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What is the Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Memory Care?

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A young smiling nurse putting a blanket around a sitting male senior citizen at a retirement home

The team at Arcadia at Limerick Pointe understands how overwhelming it can be to choose the correct level of care for your elderly loved one, and we want to help. 

Online research provides many options, and it can be challenging to determine the most suitable choice when considering your family member’s specific care needs. You may have heard of 2 particular types of facilities: 

If you have a family member who needs full-time care, it’s vital to understand the difference between these types of facilities before making your decision. 

2 Types of Care 

There are some distinguishing characteristics to skilled nursing and memory care facilities that may help you determine the best placement for your loved one. 

Paying close attention to these differences will help you feel confident that the chosen facility will meet your family member’s needs in their new environment, and ensure they’re able to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

The simple difference between a memory care facility and a skilled nursing home is their form of specialized care: 

  • Skilled nursing homes are health care facilities providing short-term and long-term round-the-clock, high-level medical care from licensed health professionals.  
  • Memory care facilities cater specifically to residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

Skilled Nursing 

A loved one with comprehensive medical issues requiring 24-hour nursing care could benefit from a skilled nursing home. Skilled nursing can provide high-quality care for a bedridden family member or a family member needing full-time short or long-term nursing care.

Skilled nursing communities are for residents who: 

  • Cannot live independently
  • Have severe health or mobility issues
  • Requiring medical surveillance
  • Require medical supervision
  • Require assistance with the activities of daily living

Medical care in a skilled nursing home services may include: 

  • 24/7 supervision and care from trained medical professionals 
  • Medication management
  • Dressings and wound care 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Speech therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • IV therapy 
  • Respiratory therapy 

Family members with conditions like Parkinson’s disease or respiratory illnesses may require highly specialized forms of care and medical equipment. Long-term stays in skilled nursing facilities ensure proper care by licensed professionals, focused on their total wellbeing. 

A skilled nursing facility can also offer a short-term care setting for loved ones recovering from surgery, illness, or injury. Patients receive help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and medication management while they rehabilitate.  

In addition to medical care, most skilled nursing facilities offer a personalized, friendly, home-like environment with activities catering to their residents and various socializing opportunities.

Services in a skilled nursing home could include: 

  • Meals 
  • Housekeeping 
  • Opportunities for indoor and outdoor exercise
  • Private or shared accommodations, depending on budget and availability
  • Activities like crafts, games, puzzles 
  • Social opportunities like book clubs and movie nights

Although skilled nursing homes can offer elderly residents with memory loss support, it’s vital to note that staff are not provided the same specialized training for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, such as those received in a memory care facility. 

A young nurse linking arms with a female senior at a retirement home and helping her walk down the hall

Memory Care

Memory loss occurs as a natural part of the aging process; however, there are more pronounced situations of age-related memory loss, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, they may benefit from the 24-hour specialized care of memory loss provided by a memory care facility.

Memory care is specifically designed to mimic life at home, with specialized supports catered to someone with memory loss. 

Staff is trained in specialized areas of memory loss support, helping to provide holistic, compassionate care, and treatment of challenging dementia behaviors, such as: 

  • Agitation
  • Physical or verbal aggression
  • Emotional distress
  • Restlessness
  • Destructive behaviors
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Memory care provides a secure environment to minimize confusion and prevent wandering while enhancing the quality of life for patients with memory loss. Safety features like alarmed exit doors ensure your loved ones stay safe and relaxed in a warm, caring environment. 

Meals are often served in a comfortable, family-style setting, and highly-trained, experienced staff members assist residents with their activities of daily living (ADLs).

The programs offered in a memory care facility are personalized with a specific focus on memory enhancement and cognitive abilities. Programs are thoroughly researched, providing life-enriching daily activities that help ensure a high quality of life and comfort for residents. 

Programs offered in a memory care facility may include: 

  • Puzzles, crafts, and games: Physical and mental stimulation customized to each resident’s abilities.
  • Music therapy: Music and memories are often intrinsically linked, and listening to familiar music can help improve cognitive skills and lower stress levels.
  • Art therapy: A creative outlet, regardless of skill or cognitive ability. 

Most memory care facilities have unique design features that help promote comfort and relaxation, reducing confusion for residents with memory loss.

Design features that enhance feelings of personal wellbeing for patients with memory loss include:

  • Brightly colored walls & floors: Help support the patient’s visual limitations, drawing their eyes to furnishings and pinpointed areas of each room.  
  • Plenty of natural light: Natural light has a calming effect, and helps transition from day into night. 
  • Community spaces: Encouraging social interactions and promoting togetherness. 

A Proper Balance 

You can rest easy knowing that your loved one is appropriately cared for if placed in a suitable facility. Memory care facilities and nursing homes both provide 24-hour care, supervision, meals, and support with the activities of daily living in 2 different, specialized environments. 

Your family members who require significant medical care can benefit from a skilled nursing facility, and loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may thrive in a supportive memory care environment.  

Remember to research your chosen facility carefully, look closely at the available care options, and seek help from other family members, friends, or your family doctors. 

Contact our friendly staff at Arcadia at Limerick Pointe if you want more information about the differences between skilled nursing and memory care. We’re always available to offer guidance and support, and are passionate about senior living! 

Written by Arcadia Limerick Pointe

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