What is Memory Care?

Posted by Kia Crawford on January 16th, 2015 in Memory Care, Mind | No Comments

Until an older relative is in need of assistance, many people aren’t aware of the different levels and kinds of care communities that exist for seniors. But the number of Alzheimer’s patients in the United States is on the rise, and many families find themselves facing a need to educate themselves quickly on the care options available. For a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, that often means memory care.

Memory care involves a care environment designed entirely around the needs of seniors with dementia. It is a form of assisted living, where seniors have their own room, apartment or suite in a community but also have 24/7 attention from staff so that their care needs are met. The difference between memory care and assisted living more broadly is that the staff at a memory care community are specially trained for working with dementia patients and there is a higher level of care, assistance and attention than for the more independent assisted living communities.


A memory care community can be a facility unto itself or it can be a “neighborhood” within a larger residence. Memory care residents are free to move about the grounds, which are secure and optimized for their safety. They will normally have access to an outdoor area supervised by staff, as well as healthy meals and regular programs with social events and entertainment.

But memory care should also offer specialized activities and care. For example, staff should know how to use music to help connect residents with their memories and with each other. Similarly, older movies and objects from residents’ own generation can be used as touchstones to build relationships and tap into memories. Staff should know how to talk to seniors coping with dementia in a way that reassures them and doesn’t cause confusion. And they are equipped to defray agitation and restlessness such as “sundowning” in a safe way.

Some memory care facilities will offer more than others. For example, the best memory care offers on-staff specialists to provide speech therapy and physical therapy. Speech therapy can help seniors struggling with the side effects of dementia while physical therapy can contribute to comfort and arthritis management without turning exclusively to painkillers.

While there are many different types of memory care communities, all should focus on creating an environment that delivers the best day to day quality of life for dementia patients. If you want to learn more about how to choose the memory care community that’s right for you, download our free memory care guide below.