Assisted Living or Memory Care - Which One is Right For Your Loved One?

When an elderly loved one needs to find a senior care community—it can be an overwhelming experience for the entire family. There are so many different options available and types of senior care communities that choosing the best option can seem nearly impossible. One of the biggest questions that families have regarding senior care is whether or not their loved one should be in a traditional assisted living and long-term care community or if they need to go to memory care.

With more seniors than ever dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, memory care has become a popular solution for many elderly adults. While there are assisted living communities that also have memory care units in them, there is a difference between the two types of communities.

Memory Care Vs. Assisted Living

When you have your loved one go to a memory care community, you are taking them to a place that specifically caters to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other types of memory issues. They are going to have a more immersive experience in this type of care facility than with simply going to a special floor in an assisted living community. There are going to be more staff members who specialize in memory care available, and your loved one will have a larger community of residents to socialize and interact with.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are treatments for Alzheimer’s that can help slow down the progression of this disease and help ensure a better quality of life during this difficult time. Memory care units can help make sure that your loved one is getting these types of treatment and the mental stimulation they need to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

While both types of communities will be able to look after your loved one and their needs,memory care is simply more specialized and focused on memory issues. Many seniors who are already living in assisted living communities and start to develop memory issues will move first to a memory care floor in their existing home. Over time, as their dementia progresses, they may then decide to move to a new memory care community.

Finding a Memory Care Community for Your Loved One

Families who are trying to help their loved one find a memory care community to call their own, should make sure they have a memory care checklist of things that are important during their loved one’s care experience. This includes community amenities such as security services, physical therapy programs, medication management and social activities. These are all important things that can make or break a senior’s memory care experience.

Typically, communities that are entirely dedicated to memory care are going to have more amenities focused specifically on the needs of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This may include things like special layouts that prevent wandering.

What is most important, however, whether you choose memory care or a traditional assisted living community—is that you find a place that you and your family are comfortable with. The more comfortable you are with your senior loved one’s new home, the better off everyone will be with this experience. While making decisions about memory care can be difficult, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one is getting the care they deserve during this difficult time in their life.

To find senior care that suits your needs complete this form so we can connect you with the best care. Take a look at Nursing Home Ratings nationwide. 

Illinois Nursing Home Workers Fighting for $15 an hour Wage

Nursing home daily rates are usually above $100 per day and can be higher than $400 per day, as the Caregiverlist Nursing Home Costs directory shows. Many Illinois nursing homes charge more than $300 per day for a private room and the median cost for a single room is $208 per day. Studies show that nursing home workers are among the most underpaid working women and men in the country with 1 in 3 nursing assistants relying on public assistance for some of their family's living needs.

Chicago Illinois nursing home workers participated in rallies on Thursday, April 14, 2017, to showcase their need for a higher hourly pay rate, seeking $15 per hour. Politicians, including two high-profile Democratic candidates for governor, Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker, joined the rallies.

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The Paraprofessional Health Institute reports in their research that nursing assistants and workers providing laundry, food and housekeeping services are underpaid, often viewed "as a cost to be managed rather than an asset to invest." Keeping the wage floor low leads to 50% of nursing home workers leaving their positions each year and adds to the dramatically growing gap in available trained long-term care providers.

Nursing homes employ Certified Nursing Assistants (C.N.A.'s) who must meet minimum training requirements and pass a state certification exam to care for residents.

  • 91% of Nursing Assistants are Women
  • 1 in 3 C.N.A.'s rely on taxpayer-funded public benefits such as food stamps, energy assistance or Medicaid
  • Insufficient staffing levels contribute to high injury rates and high turnover
  • The average turnover for nursing assistants exceeded 50% in 2012
  • More than 1.3 million older Americans and people with disabilities currently reside in nursing homes
  • 10,000 Americans turn age 65 daily and the number of older Americans age 85+ will triple by 2050
How difficult would it be for a nursing home to pay more? Medicaid, the government program for low-income seniors, reimburses nursing homes for their fees for seniors on Medicaid. Medicare, for all seniors age 65 and over, pays for up-to-100 days in a nursing home. Others must private pay for the rooms. Review the cost of nursing homes near you. 

