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Comparing Types of Memory Care Facilities


If your aging loved one needs specialized care because of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you might be searching for the right memory care facility. There are several types of memory care center options. Some assisted living developments have onsite memory care units. A dedicated memory care center only accepts residents with a need for specialized care. The highest level of memory care is an Alzheimer’s care unit, usually with 24-hour supervised care.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by these options. If you are trying to find the best placement for your loved one, you might benefit from some help comparing types of memory care facilities.

Specialized Memory Care

A facility that focuses on memory care might use one or more of these terms:

  • Memory Care Unit
  • Alzheimer’s Care Community
  • Specialized Care Units (SPU)
  • Dementia Care Community

There is no federal regulation of assisted living facilities. No category of assisted living is growing faster than memory care. Because assisted living and memory care are lucrative businesses, some unscrupulous companies might claim to provide better care than they actually do. Always check with your doctor and local social service agencies about memory care centers.

Visit several facilities, so you can compare the physical layouts, cleanliness, activities and interaction of the staff members with the residents. A memory care facility should have a mindful design that keeps the seniors safe but does not make them feel as if they are in a prison. High-quality design features can help to prevent injuries from falls, reduce anxiety, increase social interaction and allow residents the opportunity to walk around safely.

An assisted living center might claim to provide memory care, but genuine memory care includes round-the-clock supervision by well-trained professionals in a more restrictive environment than a typical assisted living facility. For example, people with dementia tend to wander off and leave the center, often in the middle of the night. People have met with tragic ends to their lives from exposure to the elements, drowning and foul play in these situations.

The Cost of Alzheimer’s Care

There are several different levels of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, depending on the stage and severity of the illness. A person can receive Alzheimer’s care at a variety of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Here is a comparison of the cost of the different types of CCRCs that offer memory care:

  • Home care: $16 to $28 an hour
  • Independent living center: $1, 500 to $6, 000 a month
  • Assisted living facility: an average of $4, 000 a month nationally, but in Massachusetts the average assisted living facility costs $6, 500 and $8, 000 per month for memory care
  • Residential care: $3, 500 to $4, 500 a month
  • Skilled nursing care: an average of $7, 441 a month for a semi-private room and $8, 365 a month for a private room, nationally. In the Greater Norwood area, the average cost of skilled nursing care is $15, 000 per month.
  • Hospice care: $41 an hour or $193 a day

These average prices can be quite different from the cost where you live. As stated above, in the Greater Norwood area, living in the memory care unit of an assisted living facility will cost approximately $8, 000 per month, and skilled nursing care averages $15, 000 per month. Always get a written list of all the fees the facilities charge. Make sure you know what the basic monthly cost includes and what will generate an extra expense. Also consult an elder law attorney who may be able to assist you and your family with strategies on how to pay for care.


A Place for Mom. “What is Alzheimer’s Memory Care?” (accessed November 21, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/alzheimers-care

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