Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer's, is a serious, growing problem. In fact, 1 out of every 10 adults over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s dementia. As Durham’s senior population continues to grow (38.24% growth between 2014 and 2019), so does the concern about aging and the risk of cognitive impairment.
In Durham, the number of deaths for those 65 and older caused or partly caused by Alzheimer’s disease increased by 43.48% between 2014 and 2019. To put that in perspective, the number of deaths from all causes for that same age group only increased by 20.81%, showing that Alzheimer’s is a growing concern in the region. Overall, the percentage of seniors’ deaths related to Alzheimer’s is slightly lower than the rest of the nation (6.36% in Durham vs. 6.46% in the U.S.).
To help families and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of cognitive impairment find the support and care their loved ones need, we applied our unique methodology and spent dozens of hours researching senior living communities in Durham. In addition to an overview of the communities’ best features, this guide highlights the best memory care facilities in the city, and gives information about pricing, types of care provided, residents’ reviews, and more.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 83% of all caregivers are unpaid family members, relatives, or other friends, and nearly half of all care is for older adults with some form of dementia. Caregiving, especially when it involves Alzheimer’s or dementia, is extremely exhausting and time-consuming, leading many caregivers to feel isolated and overwhelmed.
As a loved one continues to progress through the stages of dementia and his or her cognitive abilities continue to decline, behavioral problems, safety, and general care often become more than one caregiver can handle. This is when it’s important to find extra help, and residential facilities that have specialized memory care programs are often the best solution.
In addition to providing a safe environment, memory care programs seek to delay or halt cognitive decline while providing the opportunity for a social, independent lifestyle.
To choose the best memory care facilities in Durham, our team of researchers started by using our unique methodology to develop a list of contenders. We further refined the list in the next phase of our process by completing hands-on research for each one of the companies that we developed. Finally, we compiled online reviews from residents and families and wrote summaries of each facility that made it through our selection process.
Overall, our team:
Brighton Gardens of Raleigh is situated on a sprawling campus with lots of amenities and activities for residents. A pet-friendly community, Brighton Gardens offers outings to nearby shopping centers, a signature dining program and an array of clubs. Memory care is offered through the Reminiscence Program, which uses validation therapy to underscore clear communication with residents. It includes emotion matching, eye contact and open-ended questions to allow residents to convey their needs to staff. Scheduled daily activities, including brain games, help to keep residents engaged. The community is also designed for clear navigation and residents adhere to consistent schedules to promote a sense of peace.
Residents and their loved ones laud this community for its high level of care and wide array of activities provided to residents. One writes, "We selected Brighton Gardens. My father-in-law moved there...and it seemed very nice. The people there were very friendly, he seemed to enjoy whatever they offered, and he was happy."
Tucked away in a peaceful residential neighborhood, Brookdale Burlington is a memory care-focused community with a close-knit feel. The staff is specially trained to meet the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and they’re available 24 hours a day. Using a person-centered approach, caregivers get to know every resident closely to design care around their needs, from issuing visual reminders to helping with daily living activities, such as bathing, grooming and personal hygiene. Activities nurture seniors’ current skills while engaging both body and mind. The schedule features brain games, art and music classes, dancing and sing-a-longs. With a 24-hour security system and doorbells to monitor in/out movements, residents can feel well-protected, and the easy-to-navigate environment makes meals and activities easy to find. Outside, the pet-friendly campus features an enclosed courtyard and garden.
Visiting family members note the staff and activities. "They have been very caring, very thorough and they’ve done a very good job in taking care of her," says one relative. "They had a lot of different activities ... They have a lot of people who come in and perform or sing and she has really enjoyed that."
Residents can have peace of mind living at Brookdale Cary, a small, close-knit community focused exclusively on memory care. The experienced, highly trained team is knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, helping residents find purpose each day through personalized care and a structured schedule of six unique activities. Through the Clare Bridge program, residents can receive 24/7 support with bathing, dressing, grooming and medication, while enjoying nutritious, chef-prepared meals and snacks. They can nurture their interests through art, exercise classes, music and cognitive stimulation such as puzzles, brain games and sharing stories. The environment is easy to navigate, with natural lighting and soothing colors leading the way to spacious therapy and activity rooms, indoor/outdoor common areas, an arts studio, beauty/barber shop and screened lanai, all protected by a 24-hour security system with monitored entryways.
