The Difference Between Memory Care and Nursing Home Care

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

If you have an aging loved one who requires specialized care due to dementia, you may be confused as to which facility suits him/her the best. The choice usually comes down to memory care or a nursing home - here are the differences between the two.

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Even though both these senior care facilities support aging parents and grandparents with memory loss, they differ in many important ways. so, should you choose memory care or nursing home care for your loved one?

The answer is it depends on the level of medical care and treatments the person needs. Memory care is primarily designed to provide a safe living environment and help with daily living but a nursing home provides a higher level of acute and long-term skilled nursing and medical treatments.

What Is A Memory Care Facility?

Memory care – also known as Alzheimer’s care – is designed to provide 24-hour care for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and any other form of dementia. These facilities offer a unique environment for residents to improve the quality of life of the patient. They take special steps to reduce confusion and prevent wandering in seniors who suffer from dementia.

A memory care facility is a residential space that is designed to cater to the specific needs of seniors suffering from memory loss. There are key features that make these facilities different from nursing homes and other types of senior care facilities.

Here are some of the key features to expect from a memory care facility:

  • 24-hour care and supervision
  • Memory enhancing activities including art therapy, sensory stimulation, aromatherapy, light therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, reminiscence therapy, and more
  • Housekeeping
  • Medication management
  • Toileting and incontinence care
  • Personal care and assistance
  • Complimentary transportation
  • Laundry
  • Mobility assistance
  • Nutritious meals

The safety of the senior is a key priority of the management of a memory care facility. Most of the memory care facilities are equipped with additional safety features such as locked and alarmed exit doors to prevent wandering of the dementia patient.

Some of the most common design features of a modern memory care facility include:

  • Enclosed gardens & courtyards
  • Color-coded walls
  • Clearly defined shared spaces
  • Keypad entrances for staff members and family
Memory care units provide a safe, secure environment, activities for stimulation and socialization, and assistance with daily care needs.

The Benefits Of A Memory Care Facility

Memory care facilities provide many benefits to seniors who are suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The facility provides a host of meaningful activities to stimulate cognition and improve the quality of life of the patient.

The staff working at a memory care facility are highly skilled and trained to deal with seniors suffering from memory loss. They provide 24-hour supervised care in a highly secure environment.

In the latter stages of the disease, many seniors will have problems in performing simple activities such as bathing, using the toilet, dressing, and more. These people tend to be disoriented and confused most of the time. They may even become aggressive at times and cause various problems to those around them as well as the staff of the facility.

Many memory care facilities are a separate part of an assisted living community. This makes it easier for seniors with dementia to move from assisted living to memory care when the time comes.

That is why you need a highly specialized care facility for seniors suffering from memory loss conditions. Memory care facilities are the best for people with advanced dementia unless they need significant medical care as well.

What Is A Nursing Home?

A nursing home will provide the highest level of care for your aging parent or grandparent outside of a hospital. Nursing homes usually provide custodial care by helping the aging parent or grandparent get in and out of bed, feeding, bathing, dressing, and more.

In fact, a nursing home will provide a high level of medical care compared to other senior care facilities. A licensed physician will supervise the care of each patient while a nurse will be always available on the premises. Seniors will receive skilled nursing care 24 hours a day.

Nursing homes provide two types of care such as short-term and long-term care. Short-term care is ideal for seniors who are recovering from surgery, an acute injury, or an illness.

On the other hand, long-term care is ideal for seniors with terminal illnesses, cognitive disorders, and chronic conditions. A senior may qualify for nursing home care under the following circumstances:

  • He or she needs rehabilitative services
  • He or she requires continuous supervision
  • The patient needs assistance managing health conditions or medications
  • He or she needs assistance with daily activities such as bathing, using the toilet, dressing, and more
blankets for nursing homes
Nursing homes are better equipped to provide more advanced medical care, monitoring, and observation.

Benefits Of A Nursing Home

There are many benefits of a nursing home for your aging parent or grandparent. Here are some of the many benefits offered by nursing homes:

  • Healthcare services
  • Assistance with day to day living
  • Social engagement
  • Safety
  • Housekeeping
  • Regular mealtimes
  • Access to technological resources
  • Specialized medical services for residents with complex medical conditions

The Cost Of Memory Care And Nursing Home

Many factors can affect the cost of nursing homes and memory care. The location of the facility, whether the space is shared, the type of services provided, and other factors can affect the cost of these two facilities.

Nursing Home Cost – The median monthly cost of a private nursing home room in the United States is $8,821 while a semi-private nursing home room will cost around $7,756/month.

Memory Care Cost – The median monthly cost of memory care in the United States is $5,250. But there are many factors that can affect this cost. In fact, you should expect to pay between $3,000 to $7,000 or more per month for memory care.


How To Decide Between Memory Care And A Nursing Home?

Memory care is a specialized facility for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Seniors with advanced dementia and memory loss should opt for memory care instead of a nursing home. The advanced safety features and memory-enhancing activities provided by the facility will help your senior a lot.

On the other hand, if your aging parent or grandparent is having serious medical needs that require 24-hour medical supervision, he or she will benefit from a nursing home. These facilities provide skilled nursing care and rehabilitative therapies.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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1 thought on “The Difference Between Memory Care and Nursing Home Care”

  1. You have done a GREAT JOB in compiling all this information which certainly should be valuable to individuals attempting to place their seniors– parents or grand parents. I have printed off your wheelchair recommendations. My wife has been in a nursing home for over seven months. She can’t walk. Our family wants her home as does she so we are interested in wheel chair prices and where to purchase one. We live in Illinois. Can you recommend an ethical and competent sales company anywhere in Illinois. Probably best, Chicago and its suburbs.

    Thank you. God bless you in your work.

    Dick Volker

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