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What Is Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

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A female nurse smiling and helping an older adult man with a board game

There comes a point in many older adult’s lives when they transition into some form of senior living care. A couple of common options are memory care and assisted living.

These may be similar on the surface, but they have a few specific differences, like the level of care residents receive, the training of the staff, and even the physical design of the community. An older adult who simply needs some assistance in their daily life may benefit from an assisted living lifestyle, where an older adult with dementia or one of its related conditions is more likely to thrive in a memory care community.

It’s not always as simple as that because we’re all unique people, and our needs can change over time. So, an older adult may start their senior living journey with assisted living but move into a memory care setting as their needs change. This is why it’s important to consider potential future needs when deciding on a community to call home.

Differences Between Assisted Living & Memory Care

Memory care and assisted living lifestyles share many common experiences, like assistance with daily activities of living or an emphasis on enabling an older adult to maintain as much independence as possible. 

A significant place that these 2 lifestyle choices differ is in the type of care, training of the caregivers, and often the physical designs of the community. For example, a memory care community will typically provide a more specialized form of care for those with cognitive or memory issues. These communities are also usually designed to keep an older adult safe and help prevent confusion or getting lost.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community is designed for older adults who want to continue enjoying an active lifestyle but may need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, or medication management. Think of it as a helping hand when you need it, giving you the freedom to focus on what you love doing most.

It’s about creating a fulfilling, enriched life while having the reassurance of professional care available around the clock.

What Is Memory Care?

A memory care community shares many similarities with an assisted living lifestyle, and many senior living communities offer memory care lifestyle options within the large community. What sets a memory care community apart is the specialized type of care specifically designed for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other forms of memory loss.

Memory care communities are built with unique design elements to create a sense of familiarity and comfort. Wayfinding cues, soothing colors, and secure outdoor spaces are all part of the environment, helping residents feel at home.

Benefits of Assisted Living

The following isn’t a comprehensive list of assisted living benefits because each person will find different things that benefit them more or less. 

Socialization Opportunities

One significant benefit of assisted living is the opportunity for older adults to socialize with their peers. Assisted living communities often offer their residents various experiences they can participate in, including game nights, exercise classes, and community events. This social interaction provides a sense of connection and belonging, which is vital for older adults and can help improve their overall quality of life.

Peace of Mind

Assisted living provides peace of mind for older adults and their loved ones. Residents can rest assured that they will receive the care they need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. And for loved ones, knowing that their family member is living in a safe and supportive environment with professional care gives them peace of mind.


Contrary to popular belief, assisted living can be cost-effective compared to other forms of care. While the costs may vary depending on the location and service level, assisted living can be a more affordable option compared to in-home care or nursing homes. Plus, many insurance plans may cover part or all of the cost of assisted living.

Benefits of Memory Care

Memory care’s main benefits are the personalized care an older adult receives and increased safety measures.

Personalized Care

A significant advantage of memory care is that it’s tailored to the individual needs of each resident. Memory care communities can provide various personalized care services to help those with dementia.

Plus, they may offer specialized programs and therapies like cognitive stimulation and memory-building activities to help older adults with dementia slow memory loss and improve cognitive function, as some studies suggest is possible.

Safety & Security

Older adults with dementia can be susceptible to wandering, confusion, and other safety risks. Memory care communities are designed to protect residents from these risks by providing a secure environment and 24-hour supervision. The grounds are secured around the clock, including secure outdoor walking spaces and wards that minimize confusion, reducing the risk of losing their bearings in the community.

Social Engagement

Isolation is a common problem for people with dementia. Memory care emphasizes social engagement as an essential aspect of dementia treatment. Residents typically have the opportunity to interact with others who are undergoing similar experiences, build friendships, and forge connections that can help counteract feelings of loneliness and decrease depression and anxiety.

A group of older adults sitting at a table and playing cards while drinking tea. In the background, a male nurse helps out

Learn How We Can Support Your Loved One

Each community will have the things that make it unique by offering varied services and experiences. For example, some may offer several levels of care to support your loved one as their needs change.Contact our compassionate team at The Village at Bellevue today if you’re considering senior living options in Nashville with your loved one. We’re happy to give you a community tour.

Written by Angela Clark

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