Relatives like the community ambiance. "It is an excellent, clean place, and it is very inviting," says one family member. "She seems to like it pretty much, and we like it... They give her activities to work on her memory… There are programs that engage the people that live there, and the staff are very friendly."
For seniors living with memory loss, Brookdale Chapel Hill is a welcome place to call home. Nestled in a peaceful suburban area, this community offers residents a full schedule of activities that enrich the body and mind. Clare Bridge, the community’s memory care program, is divided into two sections, accommodating those with early and late-stage dementia. With the aid of specially trained staff, residents can receive 24/7 assistance with personal hygiene, grooming and medication management. Those in Crossings, the early-stage program, can participate in dance classes, journaling, sharing stories and exploring local cultural attractions. In the late-stage program, Solace, they can engage in sensory activities, such as aromatherapy and music. Easy-to-navigate floor plans feature cozy common areas, natural lighting and cheerful colors. All exterior doors are secured, with doorbells to monitor in/out movements.
Family members praise the caring team. One says, "Life-changing! Mom's journey at Brookdale Chapel Hill Memory Care has been a dream come true. She is the happiest I have seen her in a long time. EVERY staff member has gone out of their way to make Mom and me part of the Brookdale family."
A welcoming community nestled into a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, Brookdale Durham offers assisted living and memory care in a safe environment. Security and emergency response systems in every suite provide peace of mind for residents, who have the support of a 24/7 staff. In the Clare Bridge memory care neighborhood, team members are trained in the latest evidence-based dementia care practices. Through two distinct programs, residents with both early and late-stage dementia receive care designed around their unique needs. They can nurture their skills through a daily schedule of six planned activities, which includes art classes, live entertainment, dancing, brain games, walking clubs and fitness programs. Fresh meals are crafted around dietary demands. The easy-to-navigate setting features spacious common areas, a library, courtyard and garden.
Visiting family members like the wide range of programming. "They have lots of different activities that are unlike other places," one says. "They have a gentleman that comes every Saturday, and he plays songs from past years and sings for the residents there, and they just love that. We haven't found anything that we disliked there."
A lavish community in the heart of Cary, Brookdale MacArthur Park provides both assisted living and memory care. In the specially designed Clare Bridge neighborhood, residents experiencing memory loss can enjoy welcoming common areas and activity spaces with an easy-to-navigate layout, complete with cheerful colors, natural lighting and extra safety measures, such as doorbells to monitor in/out movements and secured entryways. On-site 24/7 staff, who receive ongoing training in dementia care, support residents through personalized treatment and a structure of six daily programs. Brain games, fitness programs, art and music classes, and aromatherapy encourage engagement and socialization. The pet-friendly campus features a 24-hour security system with a therapy room, beauty/barber shop and library, and it's equipped with Wi-Fi access throughout. Landscaped grounds with a courtyard and garden offer access to nature, fully enclosed for peace of mind.
Family members like the community ambiance and quality care. One says, "It is perfect with what we need. Everything is clean, and she is being taken care of. Everything is great. Everybody is friendly. It is a small community with good care. It has attentive nurses and attentive people... They have a lot of activities."
A comfortable community with a homelike ambiance, Brookdale Meadowmont provides assisted living and memory care in a peaceful setting, nestled in residential Chapel Hill. In the Clare Bridge memory care neighborhood, residents are placed into one of two programs designed around their cognitive needs. The Crossings area is for seniors in early-stage dementia, and Solace is for those in later stages. Both programs feature specially trained staff, available 24 hours via the push of a button, who utilize the latest research-based activities and approaches. From assistance with dressing and grooming to sensory support through aromatherapy and music, the team offers assistance based on each resident’s distinct needs. Each day features six programs to encourage engagement, including fitness classes, crafting and brain games. Fresh, chef-prepared meals are served, with snacks and refreshments available all day. The campus features a 24-hour security system, monitored entryways and easy-to-navigate floor plans.
