Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Category: Memory Care | News

With the many forms of care available, deciding which would be a good fit can be difficult to navigate and understand. Haven Health wants to help you determine the level of care you or a loved one may need without impeding the independence and rights of the individual. 

A nurse assisting a patient at an assisted living facility.

What is memory care? 

Memory care typically consists of apartment-style living, common areas for social interaction, and communal meals. A key distinction is that memory care is designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Memory care units provide a safe and secure environment that meets the needs of individuals with cognitive deficiencies. These units are more secure and employ staff with training that specifically provides them with the knowledge to handle difficult behaviors and situations while promoting quality of life.

Activities in memory care are created to maintain and strengthen cognitive functioning with a therapeutic approach. Some activities you may find in memory care are music therapy to help trigger memories and tasks that support and enhance communication. Residents are encouraged to complete tasks they are still able to do while providing necessary support. The goal is to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as the individual is able. 

A concern that family members can have is safety and security, as individuals with dementia are prone to wander, leading to dangerous situations. Memory care facilities safeguard residents by implementing mechanisms specifically designed for this concern. Wander devices such as wearable trackers or locked and alarmed doors ensure that residents do not roam outside the safety of the facility. This may seem restricting, but most facilities also provide safe outside spaces where residents can spend time. 

For more information about memory care in Arizona, contact Haven Health today. 

What is assisted living? 

Assisted living is a less restrictive option for individuals who need help with daily living but do not have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Assisted living offers apartment-style living while providing support with medication, dressing, grooming, bathing, or walking. This form of care also offers companionship, independence, privacy, support, and security in a more relaxed home-like setting. 

Assisted living is beneficial for individuals who can care for themselves but may need extra support with activities of daily living. Like with memory care, activities are offered to provide entertainment and promote socialization among caregivers and residents. Staff ensures the residents have a variety of options such as music, game nights, films, bingo, art, exercise, and faith-based activities. 

An assisted living facility is designed to promote independence by encouraging individuals to provide as much of their own care as possible but staff are available to provide as much help as needed. 

Contact Haven Health to learn more about our assisted living in Arizona. 

What are the differences between memory care and assisted living? 

Assisted living and memory care share commonalities in communal meals, communal areas, promoting independence, and more. However, they also have very distinct differences. To make the best decision for your individual needs, it is important to understand both.

Staff training

Assisted living and memory care staff are trained to provide day-to-day care and provide for each resident’s basic needs. However, staff working in memory care receive specialized training. All staff members in memory care are required to complete a specific number of hours of dementia training that is refreshed and renewed periodically through in-services and further training. This specialized training is focused on understanding how the brain of someone with dementia works, tactics for redirection, and strategies to reduce agitation and escalation. 


In most cases, assisted living facilities offer safety features such as call lights in rooms and bathrooms as well as periodic check-ins throughout the day. For individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia, further safety mechanisms are necessary. Memory care facilities also typically feature:

  • Locked entrances and exits
  • Keypad entries
  • Doorbells that signal entrance and exit
  • WanderGuards
  • Bed alarms
  • Tab alarms
  • Open spaces free of clutter
  • Designs that minimize confusion
  • Calmer therapies and activities
  • Soothing spaces

Activities and therapies

Another area where you may find key differences is in activities and therapies offered to residents. Assisted living activities focus on socialization and maintaining independence. Special staff are employed to plan an array of activities that appeal to all demographics and interests such as:

  • Exercise
  • Book clubs
  • Bingo
  • Games
  • Parties
  • Karaoke
  • Outings
  • Live music

Due to the special needs of individuals in memory care, both group and individual activities and therapies are offered. The focus is primarily on structure, sensory stimulation, and engagement without causing agitation. 

Is memory care a part of assisted living?

Memory care offers some similar amenities as assisted living does, but the two are typically separate from each other. Due to the added support and security necessary to provide the best care to individuals with cognitive deficiencies, memory care is typically its own wing or building, depending on the skilled nursing facility providing the services. 

Better living with Haven Health

A male nurse with his arms crossed smiling for the camera.

We understand that choosing the right form of care can cause anxiety. Knowing the differences between the types of care available can help you determine your needs and make an informed decision to ensure the best care possible. At Haven Health, our residents are our number one priority. We stand by our values and work to provide the care and security necessary on an individualized basis while also promoting the best quality of life. 

Still need more information or want to discuss care? Contact Haven Health.


Howley, E. (2022). Everything You Need to Know About Dementia Care in Assisted Living Communities.

Russell, T. (2023). Assisted Living vs. Memory Care: What’s the Difference?

Woodruff, L. (2021). Choosing the Right Long-Term Care Facility