Skilled Nursing vs Memory Care: Must Know Differences

Looking to know the key differences between skilled nursing vs memory care?

If you or a loved one needs specialized long-term care, you may be wondering what the difference is between skilled nursing vs memory care. Both services provide essential support for seniors, but there are distinct differences that can help you make the best decision for your specific situation. Let’s take a look at the key differences between skilled nursing and memory care.

What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing provides around-the-clock, 24/hour medical attention from trained professionals. It is a higher level of care where it requires registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, and social workers to be involved in the plan of care.

The goal of skilled nursing is to help improve your health so you can eventually return home with minimal assistance. It typically includes physical therapy for post-surgery recovery, wound care, medication management, pain management services, and other services related to acute medical needs. Most often, this is a short-term rehab stay that ranges up to 100 days, depending on your insurance. The majority of the stay is covered by the insurance carrier.

Read Next: What Qualifies a Patient for Skilled Nursing Care?

What is Memory Care?

Memory Care is designed specifically to address the needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. A Memory Care community offers 24/7 supervision in a safe environment that helps protect residents from wandering off or engaging in behaviors that could potentially harm themselves or others.

Memory Care communities also provide specialized activities designed to engage residents through their various stages of memory loss while helping them stay socially active and connected with others. These Centers are often designed like neighborhoods with circular pathways that allow the residents to explore safely indoors. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) often have Memory Care Communities since they are designed to meet the needs of all levels of care so you never have to leave their community.

Additionally, Memory Care communities can provide essential support to families by giving them much-needed respite time away from their daily caregiving responsibilities.

When living in a Memory Care Center you can receive rehabilitation from licensed therapists such as Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech Therapy.

Skilled Nursing vs Memory Care

skilled nursing vs memory care - one of the key differences in the layout.  skilled nursing tends to look more like a hospital environment with white bland colors like this hallway shown.
Skilled Nursing vs Memory Care

One of the most significant differences is that a memory care facility is not a covered benefit by Medicare. In basic terms, if you are looking for a long-term stay for memory care – you will be responsible for the bill unless you have state funding.

Medicare covers Part A and Part B services which focus on rehabilitation of the health-related issue (i.e., improving ADL function). Part A would be at a skilled nursing center.

Those that are low-income may qualify for state funding (some states refer to it as Medicaid). You will want to speak to facility’s Business Office to assist you with more information.

Conclusion: Skilled Nursing vs Memory Care

In conclusion, it’s essential to understand the difference between skilled nursing or memory care when making decisions about long-term care for yourself or someone you love.

Skilled nursing focuses on providing comprehensive medical attention with an emphasis on returning home after treatment, while Memory Care provides specialized attention for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in a safe environment where they can remain engaged socially and cognitively supported by staff who understand their unique needs. Understanding these key differences will ensure everyone receives the appropriate level of care they need to live a full life!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between memory care and skilled nursing care?

Memory care is for a long-term chronic condition. The individual either moves in permanently to the facility or a respite situation where they have a resident stay while the caregiver is away. It does not require rehabilitation services. Skilled Nursing, on the other hand, is a short-term stay to help get individuals back to their prior level of function with PT, OT, ST, and nursing care.

At what point do dementia patients need 24 hour care?

Dementia patients that are no longer safe at home, or have minimal support (i.e., live alone) need to contact their primary care physician immediately. Accidents can easily occur, especially when they don’t have 24/hour care

What is the difference between memory care and assisted living?

Assisted Living provides more independence to residents than memory care, with more options. Some residents may even still drive or do most of their own ADLs. Memory Care is a secure facility and the residents are not able to leave due to their dementia.

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