Key Similarities And Differences Between Assisted Living And Memory Care
Memory care isnt always a standalone community. Often, assisted living or skilled nursing homes have a separate memory care wing. Seniors in memory care may experience the same socialization and activities, but with an added layer of 24/7 protection. If possible, having both options in one facility can be an advantage, says Snow. The person can begin in a less restrictive type of setting in assisted living, with the option to transition to memory care as needs, abilities and interests are changed by the condition.
Both care types offer some autonomy while assisting with cleaning, bathing and medication management, but staff in a memory care unit is specifically trained to work with people with cognitive impairments.
Assisted Living Vs Nursing Home For Those With Dementia: Costs And Paying For Care
Assisted living, memory care, and nursing home care are all expensive, and each of them requires out-of-pocket payment until long-term care insurance or Medicaid kicks in. Medicare does not pay for nursing home care, only skilled nursing. The monthly median cost of care, according to Genworth, was $4300. A shared room in a nursing home was $7756.
If someone has dementia and is in assisted living or memory care, their costs could be considerably higher than $4300 due to significant care needs and where they live.
Most residents of nursing homes eventually qualify for Medicaid, the insurance plan for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Paying for assisted living, memory care, or a nursing home requires that families have significant savings or assets from the sale of a home or retirement income.
Memory Care Vs Nursing Care: Whats Better For Dementia Patients
As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the need for senior communities around our country grows. One level of care many seniors and their families find they need is dementia care. There are two different types of communities with different state licenses that provide this level of care: assisted living memory care facilities and nursing care facilities with an Alzheimers certification.
So, which one is better for your loved one with dementia? Lets take a look at the similarities and differences.
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How Are They Different
Compared to the similarities, the differences between memory care and nursing care facilities are vast:
- Nursing care communities are required to have a nurse on-site 24/7 , whereas most memory care communities only have a nurse part time.
- CertifiedAlzheimers nursing care requires a ratio of 1 staff member per 6 residents. Most memory care does not meet that standard.
- Nursing care administrators must have a bachelors degree, go through a 1,000-hour internship and take a state licensing exam, whereas memory care managers only need a GED and 24 hours of training. The nursing home license requires the Administrator to have a Nursing Facility Administrator License to lead the nursing home.
- Additionally, the nursing care license requires:
- Front-line nursing aids to be certified through the state as certified nursing aids, which is a 100-hour certification. Memory care resident attendants do not have to have specialized training.
- A licensed nurse to pass out medications, whereas memory care permits unlicensed staff to pass out medications.
- A social worker who leads a quarterly care plan with families and helps counsel them through the challenges of this disease memory care facilities do not.
- Physicians to do weekly rounds, whereas memory care does not.
- A medical director to oversee the residents care, which is not required in memory care.
How To Decide Between Assisted Living And Memory Care
Assisted living may be a good fit for your loved one if memory loss is not an immediate concern. Its a great choice for seniors who are relatively independent and social but may require some help throughout the day.
If cognitive decline is a concern, however, ask yourself these questions to determine the best fit for your aging relative:
If you answered yes to any of these questions and are concerned about your loved ones safety, memory care might be the best option for your family member.
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What Is Long Term Care
Long term care refers to assisted living where a senior needs the assistance of a caregiver for activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and taking oral medications at the correct time, in addition to ongoing access to licensed medical care.
Long term care facilities are typically part of skilled nursing facilities, making them ideal for residents who need hands-on care and supervision around the clock, but dont need the specialized care of skilled nursing.
Long term care is ideal for patients who have:
- Dementia, Alzheimers disease, and other cognitive disorders
- Parkinsons disease and other neurological conditions
- Chronic conditions limiting mobility and ability to live independently
Long term care isnt meant to provide the same level of medical care as skilled nursing, but there will likely be access to medical practitioners should they be needed. Because long term care is more of a permanent residence than skilled nursing, it isnt typically covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. That said, your specific plan coverages may vary.
How Are They Similar
All memory care and nursing care communities are designed for people living with dementia should provide families a safe environment where they can leave their loved one and have peace of mind knowing they are receiving expert care. These communities should all provide medication management, meals, activities, outings and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Both types of communities can care for residents who have early-stage dementia fairly well some better than others.
