What is Memory Care?

“Memory care” is a broad term that describes the type of long-term care that helps those with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Memory care may be provided at your home or you may have to travel to a clinic for treatment. Memory care is also offered as an add-on service at some assisted living facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities and nursing homes.

Memory care communities are residential communities designed specifically for the long-term treatment of residents who need memory care. Here we will focus on this type of residential memory care community.

What Does a Memory Care Community Look Like?

Memory care communities may look similar to assisted living communities. Residents live in private or semi-private units, which can range from small bedrooms to individual apartments.

The atmosphere at these communities tends to be upscale, with a large array of amenities offered such as hair salons, fitness centers and restaurant-like dining areas.

Memory care communities may be separate communities or part of a larger senior community that provides other levels of care such as independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing care.

Even though they are typically located in or near residential or urban areas, residents do not have as much freedom to come and go in a memory care community as they do in some other senior communities. Security is tighter and residents are more closely monitored for their own safety so that they do not wander off and get lost.

What’s it Like to Live at a Memory Care Community?

You’ll be more closely monitored at a memory care community than with assisted living. There is not only a higher staff-to-patient ratio, but security is also tighter and you may be limited to staying in certain areas that are secure.

The staff members that cares for you are specially trained to keep you calm and safe. They’ll use special techniques that they’ve learned to not only keep you on task, but to stimulate your mind.

You’ll also be encouraged to take part in all kinds of activities that are designed to keep your mind and body active. These range from arts and crafts and games to special trips and outings.

You and your family members will have peace of mind in knowing that you are safe, secure, and that emergency help is close by if you should ever need it.

Is a Memory Care Community Right for Me?

Your physician and family members will most likely play a role in deciding whether or not you need memory care, as they may notice that you need care before you do. That’s understandable since the symptoms can be easy to miss, especially if your memory is impaired.

Consider these statements below to determine if they describe you:

Memory Loss

  • I forget to eat meals or forget to eat them on time.
  • I get upset, angry or frustrated easily.
  • I have trouble taking care of my bills.
  • I like to hoard things and buy a lot of things that I do not really need.
  • I have damaged my home because I’ve forgotten to turn off faucets or the stove.

Daily Living

  • I need help getting in and out of the bathtub or taking a bath or shower.
  • I need help getting dressed.
  • I need assistance with personal grooming.
  • I get my medicines mixed up or can’t remember when to take them.
  • I can no longer cook or need help preparing meals.
  • I can no longer drive or can only drive very short distances.
  • I no longer feel safe in my home.
  • I feel isolated in my home.
  • I do not have family or friends nearby if I need help.

If most or all of the above Memory Loss and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you do not need regular nursing or medical care, then a memory care community may be a good option for you.

 If most or all of the above Memory Loss and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you ­also need regular nursing or medical care, then consider this option:

If all or most of the Daily Living statements apply to you, but not the Memory Loss statements, and your physician and family members do not think you need memory care, then consider these options:

What to Expect from Assisted Living?

What to Expect from a Memory Care Community?


You will be closely monitored in a memory care community and your freedom may be limited to certain areas, or to access certain amenities outside of the secure area, you may be supervised by a staff member.

Most communities have an upscale atmosphere and offer a full range of amenities like beauty salons, libraries, arts studios and recreation areas. They typically have large dining and common areas where residents can gather and socialize with each other, and may also have secure outdoor areas like courtyards and gardens.

In addition to the activities you’ll participate in to help with your memory loss, there will be lots of scheduled activities that give you opportunities to have fun with others. These include:

  • Games
  • Arts and crafts
  • Movie nights
  • Live entertainment


Memory care communities offer supervised care around the clock by staff specially trained to treat those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your treatments for Alzheimer’s or dementia are provided, as are your meals and help with daily tasks like bathing, getting dressed and  taking medications.

Other services that are typically covered include:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Fitness programs
  • Social programs and activities
  • Transportation


Costs of memory care communities are typically higher than senior living options like independent living and assisted living, because of the higher staff-to-patient ratio; however, costs will vary depending on the level of care needed. Costs will also vary based on:

  • Community location and amenities
  • Type and size of residence
  • Other factors

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