C.N.A.'s continue to be in demand and can always find local hospitals, nursing homes, and senior care companies hiring. Learn more about caregiver and C.N.A. jobs and training near you and submit a job application to be considered for openings. Caregivers may provide one-on-one care in the home for a senior and gain skills with an online caregiver training course. C.N.A.'s working in nursing homes may care for as many as 12 or more residents.

Paycheck-to-Paycheck HBO Documentary Profile a Certified Nursing Aide Employee

Certified Nursing Aides are the backbone of caregiving in nursing homes and other senior care facilities.  But their pay continues to be the lowest for any nursing home employee.  Maria Shriver and Oprah Winfrey are showcasing the issue of low pay in the HBO Documentary titled "Paycheck to Paycheck:  The Life and Times..."

In this documentary, Certified Nursing Aide Katrina Gilbert is followed as she juggles a full-time "back-breaking job" and raises 3 children as a single Mom.  Daily work as a C.N.A. requires constant movement and assisting seniors with meals, bathing and activities.  While working as a nursing aide requires professional training, once the job begins, the nursing aide is in the lowest paying position at a senior care facility and often works on holidays and picks up extra schedules.  Katrina's pay is $9.54 per hour and she did receive a pay increase of .14 cents per hours, the documentary notes at the end.

Caregivers providing one-on-one care in a home average $10 per hour pay and above and have the advantage of working with just one senior.  Nursing homes may provide more benefits as they may be part of a larger corporation, but not always.

Learn how to become a senior caregiver and for those seeking to become a C.N.A., remember that this is the first step in becoming a L.P.N. or R.N.






Nursing Home Dental Care May Be Lacking Report Shows

Nursing homes care for senior residents who have a wide variety of care needs.  However, the level of staffing of Certified Nursing Aides to the number of senior residents they are caring for directly impacts the quality of care. You can review the C.N.A. to resident staffing levels in Caregiverlist's easy-to-use Nursing Home Star-Ratings directory.

Dental care for nursing home residents can impact their overall health.  This sort of makes sense, because everything needs more attention as we age and our new cells stop regenerating quickly to replace the old cells. And now we have a little research to back this up.

This means a new question to ask nursing homes when you are considering moving a senior into one for rehabilitation, should be:  "how often do you assist residents to brush their teeth?  And, "what do you do if they are resistance to dental care?"

A survey by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors says seven states have evaluated nursing home residents since 2011.  The findings show that there may be a growing epidemic in cavities, cracked teeth and gum disease in nursing home residents due to a lack of oral hygiene.

The association report gives the example of Kansas state, where nearly 30% of 540 older residents in 20 long-term-care facilities (that means nursing homes), had substantial oral debris on at least 2/3rds of their teeth and that regular oral care had become scarce.  

In Wisconsin, the report shows that about 31% of 1,100 nursing home residents from 24 different homes had teeth broken to the gums with visible roots, while about 35% had substantial oral debris.

Nursing home care includes dental care and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 requires brushing the teeth of nursing home residents who cannot do it themselves.  However, this is easier said than done.  As Certified Nursing Aides, or C.N.A.'s, know, if a senior is resistant to assistance, it can be very difficult to brush their teeth for them.  C.N.A.'s are required by law to be staffed at nursing homes to assist with the daily hands-on care.  

Seniors who have neglected their dental care for years prior to be admitted to a nursing home present an additional challenge.  Medicare does not pay for routine dental care.  Perhaps new technology can assist with finding a better way to assist C.N.A.'s to perform dental care in nursing homes.  The family members of seniors should be aware that they may have to step in to assist if the senior does not want to cooperate with the brushing of teeth and oral hygiene.

As assisting senior can be a challenging job, although always fulfilling, there is an ongoing demand for more Certified Nursing Aides - apply for a companion caregiving job in your area (Part-time and Full-time positions are available) and learn about becoming a C.N.A.


