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Is a senior you love living with memory loss? Perhaps you are just starting to notice the signs of their cognitive decline or maybe they have already been given a diagnosis by a physician. At some point, this condition may cause your loved one to require full time care. Regardless of where you are in this journey, it's important to understand what options are available so you can make the most informed decisions moving forward.

For seniors living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, nursing homes and memory care communities are the most common. Although these terms may be used interchangeably in common conversation, these two types of senior living options are not identical. Keep reading to find out the differences between a nursing home and memory care.

What do nursing homes and memory care have in common?

Both nursing homes and memory care communities offer 24-hour long-term care and supervision for seniors. Their staff provides residents assistance with daily tasks, similar to assisted living communities. This may include dressing, bathing, toileting, and more. They also offer medication management and other necessary medical services.

Most nursing homes and memory care communities offer a choice of shared or independent living spaces, depending on personal preference and budget. They also create an individualized care plan for each resident, which varies based on diagnosis, community practices, and the resident's wants and needs.

Although in general, both nursing homes and memory care communities provide round the clock care for seniors with cognitive decline, there are also many differences between these two types of care.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes typically provide both long and short term care for patients who suffer from a wide range of medical difficulties. In some circumstances, nursing homes may also be called "skilled nursing facilities." However, a nursing home typically offers more long term care while a skilled nursing facility offers more short term care, like rehabilitation after a surgery or stroke.

Regardless of the length of stay, nursing homes are equipped to provide constant medical attention to seniors with a wide range of complications. When care from a hospital is unnecessary, but at home care is not feasible, a nursing home tends to be that sweet spot of care right in between. These facilities are prepared to provide substantial medical support, such as IV treatment, injections, and wound recovery.

Nursing homes also tend to have various therapy treatments available on-site. This may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech services.

The security of a nursing home depends largely on its management team and the needs of its residents. However, they tend to be fairly secure, allowing visitors during certain portions of the day and only allowing residents to leave the facility with a family member if it is safe to do so.

Memory Care

Memory care communities offer many of the same services as assisted living communities and nursing homes. However, the sole focus of memory care is to help seniors living with Alzheimer's disease, other forms of dementia, or overall decline in cognitive function.

Each aspect of memory care is tailored toward making everyday living more accessible and engaging for seniors with cognitive decline. This includes creating a physical environment that helps eliminate confusion. For example, memory care neighborhoods may have color-coded hallways so residents are less likely to lose their way.

Similarly, memory care communities tend to offer unique programming to enhance the daily lives of its residents. This may include designing a predictable daily schedule and opportunities for sessions of music or art therapy. Staff are trained to work with seniors living with various forms of dementia so they can use best practices. They create activities and events that support healthy socialization and cognitive engagement in a way that is inviting and accessible specifically for their residents.

Additional safety measures are put into place to ensure the safety of all residents. From something as simple as creating an enclosed courtyard to prevent wandering away from the neighborhood to securing exits with special locks, each memory care community has its own preferences for how to best keep their residents safe. For safety purposes, residents are not able to leave the memory care neighborhood unless accompanied by a family or staff member.

Is a Nursing Home or Memory Care Right For My Loved One?

Although there are countless ways to arrive at your next decision, first consider if your loved one is experiencing noticeable cognitive decline. If so, Fulton memory care may be the best next step. Having a group of peers who are experiencing similar struggles can create a unique sense of connection and community. Being surrounded by staff that is highly trained to promote both physical and cognitive wellness can also be highly beneficial.

Our team is committed to helping you find the right living solution for your loved ones. We’ve created a free resource to help simplify your search—download your Journey to Senior Living Guide today.

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The Arbor Company

About the Author: The Arbor Company

Through a commitment to developing an outstanding and tenured staff, The Arbor Company maintains a progressive clinical and competitive edge that embraces both resident and family needs.

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