The Difference Between Assisted Living and Memory Care

Many adults over the age of 65 need or want support in their daily lives as they get older. Supportive living communities are one of the most common options for gaining that support along with a host of other services and amenities that enhance your lifestyle.

It can be a challenge to find the right community with the right support option. There are many different levels of support available; two of the most common options, assisted living and memory care, often provide similar services and amenities, but each also provides specialized support.

Assisted living is a long-term supportive living option that provides help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Memory care provides the same services as assisted living, along with additional, specialized support for those with memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a housing and support option for older adults or those with disabilities that ensure adults have the help they need to quickly and easily complete their normal daily living activities. Daily living activities include tasks like eating, staying mobile and personal hygiene. Most communities also offer supplementary help such as medication management when needed or requested. All services are personalized for the individual that needs them, so residents maintain their independence while receiving the help they need and want.

While in an assisted living community, you will not only have access to personal care services, you’ll also have private or shared housing and, in most cases, assistance with daily chores or other activities to further improve your life. For example, you may take advantage of linen services to reduce your workload or enjoy onsite health and recreational activities. Many communities also offer 24-hour security, along with other services that are designed to:

  • Provide the comfort of home without the burden of home maintenance
  • Reduce the need to relocate or seek outside assistance that may increase costs
  • Encourage community and family involvement
  • Accommodate the individual needs of their residents, especially as needs change over time


Because assisted living is offered as part of many other support programs, accommodations vary from community to community. However, the personal needs of each resident are important factors to consider when determining which community is the right choice for you. In most cases, assisted living will include either a private or shared room. Some will also include private or shared living areas and kitchenettes.

Amenities and Services

In addition to basic needs such as housing and support, assisted living communities should promote holistic well-being. Common services and amenities designed to improve well-being include:

  • Healthy meals that can be customized for specific dietary needs
  • Spiritual, cultural, and recreational activities
  • Health, wellness, and exercise programs
  • Housekeeping and home maintenance
  • Transportation services

Each of these services is designed to reduce the burden of caring for your home while providing opportunities to engage and connect with friends, family, and neighbors within the community.

What is Memory Care?

Memory care is very similar to assisted living in that it provides help with ADLs and typically includes both housing and a variety of amenities. In addition, memory care provides specialized support for adults living with memory impairments, usually a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Compared to assisted living, memory care communities provide a higher level of personal support from staff that are trained to work with memory impairments. When living in memory care, residents benefit from a structured environment designed to reduce stress, including days with set schedules and routines that help make residents feel safe and comfortable. There may also be additional safety features that help prevent residents from wandering, along with a variety of different programs that work on maintaining and improving cognitive skills.

One of the goals of memory care environments is to help residents maintain as much independence as possible and enjoy a sense of satisfaction and purpose each day. In addition to providing daily care and accommodations, memory care communities employ highly trained and skilled staff and offer specially designed activities and other advanced resources. On an average day, residents can be found engaging in memory games and brain fitness exercises, enjoying specialized meal programs, and spending time with friends and family — all of which can be extremely beneficial in fighting the daily effects of dementia.

What Are the Main Differences Between
Assisted Living and Memory Care?

There are a few key differences between assisted living and memory care, including:

Specialized Staff

While both assisted living and memory care provide access to nurses and nursing assistants, memory care communities employ staff members who have been specially trained to understand the needs and abilities of individuals with memory impairments. That includes maximizing each resident’s abilities and providing compassionate support.

Specialized Activities

What sets memory care apart from assisted living and other levels of care are the specialized activities that a community may offer to help slow the signs of dementia, including common forms such as Alzheimer’s and rarer types such as vascular dementia. These activities help keep memory care residents engaged in a regular daily routine while keeping them happy, calm, and stimulated. Because it is common for those living with memory loss to experience anxiety and other daily stress, this attention to detail is essential to providing them with the highest quality of care in a welcoming and safe environment.

Safety and Accessibility

Assisted living communities are designed for adults that are largely independent but need some help with various tasks. Memory care communities are designed to meet the needs of residents in varying stages of memory impairment. This often includes wider hallways to accommodate walking or movement aids, as well as additional security measures to better support residents who are prone to wandering.

Florida Senior Living Community

Find the support that fits your needs at The Sterling Aventura. All adults should live fulfilling lives where they pursue their interests. The community at The Sterling Aventura is designed to make that possible through compassionate memory care and empowering assisted living. If you’re interested in learning more about the different levels of care available at our senior living community in Aventura, Florida, our friendly and experienced staff members are always here to help answer your questions. Please give us a call at (305) 918-0000 or contact the team online today for more information or to schedule a tour.