Alzheimer’s and other dementias often make it difficult for an individual to function and communicate. As the disease progresses, it causes changes in behavior, disorientation, confusion and safety issues. Family caregivers may start to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to care for their loved one on their own. 

During this time, it may be necessary to seek an alternative care option. However, determining which one is best for you can be a challenging task. Home health care and memory care facilities are two choices that you should consider. This guide discusses home health care vs. memory care and provides the similarities and differences between the two. It also offers a cost comparison and information on how to choose the best option for older adults.

Home Health Care

Memory Care



Residential, clinical community

Care Provided

Help with ADLs, medication administration, physician, occupational and speech therapy, wound care, IV care

Memory therapy programs, help with ADL

Average Monthly Cost



Who Should Consider It

Those who prefer to age in place, senior homeowners

Those who require constant supervision

Home Health Care

Home health care allows seniors to remain in their own homes while receiving varying levels of assistance. It’s provided by licensed professionals and includes skilled nursing care and assistance with personal care needs like bathing, personal hygiene, meal prep and medication management. Home health care also includes light medical assistance like IV care, health monitoring and therapy. Dementia care may also be provided through home health care. Caregivers offer companionship and supervision, and they may offer memory therapies.

The average national cost of home health care is around $5,149 per month, according to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. The exact cost of care is determined by how many hours a day a senior requires assistance. The national hourly average is $27, so it’s possible to determine a more accurate cost comparison by multiplying the number of hours of care an individual needs per week by the hourly cost. Costs can vary depending on what state an individual lives in and the location within the state. In California, the monthly cost is $6,101 per month, while the cost in Georgia is $4,385.

Home health care is ideal for seniors who want to stay in their own homes. It’s also an excellent supplement for family members who want their loved ones to receive care while they work or when they need a break to take care of their own personal needs. There are multiple ways to locate home health care for those with dementia. Start by contacting the individual’s primary care physician. Most doctor’s offices will offer recommendations for home health agencies that have experience caring for those with Alzheimer’s. Check with the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, as they can also provide information on local caregivers. Family, friends and neighbors who’ve used these types of services are also excellent resources.

Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized residential option for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It often includes secure rooms and outdoor spaces to prevent wandering. Programs typically focus on helping patients retain their memory for as long as possible by relying on their current abilities. These communities usually have the same look and atmosphere as an assisted living community or nursing home. They have spacious common rooms for games and hobbies and have locked gates, motion-activated lights and cameras and 24-hour supervision.

Staff members who provide care in memory care facilities are specially trained to work with those with dementia and other cognitive impairments. Different states have different requirements for certifications and licensing. Because memory care is most often provided in assisted living communities, the cost of memory care is an estimated 20 to 30% higher than the cost of assisted living. Throughout the United States, memory care costs an estimated $5,625 per month. This includes room and board and care. Memory care facilities are generally less costly than home health care, which may be something to consider for those on a budget.

The services provided in a memory care facility are often the same as those in an assisted living community. They may include:

  • Assistance with daily care needs
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Maximized security
  • Wearable tracking devices
  • Family support groups
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Daily recreational activities

Frequently Asked Questions

How to tell when it’s time for memory care?

While the time for memory care is different for each individual, the most common sign is a change in behavior. If a memory care patient becomes disoriented frequently or is prone to wander, increased supervision or a community may be necessary. Other signs memory care may be necessary include increased agitation, depression or moodiness, lack of balance or difficulty walking.

Will Medicare pay for memory care?

Medicare typically doesn’t cover the entire cost of memory care. It will cover medically necessary procedures and treatments, but won’t cover the cost of personal care activities and the cost of accommodations.

What makes memory care different from home health care?

The biggest difference between the two types of care is that home health allows seniors to remain with their loved ones or in their own homes for as long as possible. Residential care is typically more structured and staff members are available 24/7.