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Differentiating Between a Memory Care Community and a Nursing Home for Dementia Patients

Senior living resident smiling

If you have a loved one who’s struggling with symptoms of memory loss, you may be wondering what kind of help is available and where to get it. Like many people, you might have tried to search for nursing homes for dementia patients. Looking at nursing homes can be a good start, but they may not provide you or your loved one the type of care you’re looking for, especially if what you’re really looking for is a community that specializes in memory care. To fine-tune your search and help you get the needed support, here’s a primer on the differences between memory care communities and nursing homes for dementia patients.

Defining Important Terminology

The phrase “nursing home” is used by some  as a general term for senior living communities. However, senior living communities include a range of options that might include independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation and memory care. Nursing homes, on the other hand, provide a more specific kind of care: ongoing, round-the-clock medical supervision for an extended period of time.

A memory care community offers specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Staff members are specially trained to support memory care residents, prioritizing safety and creating routines and structure that can help allay the anxiety that often arises with dementia. Therapies designed to delay the progression of dementia are often incorporated into daily activities.

Noting the Similarities

Both nursing homes and memory care communities typically strive to provide compassionate care aimed at meeting residents’ individual needs. In both communities:

  • Residents are given more support than can typically be offered at home.
  • Regular meals, assistance with daily activities such as dressing, bathing and taking medications are provided.
  • Enriching activities and social events invite residents to remain actively engaged.

Identifying the Differences

A nursing home serves the primary purpose of meeting residents’ medical needs. Patients with memory loss might need to move to a nursing home —  and they may receive excellent care — but the focus of that care is the resident’s medical condition rather than their memory loss.

In a memory care community, the focus is exclusively on providing person-centered support to people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and memory loss. Rather than the medical expertise that nursing homes provide, memory care communities excel at creating a comforting, life-enhancing environment for people with memory loss, incorporating simplified design elements to minimize confusion and activities that are geared toward memory support. This highly customized approach available in a memory care community simply isn’t realistic, or even possible, at the majority of nursing homes.

Find the Support You’re Looking for at Monticello West

If your focus has shifted from searching for a nursing home for dementia patients to seeking out specialized dementia care for your loved one, consider looking into memory care services at Monticello West. Our Dallas, Texas, community has been selected as a 2022 Best of Senior Living award winner from A Place for Mom, Inc. We’re also a  2022 Caring Star recipient for service excellence in senior living by Caring.com. In our memory care neighborhood, we implement Heartfelt Connections —  A Memory Care Program® to get to know our residents — their family, hobbies, likes, dislikes — so we can create a person-centered care plan that supports your loved one’s dignity and sense of purpose. Contact us to find out more about The Garden, the memory care community at Monticello West.