Memory Care vs. Skilled Nursing

Memory Care vs. Skilled Nursing Facilities: What’s the difference?

Advice for families in search of the right care for their loved ones

Finding long-term care for a loved one can be overwhelming. You want them to be safe, happy, and well cared for, but what kind of care community do they need? Skilled nursing and memory care facilities do cover similar care needs. Still, the focus and scope of care are different, so it’s essential to know the difference between each community.


Let’s start with similarities

Skilled Nursing Facilities (also known as SNF) and memory care communities provide 24-hour caregiving with meals, housekeeping, social activities, and help with daily tasks. They both typically coordinate care with physical rehabilitation and sometimes have in-house therapists who come to the patient’s room.


The differences: Skilled Nursing 

If a patient does not require hospitalization but cannot care for themself, a physician may order a stay in a skilled nursing facility where they can receive additional therapies. Due to health complications, patients may be confined to a bed or a wheelchair or have medical issues requiring a healthcare professional instead of an aide. Skilled nursing patients may be in residence on a long or short-term stay, depending on their condition. Many eventually move to a nursing home because they need less medical attention or return home for the duration of their recovery.

Medicare provides good short-term coverage for patients in skilled nursing who have transitioned from a hospital stay, but not for those admitted otherwise or those who choose to stay when their coverage ends.


The differences: Memory Care

Memory care programs are designed specifically for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. They have a smaller staff-to-patient ratio to provide personalized care for each resident. Residents may have various healthcare needs which are taken care of; however, the focus is on retaining memories and skills as long as possible throughout their disease. You might find a memory care wing within an assisted living community, though some communities exclusively cater to memory care residents.

Within a memory care setting, you’ll find therapeutic activities specific to memory enhancement and designed to alleviate confusion. For example, a memory care community might be designed with a circular corridor to reduce frustration for wandering patients and might color code areas of the building to help residents orient themselves indoors and locate their rooms. Recognizable decorations in memory care communities help residents identify their home, and communities often use specialized lighting to help regulate circadian rhythms for residents with sleep disruption.

Security and safety are high priorities for memory care communities, which may not be the case for skilled nursing facilities. Because wandering is common among those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there should be an emphasis on securing indoor areas and enclosed courtyards for outdoor enjoyment. Round-the-clock supervision is essential for safety. Private rooms should have security alerts or a system in place for residents who might fall or need help inside their rooms.

Activities in a memory care community can include art therapy, music therapy, sensory exercises, and pet therapy. These are generally more helpful to those experiencing memory loss than other typical senior living activities. For example, a person with memory loss might not enjoy a film with others but could benefit from a box of objects to explore that trigger memories of an earlier time.

Memory care communities will often keep dining to smaller groups of people to help prevent confusion. Their dining areas might also include special features like aquariums, which are believed to calm diners and encourage eating. When visiting, ask what they do to alleviate agitation, which can be common for dementia residents in the evening hours.

When considering a memory care community, it’s recommended to check for staff certification. Are they truly specialized in memory care? It’s important to note that while Medicaid does not cover memory care, some communities like Avalon Memory Care can accept long-term care insurance. Check with¬†¬†for information on ways to get help covering the cost of long-term care.


Why Avalon Memory Care

At Avalon Memory Care, not only is our staff certified and specialized in the most up-to-date methods of caring for those with memory loss, but we do so with patience, compassion and pure joy. Our comprehensive philosophy of care means that we attend to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of each resident. We want to ensure families that we will help their loved one achieve full quality of life potential with individualized daily routines. The combination of environment, customized care, and our loving approach allow our residents to bond with their care team, giving you, their loved ones, peace of mind. If you have questions about memory care or would like to visit our community, give Holly Bagwell a call at (469) 693-9543. We would love to show you around.



By |2021-09-02T08:57:34-05:00September 2nd, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments