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What Is the Difference Between Dementia Care & Memory Care?

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In an aging society, the importance of specialized care for those with cognitive impairments cannot be overstated. 2 terms often used interchangeably but with distinct differences are “dementia care” and “memory care.”

While both concepts revolve around providing comprehensive assistance to individuals with memory-related challenges, the term “memory care” refers to a senior living community for seniors with a memory condition (which may include dementia), whereas “dementia care” is specific care for those with dementia. 

Understanding Dementia & Dementia Care

Dementia is an umbrella term encompassing a range of cognitive disorders, with Alzheimer’s being the most common. Other types include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. 

These conditions can most often be characterized by signs and symptoms like: 

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Impaired judgment
  • Personality and mood changes

Dementia is progressive, meaning it will most often get worse over time. As dementia progresses, it often affects independence and quality of life. The care needs of individuals with dementia can change drastically throughout the condition. Some with dementia may find they require ongoing support with activities of daily living, like eating, bathing, and dressing. 

Dementia Care: A Holistic Approach

Dementia care is a comprehensive approach to supporting individuals with dementia in their daily lives. It addresses the cognitive challenges and emotional, social, and physical needs. 

Dementia care aims to create a safe and comfortable environment that fosters a sense of familiarity and minimizes confusion. Dementia caregivers are trained to understand each resident’s unique needs and adapt their approach to provide personalized care.

Understanding Memory Care

Memory care is a subset of assisted living focusing on individuals with memory-related challenges. Memory care facilities are designed to provide a structured and secure environment for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. 

These facilities often have specialized staff who are well-versed in managing the behaviors and needs associated with memory loss. The physical layout of memory care units is carefully designed to minimize confusion and disorientation. 

Key Differences Between Dementia Care & Memory Care

Both dementia care and memory care are centered around caring for those living with a memory condition. The term “dementia care” may describe any care for an individual with dementia, including at-home care or care provided through an assisted living facility. 

Alternatively, “memory care” refers to a specific form of assisted living for seniors with memory conditions, including dementia. In simple terms, memory care can be a form of dementia care. While dementia care and memory care may overlap in some regards, they may also share some key differences, including:

  • Scope of services
  • Staff training
  • Personalization

Scope of Services

  • Dementia care is a more specialized form of care that caters specifically to individuals with dementia-related challenges. This type of care may be available at home or in a senior living community. 
  • Memory care addresses a broader spectrum of cognitive, emotional, and physical needs, encompassing various cognitive disorders. Memory care facilities may also provide other services and amenities for residents, such as housekeeping and meals. 

Staff Training

A son wearing a plaid shirt assisting his senior father in preparing oats for breakfast.
  • Dementia care does not necessarily need to be provided by a trained professional. Family, friends, and other loved ones may play a role in dementia care. 
  • Memory care staff undergo specialized training to address the unique needs of individuals with memory loss, including managing behaviors like wandering and agitation.


  • Dementia care emphasizes personalized care plans that consider individual preferences and needs. This may be especially true in a one-on-one in-home caregiver setting.
  • Memory care offers personalized services tailored to seniors with memory conditions while maintaining a community setting. 

Choosing the Right Care Option

Selecting the appropriate care option depends on the needs of your loved one. When considering dementia care or memory care, assessing the level of cognitive impairment, specific memory challenges, and any behavioral or safety concerns is essential. 

A memory care community may be a good option for those concerned about caregiver burnout, as this facility ensures that your loved one gets around-the-clock care from trained staff. Respite care may also be an option for families seeking short-term assisted living services. 

Families should visit potential care facilities, ask questions about staff training and engagement programs, and consider how well the environment aligns with their loved one’s needs.

Here to Support Your Memory Care Journey

While both dementia care and memory care are geared towards enhancing the lives of individuals with cognitive impairments, they differ in their scope and specialization. Choosing the right option for your family can be overwhelming, but our Fox Trail Memory Care team is here to support that journey. 

Contact our compassionate and knowledgeable team to discuss memory care options for individuals with dementia. 

Ryan Donahue

Written by Ryan Donahue, Regional Vice President

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