Senior Care Planning: Living to be 105-Years-Old

Senior care costs vary widely, based on the care needs required for the senior and the living situation.  Does the senior live in a home that has been paid for fully and receive social security benefits?  If so, they can better pay privately for caregiving services.  If the senior does not own a home and requires full 24-hour caregiving services, they may qualify for Medicaid benefits, for very low-income seniors, and receive care in a Medicaid nursing home.  This is the safety net for all Americans currently.  However, as nursing home daily costs can vary from $100 to $400 per day, even the Medicaid senior care services are predicted to evolve as the number of seniors will quadruple in the coming decade.

Plan ahead for your own senior care needs to smooth the path for your family.  Remember, life expectancy of a child born in the U.S.A. today is 100 years.  Remember also that how you live your life today - eating right, exercising and finding a fulfilling life purpose, all impact the quality of your health as you age.  Nursing homes are often an extension of a hospital stay for seniors who may need rehabilitation and Caregiverlist's nursing home directory provides the daily cost of nursing homes nationwide.

Happy Birthday to this 105-year old senior who shared her photo with us celebrating her birthday at 105 with her great-granddaughter celebrating her 5-year-old brithday:  Birthday twins at 5 and 105!

Caregivers - let us know how old your senior clients are and if you can top age 105 - photos are welcome.  Enjoying sharing special life moments are another of advantage of working as a senior caregiver.

Nursing Home Costs Nationwide: Review Daily Costs of Nursing Homes

Senior care costs are an item that many of us do not plan ahead for - we just hope that it will never be a need.  However, the reality is that all of us should plan for needing senior care services for at least 2 years of our lives.  

Medicare, the health insurance program for all American seniors, does not pay for long-term care.  In the event a senior should "spend-down" all of their assets, they may qualify for Medicaid, a version of Medicare insurance for very low-income seniors with few assets.  Each state administers Medicaid benefits in conjunction with federal funding, which means the financial spend-down requirement varies in each state and you may view these financial requirements on Caregiverlist.

Medicaid financial qualification requirements in most states must be no more than $2,000 in assets for a single senior and $3,000 in assets for a couple.  There is an anti-spousal poverty provision that will allow one spouse to maintain more assets while the other spends down to qualify for Medicaid benefits.  This can especially be needed if one senior has memory loss or another age-related illness which requires years of caregiving services.

Nursing homes are often an extension of a hospital stay as Medicare will pay for rehabilitation services in a nursing home after a hospital stay.  However, Medicare does not pay for 100% of all the costs of a nursing home and only pays for the first 20 days of the daily fee (remember, some activities and hair care and other services cost extra) and then from days 21 to 148 the senior must pay $148 per day.  This means, in some instances, switching to one-on-one care in the home can be more cost effective.

Seniors should investigate nursing homes in their area before they need nursing home care, especially since there is a chance if a sudden medical condition such as a stroke or hip replacement, requires rehabilitation, the hospital may do a quick discharge to a nursing home in the area.  You may also receive information from licensed senior home care agencies.

Nursing home costs range from $100 to $400 or more per day.  You may review the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide in Caregiverlist's Nursing Home Directory to plan ahead for your senior care needs.



Nursing Homes Disaster Preparedness Plans Show Gaps

Senior safety during natural disasters is a topic we’ve blogged about before. Our elderly population is especially vulnerable during these times of high stress. A recently-released government report shows emergency plans in many nursing homes nationwide are distressfully unprepared to guard their senior residents from harm.

Using a sample of nursing homes that experienced floods, hurricanes, and wildfires during 2007–2010, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study to determine the quality of disaster preparedness plans They analyzed national survey data and conducted site visits to 24 selected nursing homes. Investigators interviewed nursing home administrators and staff, local emergency managers, and representatives from State Long Term Care ombudsman programs. What they found was cause for concern.

