Memory care is considered a specialized type of assisted living designed for older adults with Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. Residents receiving memory care services typically live in dedicated neighborhoods separate from the other assisted living residents. Many memory care providers also offer amenities, therapies and activity programs targeted to the needs of older adults with dementia. 

Memory Care Neighborhoods

Seniors under memory care usually live in special memory care neighborhoods with locked entries, enclosed outdoor courtyards and 24/7 monitoring. These security measures ensure the safety of seniors with dementia, as they’re prone to wandering and getting lost.

Many memory care neighborhoods also feature layouts and elements specially designed for the needs of those with cognitive impairment. These may include spacious common areas that promote interaction and social connection, color-coded hallways that support seniors in navigating their surroundings and memory boxes outside each resident’s apartment that help them find their home. Some memory care neighborhoods may also feature bright lighting and soothing music to regulate circadian rhythms, reduce agitation and alleviate depression.

Memory Care Services and Amenities

Memory care communities offer many of the same services available in assisted living facilities, which typically include help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, bathing and eating. Other commonly available services are housekeeping, laundry, three daily meals, medication management and transportation to appointments. Seniors can participate in a wide range of physical and recreational activities, such as exercise classes, happy hours, movie nights and community outings.

Many memory care facilities also provide therapeutic services catering to seniors with dementia. Music therapy promotes relaxation and triggers memories via personalized playlists of nostalgic music, art therapy encourages seniors to express themselves through nonverbal means and reminiscence therapy uses storytelling and personal mementos to help residents recall the people and events of their lives.

Specialized amenities for cognitive health may be available. Multisensory rooms can improve concentration and support cognitive development by stimulating the users’ senses using a combination of light, sounds, textures and vibrations. Life stations recreate familiar situations from the residents’ pasts, such as an office or garden, to keep seniors engaged, help them exercise cognitive abilities and spark happy memories.

Memory Care Staff

In comparison to regular assisted living, memory care usually offers a higher staff-to-resident ratio due to the more intensive needs of their residents. The caregivers at memory care facilities are typically on duty 24/7 to provide personalized care, conduct regular health checks and ensure the safety of every resident. Some memory care providers may also have medical and therapeutic professionals on staff, such as registered nurses, physicians, podiatrists and physical, occupational and speech therapists.

The workers at memory care communities may have undergone extra training and received certifications to help them better communicate with seniors with memory loss and more effectively handle common dementia behaviors, including agitation, delusions and wandering. Popular memory care training and certification programs include essentiALZ from the Alzheimer’s Association, CARES Dementia Basics Online Training Program from HealthCare Interactive and Certified Dementia Practitioner from the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.