Loved ones praise the staff, activities and meals. One says, "Staff on all levels are very friendly and have addressed my questions and concerns immediately. There are opportunities for the residents to go out on supervised trips ... His room is spacious and clean and the food is plentiful and served hot and snacks are always accessible."
Carolina Reserve of Durham is a senior living community located in Durham, NC. Residents live in private or companion apartments and staff are on hand at all times to assist with personal care and daily tasks. Pathways to Discovery, the community memory care program, is led by dementia specialists who utilize memory care-specific de-escalation techniques, specialized staff support and specific community features such as pleasing colors and visual cues to create a calm environment. Delicious and healthy meals have been approved by certified dieticians and prepared with fresh and local ingredients every day, with all meals served in the inviting restaurant-style dining room. Resident engagement is bolstered by the Daily Living Program, a mildly structured daily selection of tailored events and activities based on residents' personal hobbies and preferences, including exercise opportunities, art creation and resident gardening.
Residents and their families praise the community's welcoming atmosphere and commitment to compassionate, personal care. One family member said, "I was really impressed how they tried to incorporate things in my dad's life experiences into activities for him. It is really reassuring the way the community is set up for memory care residents.”
Elmcroft of Hillsborough boasts a comfortable campus and pet-friendly, homelike atmosphere. A single-story layout makes navigation simple for residents. Chronicles, the community's memory care program, features multi-sensory experiences, nostalgic decor and secure indoor and outdoor communal spaces for residents to safely explore. The program emphasizes independence, though staff is constantly on standby to provide necessary assistance with everything from dining to dressing to medication management. Care plans are individual to each resident and tailored to their cognitive conditions. Staff members learn specifics about each resident's history to further personalize programming elements. Elmcroft's regularly scheduled activities, designed to increase social interaction and reinforce cognitive skills, include options such as group exercise classes, Bible study and religious services, crafting and Sunday social hours.
Reviews by residents and their family members often note Elmcroft's experienced and caring staff, wide variety of activities and delicious menu options. One writes, "My mom moved into Elmcroft of Hillsborough. She seems happy there and well cared for ... in the hallway in the memory care unit, they have these wall puzzles instead of framed pictures that the residents can stop and play with, and I was impressed by that."
HeartFields at Cary offers a safe, caring environment for elders to age in place. The memory care neighborhood has attractive indoor communal spaces that encourage socialization and secure outdoor areas so residents can enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Living suites have a welcoming atmosphere to make residents feel at home. This community has an in-house beauty salon and barbershop and a library and offers pet therapy. The Bridge to Rediscovery memory care program tailors activities to each resident's personal abilities and interests so they remain engaged and active. Maintaining existing daily living skills is important to help community members build self-esteem and thrive. Nutritious, tasty meals aim to tempt the appetites of even the picky eaters.
The caring staff at this community make a good impression. This relative says, "It's an amazing, clean, and comfortable home for senior living. The staff, from admin to nursing care, go above and beyond for the seniors." Another family member comments, "I am totally satisfied with the care she is receiving. Everyone is caring and compassionate."
Home Place of Burlington has a pleasant community setting off U.S. Route 70, a few blocks from Burlington City Park Amusement Area, close to Holly Hill Mall and approximately 3 miles from Cone Health Alamance Regional Medical Center. Its well-ventilated front porch features comfortable rocking chairs, and its extensive backyard provides tranquil views of the nearby woods. The community's modern two-level building is designed with charming boutique-style living, dining and activity areas that create a warm, homey ambiance. Home Place's Bridge to Rediscovery Alzheimer’s and dementia care program benefits cognitively impaired residents with individually tailored medical support, entertaining social engagements and an appropriate combination of stimulating and therapeutic daily experiences. Regular activities include arts and crafts, pet therapy, themed socials and parties for celebrations both big and small. Restaurant-style dining features fresh, seasonal entrees.
People describe Home Place at Burlington as an appealing community. A loved one writes, "I have had a parent at Homeplace for eleven years, and I know of no other place that can compare … When an issue is brought to their attention, they do their best to correct it. Rooms are comfortable, food is good, and the environment is clean.”
