Memory care refers to programs and residential facilities that can assist loved ones living with dementia.

If a loved one is experiencing memory issues and you’re concerned for their well-being, it may be time to consider a memory care program. There are a number of different facilities that offer memory care services, and the type of services provided differ.

Memory issues are common in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The chronic, progressive nature of these conditions can lead to the need for assistance with daily living.

The severity of symptoms is one way to determine which facility might be most suitable for your loved one. Having a conversation with your loved one can be a good start to determine if they’re interested in additional care and professional support for their daily needs.

Memory care refers to specialized support and living options for people living with dementia or other causes of memory issues. Dementia refers to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss, which can interfere with activities of daily living.

For this reason, there are specific types of residential facilities that focus on providing care for those with memory issues. Assisted living facilities are one common type that may offer memory care, depending on the facility.

Memory care facilities have specially trained staff who can assist with the day-to-day difficulties of memory issues. The extent of care that a loved one may need depends on the degree of their memory issues.

In some cases, an assisted living facility makes the most sense, whereas the best idea for someone who needs more intensive support may be a nursing home. Another common choice is a continuing care retirement community, which integrates independent living with assisted living options.

Memory care can also include at-home visits or can be offered at adult day care centers. At-home visits may offer the most comfort since the services are provided at home. Adult day care centers offer memory care services for the day but don’t offer housing.

What services are provided in a memory care facility?

The specific services provided will vary according to each facility and to your loved one’s particular needs. Some services that may be offered in any memory care facility can include:

  • help with activities of daily living like dressing and bathing
  • meals and recreational programs
  • nursing services to help with medications or other needs
  • housekeeping services
  • transportation services
  • coordination with family in regard to the individual’s care preferences
  • staff that are trained in dementia and memory disorders
  • safe and secure outdoor environments
  • family support groups
  • health screenings
  • fitness programs

Memory care services offer a safe and secure environment that supports the specific needs of your loved one. It assures that your loved one will be supervised to some degree, depending on the facility.

The benefits will vary across facilities, but some benefits may include:

  • community-oriented setting to foster social relationships
  • secure environments to prevent wandering
  • access to staff trained in memory care
  • activities that aim to help improve cognitive function
  • help in establishing routines
  • reduced chance of hospitalization

Assisted living refers to a type of care that’s offered in a facility. Assisted living facilities typically have residents who live in a secure and supervised community and receive help with certain activities of daily living. Residents can live in apartments or rooms and may also have access to shared spaces.

Memory care broadly refers to a type of specialized service for those living with memory issues. Assisted living facilities can offer memory care services, but memory care isn’t exclusively offered at assisted living facilities.

Memory care vs. dementia care

Dementia care is more involved and more specific than memory care. Dementia is a condition that includes more symptoms than memory issues alone. For example, it may also include difficulties with communication and planning, which are addressed in facilities that offer dementia care.

According to a 2021 survey, the average monthly costs for memory care were reported as follows:

  • Adult day care: $1,690
  • At-home care: $4,947–$5,148
  • Assisted living: $4,500
  • Nursing home: $7,908–$9,034

The decision to move a loved one into a memory care facility may be difficult for many reasons. A key question that can help you decide is whether or not you believe they’re safe without daily supervision and assistance.

Also, consider the quality of life that they’re currently experiencing. If their social life is restricted or they’re not receiving much mental stimulation throughout the day, you might consider a community-oriented setting with opportunities for socializing and recreational activities.

If you’re a caregiver, consider both the effect that caring for them is having on you and whether or not you’re able to continue to provide the care they need. If you find that taking care of your loved one is becoming overwhelming, it may be a good time to consider some type of memory care for them.

Memory care may be a good option for your loved one, but it depends on their specific needs. There are different types of facilities that offer memory care programs and different levels of care.

More intensive facilities are typically more expensive but ensure more overall supervision and attention. Speaking with your family, your loved one, and perhaps a healthcare professional can be one way to determine the most appropriate course of action for someone experiencing memory issues.