← Back to Blog

What Is the Difference Between a Nursing Home and a Memory Care Community?

Grandad showing her granddaughter memories from past

Discovering a loved one has dementia and can no longer safely live on their own has the potential to create a lot of upheaval. While most of us are familiar with the term nursing home, few of us realize there may be a better option specifically designed to provide Alzheimer’s and dementia care, often called memory care.

If you’re exploring senior living options for a loved one, it can be difficult to understand the difference between memory care communities and nursing homes. This is even more true if your only experience with senior living was decades ago. This article will compare the differences between these two options and show you how to choose the one that’s right for your family member.

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is designed for older adults who need help with most activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating, getting dressed, medication management, mobility and more. They may also have chronic medical conditions that require 24/7 supervision. There are also short-term residents who need rehabilitation or are recovering after a major surgery or illness. Nursing homes may also have additional services that may include:

  • Palliative care
  • Mobility assistance
  • Nutritional services
  • Speech, occupational, physical, respiratory and occupational therapy

What is Memory Care?

Memory care is a unique subset of personal care with smaller staff-to-resident ratios, enhanced security and a lifestyle intended to keep residents engaged while providing them with the highest possible quality of life.

Benefits of Memory Care

Receiving specialized care in an environment designed for those with memory loss can help your loved one live a fuller more engaging life. Some of the benefits of choosing a memory care community include:

Knowledgeable staff: Caregivers undergo extra training to help them meet the unique needs — including aggression, rapid mood swings, confusion, anxiety and restlessness  — of those living with dementia.

Enhanced safety: Memory care communities are designed to feel like home while offering enhanced safety features, like community-wide emergency alert systems and 24-hour security. This helps prevent wandering while also encouraging safe outdoor activities.

Collaborative care: Seniors dealing with memory loss need special care and their needs can change rapidly. The staff at memory care communities work with family members to develop and continually update their loved ones’ care plans.

Specialized activity calendar: Supervised programs and activities — including gardening, cooking, crafting, or attending certain events — can help target specific conditions and promote success and joy in the moment.

Medication reminders: Staff helps with scheduling and coordinating appointments, as well as with medication management.

Personalized menus: Meals can combine foods known to supplement brain health with items that your loved one enjoys so they can get the necessary nutrients.

Social opportunities: Living in a community full of people of similar ages allows for uplifting interactions — especially during activities and meals — where your loved one can share their experiences.

Memory Care Services

The amount and type of care needed depends on each person and the stage of their dementia. In the early stages, some people with dementia can still live somewhat independently. During the middle stages, round-the-clock supervision becomes necessary. In the final stages, care becomes more intensive.

The services, amenities and activities offered at Freedom Village at Brandywine’s memory care include:

  • Personalized memory care, including specialized Alzheimer’s care
  • Help with daily living activities, including dressing, bathing and medication management
  • Dementia-specific programming, including arts and crafts therapy
  • Access to appropriate community amenities such as the salon and barbershop, arts and crafts studio and fitness classes
  • Enjoyable small-cluster group activities
  • Frequent community outings for maximum enrichment
  • All-inclusive monthly fee for care, living and dining costs
  • Maintenance-free residence
  • Inviting, secure places to gather and mingle
  • Personal concierge services
  • Supportive dining environment with personalized assistance
  • Specialized diets and nutrition from a registered dietitian
  • Around-the-clock nursing care
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Housekeeping and flat linen service
  • 24-hour security and in-home emergency response
  • Expanded basic cable
  • Utilities (except phone and internet), Wi-Fi access

Innovative Care for Your Loved One’s Unique Needs

At Freedom Village at Brandywine, our memory care neighborhood features person-centered care that’s customized to your loved one’s unique needs. An important part of our specialized care is an innovative program called Heartfelt CONNECTIONS — A Memory Care Program™. To explore whether our memory care community or even short-term respite care, is right for your loved one, use our Community Assistant chat feature or contact us here.