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Assisted Living Vs Nursing Home: Duration Of Stay
Depending on the services that the assisted living facilities offer, senior citizens may end up staying many years in their new living quarters. Some senior living facilities make it possible for residents to receive continuing care services and accommodations and spend the rest of their lives without moving to any other place. Such facilities are called continuing care retirement communities, and they generally include both independent living, assisted living and even nursing homes all in one community.
Many people who end up in nursing homes do not stay more than half a year in the institutions. Because a majority of occupants go to nursing homes to receive rehabilitative care after incidents like heart attacks or stroke, they only stay for a couple of months before going back home or seeking alternative senior care options. There are some older adults who end up staying several years in nursing homes, but this isnt the norm.
The Difference Between Memory Care And Skilled Nursing: Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing homes are health care facilities that provide both long-term and short-term care, with medical assistance around the clock. This high level of medical care must be provided by licensed health professionals such as registered nurses and physical, speech or occupational therapists. The care covers a range of services that may include assistance with the activities of daily living, memory care and/or rehabilitation services.
A doctor may recommend skilled nursing to treat a loved ones ongoing medical condition, or as a short-term stay to help them recover after hospitalization for injury or illness. As such, your loved one receives personalized care for their unique needs. With access to many levels of professional staff, the medical care found in a skilled nursing home is the most robust you can find outside a hospital setting.
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Pros And Cons Of Memory Care
- Safety:If you have a loved one who is unsafe at home or even in assisted living, memory care can bring peace of mind. Staff monitor residents for unsafe behaviors, and the secure nature of the community eliminates the dangers of wandering.
- Individualized attention:For someone with dementia living at home, things can get lonely. Families can sometimes struggle to keep a loved one occupied and stimulated. In memory care, every effort is made to keep people engaged.
- Companionship:Most staff in memory care communities are trained to support people with dementia. The caring and compassionate care they bring to residents can make a positive difference.
- The mix of residents can be distressing:Some memory care communities are large enough to separate their residents according to cognitive ability. But, most place everyone in the same unit regardless of their diagnosis. Some people may find the behaviors of others upsetting.
- Confining space:Memory care environments can be small and claustrophobic. If your loved one likes to wander, these smaller spaces could cause agitation. If possible, look for memory care that has outdoor patio space and common rooms.
- Expense:Due to the higher staff to resident ratio, costs for memory care can be high.
Assisted Living Vs Nursing Homes For People With Dementia
Having a loved one with dementia can be a heartbreaking experience. The person you have known your entire life seems to be slipping away, and you may not recognize them as the same person. Dementia does not affect everyone in the same way, and the symptomsalthough similarcan come on with speed or more slowly and discretely.
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Generally speaking, dementia symptoms fall into two categories. People may have significant cognitive problems, like memory loss and poor judgment, but be physically stable. Or they may experience cognitive issues along with co-occurring medical conditions and loss of physical function.
As you decide on the safest care for your loved one, you might be at the point of choosing between assisted living, memory care, and a nursing home.
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How To Choose Between Assisted Living Vs Memory Care
Choosing between assisted living and memory care isnt a decision you should make lightly or quickly. Ultimately, there are several things you need to consider before opting for a general assisted living facility over specialized memory care and vice versa.
For instance, if your loved one shows signs of cognitive decline, you should consider finding a home for them in a memory care community. On the other hand, assisted living may be best if memory loss is not an immediate concern.
Cognitive decline behaviors you should look out for in your elderly parents or loved one include:
- When your loved one starts getting lost in familiar places
- When your loved one requires assistance and lots of directions for their daily tasks
- When your loved one requires mobility assistance
- Withdrawal from interactions or socializing
- When your loved one needs assistance with medications
- When your loved one 24-hour supervision
Another consideration is the level of independence and socialization that your family member displays. If your parents are pretty much independent, then assisted living is an excellent choice. However, memory care is a more specialized option for people with immediate memory loss concerns who arent capable of independent living independently.
Where Can I Find A Nursing Care Facility That Truly Specializes In Dementia
James L. West Center for Dementia Care in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of those communities that has a nursing license and specializes in caring for people living with dementia and their families. We have five residential homes designed to meet the needs of each resident at their specific stage of the disease, and we care for most dementia-related needs. James L. West also provides 24/7 respite care as well as a day program. Plus, we offer around 20 classes of FREE dementia education as well as support groups led by a licensed counselor to help families who need guidance through this challenging time of life. Our medical director, Dr. Janice Knebl from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, oversees the care of each resident.
Whether memory or nursing care, you need to choose what is best for your family. James L. West is happy to help. Learn more about dementia on our website or by phone at 817-877-1199.
