As of 2022, over six million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia-related condition. Home care and residential memory care are two options for treatment to help those living with cognitive impairments. Home care allows individuals to remain at home or with a loved one while receiving private assistance, while memory care is usually provided in an assisted living community or in a residential care home that specializes in seniors with cognitive impairment.
Because the two types of care are completely different, it can be difficult to decide which type is ideal. Things like budget, amenities, location and availability can all play an important role in making the decision between types of care. This guide covers memory care vs. home care and the criteria to consider before making the final decision.

Memory Care

Home Care



At home

Care Provided

Full-time supervision, specially designed memory care programs and therapy, emergency call systems, help with ADLs, increased security, structured routines, support for families

Help with ADLs, companionship, medication reminders, mental stimulation, social interaction, individualized care

Average Monthly Cost



Who Should Consider It

Those who require continuous care

Those who prefer to age in place and individuals who want one-on-one interaction

Memory Care

Memory care facilities are residential care communities that provide long-term care for those with cognitive impairments. Staff members who provide care in memory care communities are extensively trained to assist dementia patients. Most facilities require nurses and professionals to be licensed and registered before they work one-on-one with dementia patients, and they may also provide ongoing dementia training that helps caregivers keep up with innovations in care. Memory care facilities have strict policies and security to prevent patients from wandering, and they also understand the importance of working with families and loved ones.

Memory care communities provide a wide range of activities that help focus on an individual’s existing abilities to increase confidence. Most facilities have their own branded programs that can range from holistic treatment methods to faith-based care. Daily activities may include social activities with other residents, including games, music, art and pet therapy. Activities that focus on gross motor movements, including dancing, cooking, gardening, playing the piano and exercise, are also provided. Other common memory care facility amenities include:

  • Secured outdoor and indoor spaces
  • Simple floor plans
  • Easily identifiable rooms
  • Electronic doors for staff members
  • In-room intercom systems

The cost of memory care tends to be 25% higher than the cost of assisted living. This cost can vary throughout the nation depending on the city and region. In the United States, the average cost for room and board and care in a memory care facility is $5,625 per month according to calculations based on data from the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Memory care facilities are the best option for individuals who can no longer live safely at home. In some cases, family members can provide assistance in the early stages of dementia, but as the disease progresses it may be necessary to obtain professional help. In some residential care communities, individuals can transition from assisted living as their needs change.

Home Care

Home care allows seniors to remain in their own homes or in the home of their loved ones while receiving daily care. Care can address memory impairment, but it’s also available for lower-level help with daily life, such as bathing and mobility. In some cases, loved ones may have a home care professional assist while they work a traditional job or during specific hours throughout the day. Home care may require home modifications, including safety bars in the bathrooms and alarmed doors and windows if the senior has memory impairment. Outdoor areas may require fencing and gate locks to prevent wandering and tracking devices may be necessary in the event of a separation.

Home care for dementia and Alzheimer’s is less structured than residential care. It tends to focus more on assistance with activities of daily living, including help with dressing and bathing, toileting, moving from the bed to a chair or help standing. Home care staff also help with meals and transportation and can provide medication reminders. They also help seniors maintain their own personal routines and may provide engaging activities, including painting, crafts and games.

Typical home care throughout the United States costs an average of $4,957 per month. For seniors who require additional light medical support, like therapy and medication administration, the cost is slightly higher for home health care at $5,148 per month. The actual cost of care depends on the number of hours care is provided and the location of the residence. Home care for dementia patients may be ideal for those who have family members who can provide part of the care. Remaining in their homes or with loved ones has proven to have multiple benefits, including lowered levels of stress and confusion and fewer outbursts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover the cost of memory care?

Medicare and Medicaid pay for part of the cost of care in memory care depending on where you live in the United States. Typically, it will cover the cost of medical care if it’s deemed necessary by an individual’s physician. Medicare will pay for home safety evaluations, hospital stays, prescriptions and cognitive assessments. Medicaid pays for the types of care typically provided by a nursing home. Some private health insurance plans will cover part or all the cost of memory care depending on the level of coverage.

Do memory care facilities require a physician’s referral?

Most facilities require a referral from a health care provider or the individual’s primary care physician. After the referral, many facilities perform evaluations to determine an individual’s care needs.

What types of professionals provide memory care?

In a memory care facility, a wide range of professionals may provide care to those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These individuals may be a medical doctor who performs routine health checks and a nurse case manager who works closely with the patient’s physician. Other care professionals may include a neurologist, a psychiatrist and clinical staff members.