Morningside of Raleigh promotes an elegant, homelike environment for residents. The community uses the Bridge to Rediscovery program, which incorporates occupational and recreational therapies. Dining experiences for memory care are tailored to the nutritional needs of residents. The community focuses on consistency and routines, promoting a sense of calm and focusing on spiritual, emotional and mental wellness. Family support for those in memory care is available as well. Amenities include an on-site beauty salon, activity center and restaurant-style dining. Pet therapy is also available.
Residents and their loved ones appreciate the amenities of this community and its diverse activities calendar. One writes, "Morningside of Raleigh is absolutely marvelous, and we highly recommend it. My mom does bridge, flower arranging and bingo. She has done more activities in a month at this place than she did in three months at her previous facility."
Seasons at Southpoint is a community where staff endeavors to make each day a joyful one. The memory care neighborhood residents participate in the Bridge to Rediscovery program that encourages them to undertake activities that match their abilities and interests. Basic skills such as feeding themselves are maintained with easy-to-choose meal options and butler-style service by friendly staff. Chefs prepare tasty, nutritious meals with locally sourced ingredients with the wellness of residents in mind. The neighborhood is secure, and visual clues and themes help community members navigate the premises. Well-trained caregivers offer fun recreational activities and exercise sessions to keep bodies and minds working. Consistent daily routines and familiar, comfortable furnishings help residents feel relaxed and safe. Visits to the in-house barbershop and beauty salon let residents experience pampering to make them feel good about themselves.
Family members have a high regard for the care in this community. One daughter says, "What I appreciate most is they see her as an individual not just as a number. They have spent time getting to know her and talking with her." Another relative comments, "She is safe and constantly brought into group activities that help keep her alert."
Spring Arbor of Apex has a convenient location in a residential area just over a mile from Apex’s historic downtown, WakeMed Apex Healthplex and shopping centers on North Carolina Highway 55. This midsize community has an accessible single-floor layout and inviting amenities, including a spacious front porch, backyard gazebo, sunroom, self-serve coffee shop and full-service salon/barbershop. Residents can benefit from personalized care, medication management and coordinated on-site physical, occupational and speech therapy services. Memory care residents are accommodated at The Cottage, which has its own secured patio area, dining/activity room, life skills kitchen and sensory room. The Cottage memory care program aims to meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of seniors through enjoyable daily experiences. Therapeutic activities include Royal Treatments pampering, Bakers’ Corner, the Gardening Club, Art from the Heart and aromatherapy.
Families deeply appreciate the Spring Arbor of Apex staff. One reviewer comments, "They are truly heroes who went beyond their duties to show compassion for their residents, and were always there with a generous and happy heart to all the families. I went to visit mom almost every day, and there was always something being cleaned, or events going on.”
Conveniently located near downtown's dining, shopping and cultural attractions, Sunrise of Raleigh offers quality care in a lively neighborhood. Residents are paired with life enrichment managers who get to know their needs best, ensuring they receive a high level of support 24 hours a day. In the Reminiscence neighborhood, seniors can enjoy a secure setting with a calm ambiance, adjacent areas for living and dining, country kitchens where they can help prepare meals and softly-lit reflection rooms for relaxing or visiting with loved ones. Memory-focused activities feature an assortment of brain games, art and music classes, puzzles and crafts, all in a specialized area to boost engagement and socialization. Secure outdoor spaces enable easy access to nature, while resident pets and frequent visits from children offer further support. Multiple hospitals and medical facilities are available within a 10-mile radius.
Loved ones praise the caring team. One says, "Sunrise of Raleigh was very good. They met all of our needs and took care of my aunt very well. They were helpful, friendly, kind, courteous, and professional. The rooms were very nice and clean. The food was very good, and the dining room was very nice."
The Addison of Durham is a senior living community located in Durham, NC. Residents in need of memory care reside in a secured neighborhood within the community, with several floor plans available, each including emergency call systems and daily housekeeping. Trained memory care staff are on hand 24/7 to provide assistance and companionship, and residents are kept safe through secured entrances, navigation cues and familiar settings. The Embrace Memory Care program creates daily schedules that include fitness classes, engaging games, therapeutic spa treatments, planned outings and community celebrations. The culinary team creates personalized meals to meet any dietary need or craving, and a landscaped courtyard is secure and features patios with shaded seating.
