Sometimes the care needs of a loved one are obvious, but figuring out which type of care is right for them is a different story. Which of the many types of care is the right fit? Understanding the differences helps you decide where to start and plan better for the future.
Is it time for assisted living or long term care? Are dad’s memory issues a normal part of aging or a sign it’s time for memory care? What’s the difference between rehabilitation and long term care – isn’t it all just nursing homes anyway?
Take a deep breath. If you’re searching for answers and finding yourself with more questions, you’re in the right place. The variety of options available for senior care fall along a spectrum. From home-based care supporting activities of daily living to specialized memory care ensuring comfort and safety for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
All of these care models can be divided into two groups: skilled care and custodial care. Understanding what skilled care includes (and what custodial care doesn’t) helps you make the right decision. Skilled care includes medically necessary care provided under the supervision of licensed or skilled medical professionals. Physical therapy, catheter management, and wound care are examples of skilled care services.
Custodial care covers non-medical support and care such as bathing, dressing, and household activities like cooking and laundry. When loved ones enter senior care facilities providing long term care, memory care, or rehabilitation services, custodial care is provided alongside skilled medical care.
Assisted living communities and home-based aids provide custodial care support exclusively. If your loved one’s needs go beyond supporting their safety and independence along with ensuring social opportunities in a custodial setting, you’ll want to consider skilled care options.
Many family caregivers find that as loved one’s needs increase over time, providing adequate care (while often balancing caring for children and managing careers) goes beyond their abilities alone. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the time, physical, and emotional demands of caring for aging loved ones – even with skilled care support through home health-based services.
Short-term rehabilitation care.
Regaining independence and returning home as soon as possible are at the heart of short-term rehabilitation care. Whether a loved one experienced an injury, illness, or is recovering from surgery, rehabilitation under medical supervision speeds the process of recovery.
Beginning with a personalized care plan, rehabilitation teams work with residents to determine goals, types of therapies needed, and any additional medical needs. Therapies may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Because families play a critical role in encouraging loved ones in rehabilitation, family engagement and support are encouraged.
As a resident progresses with therapy and prepares to graduate from the program, rehabilitation teams support them and their families in assessing the home and ensuring an accessible and safe environment for their return. This both eases the transition back home and decreases risks for new hospitalizations.
Long term care for seniors.
Whether the transition comes from short-term rehabilitation or it’s simply time for more day-to-day support, long term care facilities provide environments to support dignified aging. Physical and mental well being are supported at long term care facilities. Managing medications, monitoring overall health, and providing nutritional support are the physical well being basics. Providing opportunities to socialize, welcoming visitors, and providing stimulating activities and routines support senior mental health and overall quality of life.
Around-the-clock qualified nursing care is a cornerstone of long term care including considerations for end of life care – from pain management to hospice services. The holistic approach provides respite for family caregivers and a safe environment focused on quality of life for seniors.
The memory care difference.
A growing layer of care within long term care, memory care provides specialized services to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory-related conditions. While memory care isn’t a different level of care, facilities specializing in this layer of care differ in critical ways from other long term care facilities.
Key differences include focus on preserving cognitive function and managing behavioral changes that often accompany memory loss. Memory care facilities encourage social engagement and family visits while ensuring safety and comfort along with monitoring memory decline progression and creating a consistent environment for residents.
Four red flags to consider before you decide.
Facilities range from offering a single service exclusively to providing a range of services all on the same campus. Providing different levels of care on the same campus provides convenience as seniors’ needs change, but the logistics of changing care (like changing from private to semi-private rooms) can feel like a step down for quality of life. When touring facilities, be sure to see the full offering of environments so you don’t find yourself changing not only care services, but campuses, too.
If communication from the care team is slow or lacking, or you aren’t encouraged to visit often and join your loved ones for meals, activities, and special occasions, this is also a red flag. Outside of unusual circumstances (like pandemic precautions), families should always be invited to visit and feel welcome – after all, this is your loved one’s home.
Feeling certain your loved one will be safe and cared for goes beyond the caregiver to resident ratio. If a facility has high rates of infections and deaths, this is a considerable red flag. Ask about their numbers and how they manage infections – from respiratory to urinary tract infections (a sign that incontinent residents aren’t cared for adequately).
While sometimes health conditions may warrant the use of antipsychotic medications, a red flag for families seeking memory care services is heavy reliance on antipsychotic medications for behavior management. These medications reduce cognitive and physical function in residents and can lead to a faster decline in their health.
Skilled care at the Restoracy.
Because senior care needs evolve, the Restoracy offers short-term rehabilitation, long term care, and memory care on each campus. This eases the transition to new levels of care through maintaining the consistency of a home-like setting with a supportive care team. Regardless of the level of care needed, each home is intentionally designed to provide cozy comfort with the highest caregiver to resident ratios in Indiana.
A big fear aging loved ones have when transitioning to a senior care setting is the loss of autonomy. That’s why our small home model of care has residents at its center. From deciding when to wake up to when to engage with physical therapy, residents can go at their own pace and family and friends are always welcome. When it comes to their medical care and needs, outside of changing their primary care physician to our in-house doctor, they’re able to keep the specialists they already work with and love.
We welcome family to visit anytime! And if you’re considering the Restoracy for your loved one, we welcome you to join us for a tour.