If a loved one is showing early signs of memory difficulties or dementia, it can become a stressful situation. This may start with them asking the same questions repeatedly, forgetting everyday words in conversation or taking longer to complete everyday tasks.

Choosing the best care for your loved one can be difficult. You may be aware of two types of care for seniors in this situation — memory care and dementia care. In this article, you will learn how these differ from each other, how much they are likely to cost and who they are best suited for. As an introduction, here is a brief description of the two types of care.

Memory Care

Dementia Care

Who Needs It

Seniors in early stages of dementia

Seniors in later stages of dementia

Program Type

A treatment program that helps seniors maintain some independence during care

A clinical program that is more aligned with nursing home care

Purpose of Care

Can potentially reduce the need for future dementia care

Focuses on maintaining the quality of life for seniors and mitigating symptoms of dementia

Memory Care

When caring for a senior with memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s, it may come to the point where you can no longer provide care at home. At this point, memory care is an ideal option. Many assisted living facilities provide memory care as an add-on, and there are also dedicated memory care centers.

Memory care communities typically cost about 25% more than assisted living facilities since they offer a higher level of support. Nationally, seniors pay an average of $5,625 per month for memory care according to calculations from data provided by the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

Memory care offers a structured, secure environment for seniors with memory issues. Specially trained staff provide set routines designed to reduce stress for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. They also know how to support seniors who often feel frustrated or anxious, or those who may become aggressive or have difficulties communicating. Community staff will prepare meals for the residents and organize activities for them to keep their minds active and support their cognitive abilities. They also make sure community members stay engaged with activities and daily care, such as bathing and eating.

As seniors with memory difficulties are often prone to wandering, security is maintained at a higher level. In some cases, elevators may require a code to use, doors have alarms and outdoor areas are often enclosed to keep residents secure. There will also be an increased ratio of staff to residents to keep an eye on seniors. 

Dementia Care

As dementia progresses, your loved one’s symptoms may worsen and a memory care facility may no longer be able to provide for all their needs. The progression of these symptoms can be slowed by memory care, but they may result in the eventual need for clinical dementia care.

Dementia care is a more involved form of memory care. If your loved one has reached the stage where they need 24-hour medical care that their memory care facility can no longer provide, dementia care is something you will need to consider. Dementia care facilities will have increased staff support in an environment more similar to a nursing home. Additional services may include extra help with daily activities, more one-on-one therapies and more advanced security features.

Dementia care shares memory care’s average national cost of $5,625 per month. However, there may be additional fees to account for additional services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can someone with dementia receive care at home?

In the early stages of dementia, it is certainly possible to care for someone with dementia in their own home. This may even be preferable as, with some support, they may be able to remain independent for longer and slow dementia’s progress. However, once they are unable to complete daily tasks or forget where they are and begin wandering, memory care is a safer option for the well-being of both themselves and their caregivers.

When should you consider memory care for your loved one?

If your loved one is no longer able to carry out tasks such as cooking for themselves, or they are incontinent and unable to dress without help, you might want to consider memory care. Equally, if the caregiver is becoming exhausted or you feel that your loved one is no longer safe in their home, it’s time to look for additional support options. 

How do you talk to a loved one about moving to a memory care facility?

Memory loss can make it challenging to make life-altering decisions. Although your loved one may be having some issues with their memory, you should avoid talking down to them or leaving them out of decisions. Ensure they receive advice from a trusted medical professional and talk to them about all the benefits they will receive in a memory care facility. Let them know that the facility will provide opportunities to socialize and engage with other people going through the same issues. Tell them about the supportive staff and that they will always have someone on hand to help when they need it.