living with cognitive challenges. They’ll employ skills and strategies to support residents so they can enjoy an easier, more meaningful life.

Memory Support Services

Memory Support Services

Memory support communities and assisted living share many of the same features, including resident-style living and communal areas. However, memory support provides more specialized assisted living to meet the needs of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related conditions. Communities include additional safety features to ensure those living with cognitive challenges are secure and cared for under 24/7 supervision.


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Life enrichment offered in memory support communities tend to have a therapeutic focus. For instance, they may provide music therapy to help those with memory issues since music has been known to elicit memories and enhance communication for older adults.

Caregivers at memory support communities have the expertise to effectively manage behaviors associated with cognitive challenges, such as aggression and wandering. They can also ensure residents appreciate a balance between independence and support, providing compassionate care as needed.

Similarities Between Assisted Living and Memory Care

Memory support and assisted living communities provide many of the same services, including:

  • Help with ADLs like grooming and bathing
  • Housing
  • Meal service
  • Care coordination
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Medication management
  • Transportation to appointments

Assisted living and memory support communities will also provide enriching activities for older adults, such as exercise classes, music or art therapy.

Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Support

So, what is the difference between memory care and assisted living? Expect the following differences between the two:

  • Different levels of support: Memory support and assisted living communities provide many of the same amenities and services. Still, memory support specializes in caring for older adults with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and related conditions. These communities add another level of support to help older adults manage their day-to-day lives and receive help with cognitive challenges.
  • Different staff-to-resident ratio: With a higher staff-to-resident percentage than assisted living, memory support generally provides more one-on-one attention to residents throughout the day.
  • Different layouts and design features: Memory support communities also include unique layouts and design features to reduce confusion. For instance, they may consist of obscure exits, color-coded walls to navigate easier and memory markers outside residents’ doors to help them feel at home.

How to Know What Your Loved One Needs

How to Know What Your Loved One Needs

Assisted living is an excellent option if your loved one needs extra help, such as assistance with everyday tasks. If your older family member needs memory support most of the time or requires 24/7 supervision, memory support is your best bet.

While assisted living is a wonderful option for older adults hoping for freedom and fun in their retirement years, many opt to transition to memory support when they begin showing signs of memory impairment. Physicians can notify older adults and their families when to move from assisted living to memory support.

Before choosing the right type of community, consider the following factors:

  • Your loved one’s input
  • Your loved one’s unique needs
  • Online reviews or input from older adults in the community
  • A referral service to narrow options
  • Input from older adult care experts

When narrowing down your living options, consider moving to a community that can meet your loved one’s changing healthcare needs. While one community might seem like a great fit now, it may not be in the future. Many assisted living communities include memory support programs in one setting to make the transition easier. These communities allow your loved one to age in place and live a meaningful, fulfilling life.

Explore Our Services to Choose the Best for Your Loved One

Explore Our Services to Choose the Best for Your Loved One

If you have a family member with a new memory impairment diagnosis, you may want to consider a community that offers both assisted living and memory support. These programs provide enrichment and excitement in a safe, supported setting.

Capella of Grand Junction provides assisted living and memory support all in one place, ensuring your loved one can live a peaceful, maintenance-free lifestyle. Residents can appreciate assistance with everyday tasks, exciting social activities and exceptional cognitive care in one setting. Our signature programs recognize the values of each resident, providing social, intellectual, inspirational and physical support to meet all four cornerstones of healthy aging.

For more information or to schedule a tour, we invite you to contact us today.

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We live longer and healthier lives when we're connected to others in meaningful ways. That's why Cappella of Grand Junction assisted living and memory support residents have lots of opportunities to engage with others who share their interests and tastes. Cappella of Grand Junction Senior Living Community is managed by Christian Living Communities and provides exceptional assisted living senior care, memory support for retired persons and more to the Grand Junction Colorado area including Redlands, Clifton, Orchard Mesa, Canyon View Park, Lincoln Park, and the rest of the Grand Junction Colorado area. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 81506 (where Cappella of Grand Junction Senior Living Community is located), 81505, 81501, 81504, 815208, 81503 and 81526.

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