Nursing Homes and Dementia

Placing a loved one in residential long-term care is somewhat straightforward for a lot of people and seniors as well. There are various forms of senior living and they might seem easy enough to understand on the first impression but choosing when and where to put an elderly loved one is not as easy especially when they have been diagnosed with some form of dementia or memory loss.

Due to the severity of dementia at its later stages, it is almost safe to conclude that if someone has dementia, a nursing home should be considered as a solution at some point. However, it is easy to make the mistake of thinking that efforts in providing long-term care would match up to the demanding needs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease but that is not often the case. 


Below is a comprehensive breakdown of dementia, nursing home care provision, the different types of care homes available, and tips to follow when choosing a special care facility for a loved one.

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Understanding Dementia and Nursing Home Care

Before discussing the issue of nursing homes and dementia, it is wise to have a comprehensive understanding of what nursing home care involves as well as dementia. 

Dementia is a complicated condition that alters cognition, behavior, and memory. As a disorder, it is linked with a decline in quality of life. 14% of people aged 70 and higher are reported to have dementia. 

A time may come when a person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will require more care than can be offered at home especially as the condition progresses through to the later stages when care needs become more urgent and intense. 

This makes the need to move into a residential care facility become almost necessary although a lot of people are not comfortable with the idea of sending a loved one to a nursing home. 

Nursing homes provide long-term care on a frequent basis to the aging population and should not be confused with assisted living or assisted living for people suffering from dementia. 

Interestingly enough, nearly 15% of Americans diagnosed with dementia live in nursing homes and over 50% of nursing home residents have some degree of dementia. It is also estimated that about 70% of Americans suffering from dementia will die in a nursing home. 

Assisted living offers less care as compared to a nursing home and has very different protocols to how practitioners go about their work. Skilled nursing is another field that is often directly associated with nursing homes. While nursing homes provide long-term care, skilled nursing is purposed for short-term care or rehabilitation from an injury. 

Available Housing Options for Patients Struggling with Dementia

Every institution involved in providing residential long-term care has its own protocol that outlines how it goes about providing care to elderly people. These protocols vary with the rules and regulations as per state. 

It is therefore important that you understand the general care provision levels for seniors on the chance that you are considering putting a loved one in a nursing home and you want to find one providing the right level of care as per your loved one’s needs. 

Below is a comprehensive breakdown of dementia, nursing home care provision, memory care and the different types of care homes available, and tips to follow when choosing a special care facility for a loved one.

Nursing Homes

Nursing home facilities provide the highest level of long-term care. Staff members working in these facilities provide round-the-clock care and have various levels of training. This means that there is a differentiation in the medical skills and expertise available and the staff can, therefore, provide assistance with administering injections, medications, as well as any other complex medical functions. 

Nursing homes accommodate patients with dementia who are at the later stages of their disease when they are not able to walk, talk, or eat by themselves.

Assisted Living

Assisted living provides residents with hands-on assistance on activities that involve daily living and many of these institutions provide a wide selection of additional care services at an added cost. However, kindly note that skilled nursing care is not offered. 

Dementia patients in the early to intermediate stages usually spend a bit of time in assisted living institutions because they are allowed to be somewhat independent and their health and safety are catered for. The rooms they stay in are private and the staff is not available 24/7 apart from emergency care staff. 

Nursing homes accommodate patients with dementia who are at the later stages of their disease when they are not able to walk, talk, or eat by themselves.

The aim of memory care facilities is to offer long-term residential care curated for people suffering from intermediate to later phases of dementia. A patient diagnosed with dementia may decide to move to a memory care unit depending on the resources available. 

There are facilities dedicate to providing memory care such as care campuses that offer various levels of care in one area, or an assisted living facility in a secure wing. 

Because they are considered ‘special care units’, staff members working in these facilities are well skilled in caring for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. They are well trained and experienced in communicating with the residents, identifying signs indicating changes in a resident’s psychological behavior, as well as dealing with the difficult behaviors that may come up while administering care and how to deescalate such situations.  

The primary step to choosing the ideal living facility for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia involves doing a needs assessment. Residents in nursing homes in the later phases of dementia are completely functionally dependent, have restricted speech ability speaking no more than 8 words, and are confined to their beds. Offering care to these residents needs skills and knowledge specific to their various medical, physiological, and supportive needs.  

After a needs assessment has been conducted, it is advisable that you conduct a cost assessment so that you can have clear insight as to whether you can afford to pay for the cost of a care home and which care facility is within your budget. Another thing you should look out for is the location of the institution. Is the center close to family or friends and is it easily accessible? 

Another factor that you should consider is the service provided by the facilities as per the needs of your loved one. Are there enough toilets? Are the rooms offered private and how much space do they have? Is the caring staff available 24/7 and how well trained are they? 

These tips should give you thorough insight into whether you should opt for a care facility and which facility you should choose for your loved one.

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