If you or someone you know has a family member with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of memory issues, you may know firsthand the importance of memory care facilities. In fact, you may even be responsible for choosing the right facility for a loved one. And though memory care facilities and assisted living facilities are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.

Before you start your search for the right facility for your loved one, here’s what you need to know.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are typically the place for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living. Many seniors may elect to live in these communities after they retire – at an average age of 63 – and find they need help performing everyday activities. This is usually an ideal place for those seniors, as the vast majority of residents may need help with things such as getting dressed, moving around, and taking medication, but not the full services provided at a nursing home.

Even so, staff members are typically on-hand 24/7 to help with any tasks the residents may need to perform. But residents in these facilities also have private apartments and even limited kitchens within them. The key factor here is that assisted living facilities, while recommended in some cases, aren’t medically-necessary.

Memory Care Facilities

While memory care facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes are all different, they still have similarities. For example, a memory care facility will have the same 24/7 nursing staff that a nursing home or assisted living facility would. Some assisted living facilities even have entire units dedicated to memory care for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

But the one major difference between assisted living facilities and memory care facilities is that while assisted living is optional, memory care is a medically-necessary residence. Instead of simply helping with daily tasks, memory care facilities may offer structured daily routines and additional security measures to keep residents from wandering off.

When you’re considering the needs of your elderly loved ones, it’s important that you keep these facilities in mind. Now that you’re more aware of the differences, you should feel more confident in your ability to help your loved one.