If your elderly parent requires full-time care, you may be considering memory care or a nursing home. Both of these long-term care types provide 24-hour supervision, meals, and help with everyday activities such as dressing and medication management. But memory care and nursing homes differ in distinct and important ways.
Memory care — also called Alzheimer’s care or dementia care homes — provides housing, support services, and various levels of health care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia, or other forms of memory loss.
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This type of care focuses on enhancing the quality of life for people with dementia, while minimizing wandering, frustration, and depression. Memory care facilities provide a secure area, often with alarmed exit doors, and employ specially trained staff.
Dementia care homes are uniquely designed to reduce confusion and prevent wandering with features like:
Unique treatments for dementia patients include:
Memory care units have trained staff to help prevent and minimize dementia behaviors, such as:
The median cost of memory care was around $5,000 to $5,250 a month in 2019, according to elder care cost figures from Genworth. Memory care costs fluctuate based on location and community. Pricing can range anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 a month.
Sometimes called skilled nursing facilities or convalescent homes, nursing homes provide housing, 24-hour monitoring, meal services, help with everyday activities, and medical assistance for debilitated seniors. Seniors in nursing homes don’t require hospital care but can’t live independently. They may be bedridden, in need of a wheelchair, or in need of daily nursing care.
Nursing home care requires a physician’s prescription and physical exam before a resident can move in. Medicare’s nursing home compare tool can help you find detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the U.S.
Two types of care options are available:
Nursing homes services may include:
Possible therapies include:
An elderly person with extensive medical needs that require skilled nursing can benefit most from a nursing home. This environment is best for seniors who:
The cost of a nursing home depends on your state and whether it’s private or owned by the state. The average cost in the U.S. in 2019 was $247 a day or $7,512 a month.
Care in states like Alaska, Hawaii, and Connecticut costs as much as $452 to $907 per day. Nursing home care elsewhere — such as in Missouri, Louisiana, or Oklahoma — costs significantly less, around $174 or $182 a day.
Speak with your family, your elderly loved one, and their doctor or case manager to better understand their health care needs.
Our free Senior Living Advisors have helped thousands of families find senior living for their aging family members. Contact them to discuss your loved one’s needs and available care options in your area.
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.