Memory Care: Assisted Living for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Memory care is specialized assisted living for Alzheimer's and dementia

Memory care is long-term care for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia

If you’re looking for assisted living for an older adult with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments, a memory care community is a good option. 

They’re places where seniors with dementia can get specialized care.

We explain how memory care is different from assisted living, how much it costs, and share two checklists you can use to evaluate a memory care community.


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How is memory care different from assisted living?

Memory care communities have environments that are secured against wandering and specially designed to be calming and easy to navigate. 

There’s 24 hour supervision and a higher staff to patient ratio for a greater level of care.

And in memory care communities, staff are specifically trained to work with older adults with cognitive impairments.

Memory care residents get help with important daily tasks, like taking medication, bathing, dressing, and eating

There are also structured activities, exercise, and therapy programs.


How much does memory care cost?

Because of the specialized care and larger staff, memory care usually costs more than other senior living options and, on average, about 20-30% more than assisted living

Since the average cost of assisted living in the U.S. is $4,300 per month, memory care would be about $5,375 per month.

This is a national average – costs can differ by thousands of dollars per month in different states.

That’s because memory care costs usually reflect an area’s cost of living. When trying to keep costs low, consider communities in less pricey neighborhoods.


What to look for in a memory care community

Finding a good memory care community for your older adult can feel overwhelming. 

At first glance, every community might seem the same and blur together. That’s why it’s helpful to have a way to compare them.

This handy evaluation checklist of questions helps you evaluate Alzheimer’s and dementia care communities based on the quality of care provided and practical aspects — for example, how easy is it for you and family to visit that location?

This additional dementia care checklist has questions that focus specifically on issues that are important in dementia care.

The questions give you a framework for differentiating one community from another so you can find the best fit for your older adult’s needs, budget, and personal preferences.


Next Step  Use these two checklists to compare memory care communities: 1) Quality of care and practicality and 2) Dementia care considerations


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply January 7, 2022

    Charles Stewart

    There is extreme disagreement about a locked facility for people with dementia. On the one hand it is argued as in the interest of the facility by reducing “risk”. On the other it causes stress and angst for the individual. Al Power, author of “Dementia Beyond Disease”, has been a strong advocate for not having locked environments.
    The checklist referenced in the article notes that California has a law against placing people in a locked facility without their or their conservator’s approval.
    Does anyone have further insights or experiences in other states? We are in Virginia, and this is a significant issue.

  • Reply January 25, 2021

    Phyllis Denison

    First, of course being able when needed to place your loved one in a well managed, clean and “nice” Assisted Living and/or Memory Care unit would be ideal, with the average cost being twice or 3 times the fixed income many of us have on Social Security, it is out of the question.
    Here in AZ, we have ALTCS – Arizona Long Term Care Solution – and the 4 or so places that take that as payment have only 1 or 2 rooms dedicated to ALTCS and 3 of them are not places I would put anyone, let alone my beloved husband! The 4th is quite nice, but does not have memory care!
    So for us, and thousands of others, we have to take care of our loved ones, often on our own with no family to help and we also are elderly with our own physical issues.
    In this country = health care is all about Profit and Money. So very sad that those of us who built this country and left alone without help if we haven’t managed over our lifetimes to save the up to a million dollars that it would take for us to have assistance.

    • Reply January 25, 2021


      It’s absolutely true that long-term care is costly and that different cities vary in terms of the care communities, services, and pricing options that are available. Unfortunately, the U.S. government currently doesn’t provide enough funding and support for older adults or for family caregivers.

  • Reply January 25, 2021

    James Baer

    Well written article, but reality is often quite different. My wife has lived in a locked Unit for 4 years; I live on the property as well, and spend several hours daily with her. The facility regularly passes all State (FL) examinations … BUT, there are many very scary events. I have documented many and would counsel that the LAST thing a family should do is place a loved one in Memory Care. Even in the best of conditions, it is an awful existence. One cannot describe it as LIFE in any reasonable form.

    • Reply January 25, 2021


      We’re so sorry to hear that scary things have happened in your wife’s care community and that everyday life isn’t pleasant 🙁 Unfortunately, the quality of care varies widely among different care communities. Some are truly wonderful and others aren’t what we’d want for someone we care about.

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