Memory Care vs. Nursing Home: What’s the Difference?

Cheerful senior women talk with one another while sitting on the porch of their retirement home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health of caregivers is at risk.

The caregivers the CDC refers to are family caregivers – a family member who provides informal or unpaid care to an aging loved one. An overwhelming number of those family caregivers are caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It’s a number that grows daily. There is no end in sight.

Providing care at home has its risks.

It’s natural to want to care for a loved one at home for as long as possible. It’s a noble goal. In fact, many aspects of caregiving are rewarding. But as health and/or capabilities decline, caregiving becomes more difficult and potentially unsafe, not only for the person receiving the care but for the caregiver as well.

Studies show that family caregivers are at increased risk for negative health consequences. They experience more stress, depression, and have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general – all of which compromises their ability to provide good care.

And caregivers and their families often experience financial hardships due to missed work and unexpected medical expenses that happen because of the demands of caregiving.

Where to turn?

When providing care is no longer possible at home, it’s time to consider a long-term care solution. Memory care facilities or nursing homes are the places most families trust for help.

What’s right for you?

It all depends on the specific needs of your loved one and where they may be on their journey. First, learn what types of care and services memory care centers and nursing homes provide – and understand the differences between them. We’ll help you. Here’s what we think is most important to know when it comes to memory care vs. nursing homes:

What is the main difference between memory care and a nursing home?

A question we are often asked: “Is memory care considered skilled nursing?  While many skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes provide care to people with dementia, these  patients also have other health conditions requiring more complex medical care and 24-hour supervision.

Memory care communities cannot provide the level of care offered in a skilled nursing center. If your loved one’s health needs change or worsen, a move to a skilled nursing center may be necessary.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home vs. Memory Care

Differences & Similarities

Services Assisted Living Memory Care Nursing Home
Daily dining
Housekeeping & laundry
Life-enrichment activities
ADL support
Specialized care for memory loss
Secure environment
Community designed to benefit people living with memory loss
Medically complex nursing care
Rehabilitation services
Dementia-certified team

When To Choose Memory Care

If your loved one is living with dementia, a memory care facility is where they’ll get the support they require to help them manage the condition better.

When To Choose a Nursing Home

Because of the extensive medical support available in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, a nursing home is best for those with a debilitating medical issue. Also consider the length of time professional support is required because nursing homes offer both short- and long-term care support.

Paying for Care

How you pay for care depends on location, the type of community, and your financial situation. Many families pay a lot of the costs out of pocket.

Medicare will pay for certain nursing services following a hospital release and hospice care while in a nursing home or memory care facility, but it will not pay for long-term residential living. Private long-term care insurance sometimes covers some of the costs of care provided in nursing homes and memory care communities.

Medicaid covers many nursing home and long-term care services in Medicaid-approved facilities. To qualify, certain requirements must be met with regard to level of care, income and assets. These requirements vary from state to state. Veterans benefits may also help offset some of the costs for both.

Quality of Life for Loved Ones, and Peace of Mind for You.

Deciding to move a loved one into any kind of senior living community is not easy, but families often find it ends up being the best decision – both for their loved one and for them. Memory care centers and nursing homes are built to offer the care and services that meet your loved one’s very specific needs, giving them quality of life and priceless peace of mind. Cascade Living Group offers highly specialized memory care at our communities that span the West Coast. As you navigate the memory care decision-making process, we invite you to learn more about our locations and living options.