Nursing Home? Rehab? ALF? Memory Care? How to Choose

Memory Care ALF vs. Rehab vs. Nursing Home

Choosing the right facility for a loved one can be a daunting task. Choosing between a nursing home, rehab center, memory care or assisted living facility is a tall order. Oftentimes, the distinction between these levels of care blur. In order to understand your placement options, it is important to understand the different levels of long-term care.

Our elder abuse attorneys explain the differences between a rehabilitation center and a nursing home, as well as a memory care unit and an assisted living facility.

Nursing Homes vs. Rehabs

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide 24/7 nursing care and supervision to residents. This is the highest level long-term care facility available to patients.

Many nursing homes have the word ‘rehab’ in their name. Generally, most nursing homes have two separate wings; long-term care and short-term care (rehab). Long-term care is for residents who do not plan on returning home. Short-term care, or rehab, is for residents who are temporarily recovering from an illness or surgery that plan on going home eventually.

Short term care is aimed at treatment for rehabilitation. For example, if an elderly, independent person falls and breaks their hip, they will likely be admitted to a nursing home for short term rehabilitation.

Long term care means the nursing home is your forever home. This long term placement is reserved for patients with permanent conditions, like dementia, Alzheimer’s or high care needs.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

Assisted living facilities, also known as ALF’s, are a step below a nursing home in terms of care. ALF’s offer a private room, meals, help with medications and varying levels of supervision.

Recently, there has been a proliferation of ‘memory care’ ALF’s, focused on marketing towards residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These ALF memory care units offer more care and supervision than normal assisted living. Many memory care ALF units blur the lines between nursing home care and ALF care.

Unfortunately, despite the clever marketing sales pitch, memory care facilities do not have nearly the staff that a nursing home does. This can lead to all kinds of preventable injury in confused, accident-prone residents.

It is always best to get an outside physician’s opinion on whether a patient is more appropriate for a nursing home or a memory care facility.

Choosing the Right Facility

In order to determine which facility is right for your loved one, get the right care team in place. Be wary of aggressive facility marketers trying to sell you on admitting your loved one. Instead, speak with an outside, unaffiliated doctor and a geriatric care manager who has no relation to any facility.

Be sure to visit each potential facility. Inspect the actual resident rooms and not just the fancy lobby. Ask about the facility’s staff levels, especially at night when confused residents tend to use the restroom on their own.

Interview the caretakers responsible for the day to day supervision of your loved one, and not just the managing director of nursing. If you do not get a good vibe from the caretakers, look elsewhere.

Be Vigilant in Spotting Neglect

Sadly, not everything goes to plan inside long-term care facilities. Avoidable deaths and injuries are a daily reality in many negligent nursing homes and ALF’s.

If you suspect neglect inside a long term care facility, report the incident to the appropriate state agency. Our elder abuse attorneys can help you accomplish this if you need assistance. If you suspect neglect, contact our elder abuse law firm today for your free consultation.

Injuries suggestive of abuse or neglect include falls, bed sores, untreated infection, and wrongful death.

Nursing Home Abuse Infographic

Updated 6-14-2021.

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