On paper, most of the nursing home fared well. 92% of the nursing homes met the Federal requirements for written emergency plans and disaster preparedness training. However, their findings also showed that:

  • On average, selected nursing homes’ emergency plans included about half of the CMS-recommended checklist tasks, and none included all of them.
  • Administrators from 17 of the 24 selected nursing homes reported substantial challenges in responding to disasters.
  • LTC ombudsmen were often unable to support nursing home residents during disasters.
The detailed study showed six areas of major concern: staffing; resident care; resident identification, information, and tracking; sheltering in place; evacuation; and communication and collaboration.

Concern over nursing home resident vulnerability came to light especially during Hurricane Katrina, when 35 residents of St. Rita's Nursing Home just outside New Orleans perished in the flooding.

The study includes recommendations to revise the specified requirements for emergency plans to protect residents during and after disasters. However, make sure disaster preparedness is a question on your checklist if you are looking into choosing a nursing home for your loved one.

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Assisted Living: How to Make the Right Choice

 Assisted Living Communities provide a safe environment for aging.  Our Guest Blogger today explains how to choose the right assisted living community.

Top Concerns When Choosing An Assisted Living Residence

According to the Assisted living Federation of America, over one million Americans are currently living in assisted living communities. They offer comfort, privacy and a home inspired atmosphere with the latest amenities. Assisted living residences are great options that combine independence and personal assistance in a residential environment. However, choosing an assisted living residence can be difficult and many individuals have certain concerns that need to be addressed. It is essential to find a residence with the right fit that is tailored to your needs. Choosing an assisted living residence is a big decision. Fortunately, today there are many assisted living options available. You may also want to research the nursing homes available near your assisted living residence, as Medicare does pay for short stays in nursing homes after a hospital stay.

Concerns about if Assisted Living for Me

Trying to decide if assisted living is right for you, is a top concern for many individuals. Assisted living may be for you, according to, if you find yourself tired of maintaining a home, needing more assistance than your family can provide, if you worry about your safety, if transportation is an issue or if you feel isolated. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be a good time to consider if an assisted living residence may be right for you. The questions will also help to decide on the services you need and the facility of your choice should offer. You can get support you need on a daily basis, while remaining completely independent. Tour the facility and weigh their ability to meet your requirements as you consider your options available to you at this exciting time in your life. 

Concerns about Privacy

A major concern when choosing an assisted living residence is privacy. Assisted living will feel just like a private residence. There is total control over the environment in assisted living residences, because a resident can decorate their apartment or room, however they choose. Residents maintain a high level of privacy, as well as independence while still having the assistance of staff to help with any needs. Assisted living has a home like atmosphere along with social interaction. 

Concerns about Safety

Safety is a concern that all individuals looking for an assisted living residence should research carefully. Having a safe and secure environment is a concern that most individuals have when choosing an assisted living residence. A safe, secure and clean environment will guard against accidents and illnesses. To ease concerns always visit facilities to compare the levels of safety and comfort. Other safety concerns might include the experience and qualifications of the staff members. The most important factor when selecting an assisted living residence is that it feels safe, friendly and comfortable. The right residence for you will feel like home.

Concerns about the Costs

When choosing an assisted living residence cost most likely will be a concern. Many individuals shy away from assisted living, because their perception is that the cost is not within their means. Although it is a significant investment, it is possible to find a residence within your budget and not have to compromise on the level of care or services offered. Costs can vary greatly from facility to facility. Remember that the facility that you will be happiest at may not be the most expensive or fancy. Always evaluate the costs and do not assume that just because it is expensive, it is better. Focus on what the facility provides specifically for your needs and wants, and the quality of the staff.

Finding the Best Residence 

A big concern is finding the assisted living facility that is right for you. There are many choices to choose from for those trying to choose an assisted living residence. Therefore, it can be difficult to feel comfortable with your choice. Searching for the right fit is extremely important when choosing an assisted living residence. The goal should be to choose a facility that provides a residential environment that provides independence along with personalized support and offers what is important to you. Taking tours of residences that are under consideration is especially important. Take in the surroundings, the residents and the staff. After the tour if you can imagine being a member of the community and enjoying the services, amenities and socialization that is offered, then you will know it is a good fit and the place for you. 