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Memory Care Vs Assisted Living: Staff Training
Memory care communities and assisted living communities both share similar staff, such as nurses and nursing assistants. However, memory care communities boast staff with additional training and experience with the issues people living with dementia often face such as swallowing difficulties, wandering, and anxiety. Staff working in memory care communities, from the administrator to the housekeepers, are required by most states to attend continuing education classes that help them understand the brains of people living with dementia while mastering strategies for mitigating distress and supporting residents. If your loved one seems anxious or has problem behaviors, or you have trouble supporting and reassuring them at home, memory care is usually the superior option.
Differences In Payment Accepted
The cost of senior care can be somewhat staggering, with a private room in a skilled nursing facility costing an average of $90,500 annually. Assisted living costs are slightly less, costing an average of $42,000 annually.
Medicare can help defray the cost for seniors to pay for skilled nursing care if the care is medically required for at least 3 days, but no more than 100 days if the facility the person chooses is a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility. If you are unable to pay for nursing home services and have minimal assets, you may be eligible to pay for skilled nursing care through Medicaid.
When it comes to assisted living, neither Medicare Parts A or B offer coverage for comprehensive long-term care. Some states may offer some coverage through Medicaid programs but eligibility and coverage differ greatly between states. While payment options do vary in each state, residents in assisted living rely primarily on private pay options since most assisted living communities cannot legally accept public pay. Private pay options for assisted living include using veterans benefits, long-term care insurance, retirement savings, home equity loans, or reverse mortgages.
While the cost of senior care may seem daunting, with proper planning and guidance, many families find it is more affordable than it seems at first glance.
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What Services Can I Expect With Assisted Living Vs Memory Care
As previously mentioned, memory care specializes in caring for people with dementia, while assisted living provides day-to-day support for the elderly who can go about their activities independently.
Services Covered by Assisted Living
An assisted living facility will provide support for your loved one across the following areas:
- Minor over site with some ADLs
- Meal services
- Transportation to appointments
Services Covered by Memory Care
Memory care provides similar services as assisted living facilities, with the addition of specialized focus for someone with memory loss and disease-related behaviors.
These services include:
- Meal service and assistance as needed
- Medication management and oversite
- Care coordination and follow up
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Secured entrances and exits to prevent wandering
- Memory-enhanced therapies
- Unique layouts to reduce confusion
- Activities specifically focused for dementia
Assisted Living Vs Nursing Home: Whats The Difference
Its a life-changing experience if the time comes when your mom or dad stops living at home and transitions into a senior living facility. Not only is it a complex decision with many practical details to consider, its also an emotional one.
Giving up full autonomy and independence is difficult for any person, and your mom and dad are probably no exception. Theres also a chance that the home your parent is leaving is a place of many memories, perhaps since you were a young child. This can make it even more difficult to say goodbye.
But there is some positive news during this transitional phase and its this: There are different senior living options, each with their own approach depending on the level of care that your mom or dad wants and needs.
Generally speaking, we tend to categorize senior housing into two broad groups: Assisted living facilities and nursing homes . While they might seem like the same thing, there are some important differences to understand between assisted living vs. nursing home.
Lets take a closer look at the precise differences between these two types of facilities so you can help your parent make an informed decision that best suits their particular care needs and desires for this next stage of life.
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What Is The Difference Between Assisted Living And A Nursing Home
In general, assisted living is for people who might need help with daily tasks. Nursing homes are for people who need a higher, more consistent level of care, often round-the-clock. Both assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer some of the same essential services, but studying the differences below can help you decide which type of care you need.
What Are The Alternatives To Assisted Living Or Nursing Homes For People With Dementia
There are alternatives to assisted living and nursing home care for people with dementia, but they will require careful monitoring.
In-home care is probably the most common alternative to assisted living for people with dementia. But there is a cost as care needs increase. Someone with dementia can do well for years at home with professional caregivers as long as there arent significant medical issues.
Board and care
Residential care homes can be an alternative to people with dementia as long as the person is relatively independent and doesn’t wander. Board and care homes have fewer residents5-10 on averageand can keep a closer eye on residents. However, if your loved one has complex medical needs, they may require a nursing home since board and care homes have minimal medical services, if any.
If you have the means to pay for private nursing for a loved one with dementia, you can use nurses to provide medical care, but you may also have to invest in medical equipment as well.
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