Struggling to understand the different options for senior living? Seniorly takes a deep dive into two types of senior living solutions that offer high-acuity care for older adults.
If you're caring for an elderly loved one, you may be wondering what the difference is between memory care and skilled nursing homes. Or, you may be wondering if a memory care facility is a nursing home. Or is it the other way around?
Both are types of long-term care, but they serve different purposes. Here's a look at the key differences between these two types of care for older adults.
Memory care is a type of long-term care that is designed specifically for older adults with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and other cognitive impairments. According to a recent study by Seniorly, dementia and related illnesses are expected to nearly double by 2060. And as Alzheimer's disease - which makes up between 60-80% of dementia cases - is on the rise, so too will be the demand for quality memory care.
For people living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, independence often decreases as symptoms become more severe. Memory care facilities offer a safe and secure environment for their patients and are staffed with professionals who are trained to deal with the unique needs of people with memory problems. These residents live within secure areas or a special wing of assisted living or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). It's important to note that skilled nursing communities are fully supervised by staff members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In order to provide the best care options possible in senior living, memory care communities have staff members who receive specialized training on how individuals with dementia or those who are simply suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) differ from others and what their specific needs might be for daily living.
Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide care that is more intensive than the memory care units. It is typically required when a person needs rehabilitative services or has complex medical needs that can't be met at home or in an assisted living facility. SNFs offer 24-hour care, seven days a week, and have staff members who are specially trained to provide medical care. Similar to rehabilitation services, skilled nursing can be chosen for short-term or long-term care.
Skilled nursing provides medical care that assisted living and memory care typically cannot provide, like IV insertion, injections, and other medical care. SNFs also offer the personalized care typical of assisted living, such help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, medication management, and dressing.
Moreover, skilled nursing communities also provide meals, laundry, housekeeping, social activities, physical therapy, and around-the-clock security.
The decision to move your loved one to skilled nursing usually comes down to two factors: the severity of their condition and their care needs. If your loved one's condition is serious enough that they need around-the-clock medical supervision, or if they require specialized care that can only be provided by trained medical professionals there, then skilled nursing is likely the best option.
Here are five signs that it might be time to transition to skilled nursing.
While skilled nursing often comes after you or your loved one has experienced some sort of unexpected medical event, if you realize that an SNF is in the near future, you should start discussing financing options to cover costs.
In addition to Medicare, here are some ways that you or your loved one can pay for skilled nursing:
The decision to move your loved one into a memory care community is not an easy one, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. The staff at memory care facilities are specially trained to deal with the unique needs of those with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Furthermore, they can provide the level of care and support that your loved one needs. Ultimately, this offers you the respite you need to care for yourself.
The following 12 warning signs are indicators that it might be time to start considering memory care for your loved one.
Many dementia patients struggle with the costs of healthcare and the financial aspect of memory care. Finding a way to pay for memory care services can be challenging. There are four main options to consider when trying to cover the costs of memory care:
Memory care communities often employ skilled nursing to deliver care to residents. The goal of skilled nursing services is to help patients overcome and rehabilitate their specific needs, while acknowledging that some conditions are chronic and require daily care.
Memory care helps those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. By placing them in a specially designed environment such as a memory care unit, they'll receive individualized care specifically catered to this type of patient's needs.
It can be a difficult task to know when your loved one needs to move out of assisted living and into a memory care . There are indications you can look for that will let you know it is time to move your loved one into a memory care facility.
To make the most informed decisions about their move, be sure to consult with family members and friends, health care professionals that are familiar with your loved one’s situation, neighbors, or anyone that may interact with them on a daily basis.
Ultimately, this will provide outside, unbiased, and valuable insight into whether or not your loved one is ready to transition into a new assisted living space.
All in all, it's essential to understand the difference between memory care and skilled nursing care in order to make informed decisions about options for those we hold dear. While both types of care provide essential support and assistance, they cater to different needs.
Remember that when deciding the most appropriate level of care, it's key to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Above all, take into consideration your loved one's specific needs, preferences, and medical requirements to ensure their comfort, dignity, and security.
Every person is deserving of personalized care that embraces compassion. By deepening our understanding of memory care and skilled nursing care, we can guarantee our loved ones receive the specialized support they need to lead a comfortable and fulfilling life.
See below for more resources to support your decision
Marlena del Hierro is Vice President of Partnerships and Seniorly’s Lead Gerontologist. Marlena earned her Master of Arts degree in Gerontology from San Francisco State University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development from California State University. She also serves in an advisory capacity for Jukebox Health. As Seniorly’s first employee, Marlena is a vocal advocate for evolving the aging paradigm, and is a frequent contributor to public discussions about aging. She has served as a resource for media outlets like WGBH, FOX News, CNBC and the Today Show.
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