Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Learn the key differences between two popular senior care options

What Are the Key Differences Between Assisted Living & Memory Care Communities?

You’ve likely come across various senior living options when searching for a home for your loved one. Independent living, active adult, assisted living, and memory care are four of the most common types of senior communities you’ll see in your research.

When it comes to caring for seniors, assisted living and memory care are both designed for older adults who need help with daily tasks and medical care services. It’s essential to understand the difference between the two as they aren’t interchangeable. Instead, it’s a necessary choice you’ll have to make for a family member.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: Specialization

Both a memory care and assisted living community will offer help with daily living tasks, such as bathing, and likely hold community events to engage residents physically, socially, and mentally. However, the two differ in the specialization of memory care communities. As the name implies, memory care facilities are geared toward seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments. Memory care may offer different services or programs that are tailored to seniors with dementia. This difference is vital, as someone living with dementia may not be able to receive the level of care they need in an assisted living community, despite both offering daily living help for seniors.


While both communities will include highly trained staff members there to help seniors through day-to-day tasks, staff at memory care communities are specifically trained to treat patients with any of the forms of dementia and provide memory loss assistance. Staff are trained to monitor a senior’s dementia progress carefully, continually determining what health care is needed.

Many caregivers in memory care settings also have additional training on how to manage challenging dementia behaviors and provide patient-centered care. With ongoing training, they learn best practices for interacting with people with dementia in a positive, patient, and enriching way. They develop a deep understanding of how to ensure the people in their care feel calm and supported and overcome barriers to health, like trouble with eating, sensory issues, and more.


As stated above, both communities typically offer similar activities. However, events at memory care will be tailored to the needs of the residents. Events are meant to engage residents physically, socially, and mentally while working within their various impairments. Common activities include:

  • Music Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Carnival Games

Some events may be unique to assisted living residents, such as an outing to a local park. Generally speaking, though, both communities will have the same activity but different versions. Events at memory care are tailored for residents’ cognitive and sensory impairments to help keep them safe while engaging and entertaining them.

Diet & Nutrition

Both communities provide chef-prepared meals daily, but the meals themselves can differ. A memory care community offers specialized diets that fit their cognitive impairments, and they are served their meals in a less distracting environment. This may also include utensils that are uniquely tailored to their needs. Meanwhile, assisted living residents receive three meals a day and typically get to eat those meals in a community room, promoting social interaction.


There are vital design differences between the buildings and homes of memory care and assisted living residences. Designed specifically for the cognitive impairments that seniors with dementia have, a memory care community will have more safety and security features.

When someone is living with dementia, they can pose a risk to themselves. An assisted living community may not have the necessary security features to help protect memory care residents from wandering or endangering themselves.

Our Vision

At Vitality Living, you can find senior living apartments that suit your preferences and budget. Our vision is to create vibrant communities where residents thrive, families engage, and team members are proud to work.

Let Your Loved One Live With Vitality

With communities across the country, Vitality is one of America’s premier senior living providers. We have neighborhoods for active adults, independent living, assisted living, and memory care residents. Each community prioritizes a personalized relationship with our seniors to help determine how much care is needed. Whatever your family member’s wants and needs are, we can ensure they spend their life living with Vitality.

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