Reviewers commend the community for its caring staff and pleasant, welcoming environment. One resident says, "It is a wonderful place, so clean and well lit with sunshine. Most important, the staff is so caring, conscientious and willing to help with every need."
At The Reserve at Mills Farm, seniors can experience a full spectrum of support ranging from independent living to memory care. Personalized plans ensure that every resident receives suitable services. Caregivers are available 24 hours a day and specially trained to address residents’ unique needs, from assistance with personal hygiene and grooming to support with cognitive challenges. Overseen by an experienced dementia care specialist, Pathways to Discovery is a purpose-built memory care neighborhood within the community that provides a secure environment with a passionate team and engaging activity calendar. Each day, the community offers a variety of social, learning, fitness and creative opportunities to experience; seniors are encouraged to explore their interests, try new hobbies and have fun. Three nutritious meals are served every day, with choices ranging from classic favorites to global cuisine and all made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Residents' family members like the diverse amenities. One says, "The amenities are what really sold us because our Mom is still very active! They have a movie theater on site, beauty-shop to get her hair done weekly (a must for her), close to shopping, and an individualized meal plan ... so happy we have found this community."
Waltonwood Cary Parkway is a senior living community located in Cary, NC. The secured memory care neighborhood is painted in comforting colors to provide familiar navigation clues. Numerous styles of private apartments are available, with easy-to-navigate floor plans, large windows and walk-in showers. Each room includes a personalized memory box outside each door, featuring important mementos special to each resident. Specially trained staff are on hand to assist with personal care and help create familiar relationships with residents to promote confidence and reduce anxiety. In the restaurant-style dining room, on-site chefs create healthy and delicious meals with diet-conscious options to ensure a memorable dining experience. The Forever Fit program consists of fitness classes for flexibility and balance, and a life enrichment coordinator creates specialized memory care activity plans of structured, daily routines involving small group activities and familiar personal tasks.
Residents and their families praise the caring and compassionate staff, and the community is commended for its enriching offerings. One family member says, "The staff are incredible. They have a wonderful activity program that has kept Mom busy and has allowed her to develop lasting friendships."
Waltonwood Lake Boone has an accessible and tranquil setting in West Raleigh’s Ridge Park neighborhood, located off Interstate 440 and along the House Creek Greenway Trail. The community’s memory care neighborhood is designed with safe outdoor spaces and supportive visual cues, such as varied wall colors and personalized memory boxes outside the residents’ apartment doors. Its sensory room features sound machine audio and wall-projected images that create a calming atmosphere. Memory care activities include morning exercises, karaoke, trivia, crafting and scenic drives. Waltonwood Lake Boone's upscale campus features three courtyards, a garden room and a solarium. Other elegant amenities include the fitness center, the Sundance Theater, the Arbor Hobby Room, the Juniper Library and the Sandalwood Salon.
A resident’s son commends Waltonwood Lake Boone’s resilience, compassion and creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic. He writes, "They have bent over backwards to help him out maintaining connections however possible (safe visits/electronic visits, etc). They altered the programming and dining to take care of the residents and went above and beyond to ensure he wasn't just feeling isolated.”
Woodland Terrace is on a tranquil 22-acre campus with beautiful wooded surroundings, paved walking trails and a large fountain lake with ducks. This Kisco Senior Living community is conveniently located about 2 miles from Cary Towne Center and WakeMed Cary Hospital. Its signature Art of Living Well culture promotes well-rounded lifestyles through state-of-the-art amenities and varied activities. Its fitness center has an indoor heated pool, and the elegant main dining room offers over 30 chef-prepared menu choices daily. The community’s single-floor apartment building consists of Verra Springs assisted living and Arboretum memory care neighborhoods with secured courtyards. Memory care residents may receive medication management services in addition to personal care, and a nurse is on duty daily and on call 24/7 for around-the-clock medical support. Activities offered at The Arboretum include Music & Memory, gardening and aquatic exercises.
Families claim that Woodland Terrace is one of the best senior living facilities in the Cary area. One reviewer says, "My husband has been a resident at Woodland Terrace for 3 years. I am so glad to report that he is being extremely well taken care of. The staff is friendly and very caring.”