Author Bio:


Author Bio:

Tom writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and and fantastic assisted living resources.



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Illinois Senator Mark Kirk Suffers Stroke

Strokes are one of the most common age-related illnesses, but they can strike when people are younger.  Today it was announced that Illinois' Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke over the weekend and while at age 52, he was healthy (minus the stress that comes with being a Senator), he was able to have surgery to relieve swelling on his brain.

Senator Kirk's ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that sends blood to the brain gets blocked.  It is the most common type of stroke.  It can result in paralysis suffered on one side of the body.  Senator Kirk is experiencing some movement issues with the left side of his body, including his arm, leg and face.

The State of the Union speech is tonight, and Illinois residents will be without Senator Kirk in the chambers.  He replaced Senator Barack Obama's seat, winning in an election after the former Illinois Governor (who is on his way to prison), first tried to sell the seat.

We wish Senator Kirk well in his recovery.  Many seniors, age 65 and older, who are on Medicare or Medicaid health insurance, are transfered from a hospital to a nursing home for recovery rehabilitation after a stroke.  You can view nursing home costs and quality ratings on Caregiverlist.




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Find Senior Care Costs

Costs of senior care vary widely, based on the location of the care and the type of care.  The first steps are to find out if the senior will continue on Medicare or need to switch to Medicaid.  Here are some guidelines and tools for finding senior care costs to enable family caregivers to plan ahead.

Medicare:  senior care health insurance for all seniors in the U.S.A. unless they have few assets and a low enough income to qualify for Medicaid which then replaces Medicare.  Medicare does NOT pay for long-term senior care, but only for short stays in a nursing home after a hospital stay.  Learn more about Medicare's benefits.

Medicaid:  very low-income seniors may qualify for Medicaid which has more benefits to pay for medications and long-term care, although the choices are limited based on Medicaid providers.  Medicaid is funded by both the state and federal government and because of this, each state's Medicaid qualifications vary slightly.  Caregiverlist provides the "by-state" Medicaid qualifications.  Usually no more than $2,000 in assets are necessary to qualify financially along with a low monthly income.  However, there is a spousal poverty prevention built into Medicaid which will allow for one spouse to maintain the home and car and some assets, while allowing the other spouse to spend-down to qualify for Medicaid.  This is usually necessary when someone has an age-related disease such as Alzheimer's disease and will need long-term care around-the-clock.  Medicaid will pay for nursing home care ongoing.

As all seniors who are not on Medicaid must privately pay for senior care, here are the senior care options:

  • Senior Home Care by Licensed Senior Home Care Agency
  • Assisted Living Community
  • CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community)
  • Nursing Home
  • Supportive Living*

Submit a request for services and rates of senior home care agencies near you to receive a price quote.  It is important to understand that senior home care must be provided by a senior home care agency in order to protect the senior and the family, as the agencies professionally train the caregivers and have all necessary insurances such as worker's compensation insurance, professional liability insurance and provide for payroll taxes.  This insures that the senior and their family are protected from elder abuse and financial fraud.  Many states have passed laws to require professional health care organizations to only refer to licensed senior home care agencies because hire-direct caregivers present opportunities for financial fraud and elder abuse and the elder abuse departments have become so overwhelmed with these cases that they want to educate consumers to stay away from hire-direct senior caregivers.  Senior care can be difficult and professional caregivers have proper training and the support of a care team.  Read more about hire-direct senior care fraud here.

Assisted Living communities vary widely.  Some independent living communities will also provide all the benefits of assisted living.  Reach out to a company like Senior Living Experts who provides Registered Nurses and Social Workers to assist families with understanding the costs and services of assisted living and takes the senior on tours of communities to determine the best solution.

CCRC's, or Continuing Care Retirement Communities require a significant down payment (many times seniors will sell their homes and use the proceeds as the down payment) and then the senior has the advantage of knowing they can stay in the community, transfering from apartment to studio to nursing care room, as needed, and being able to stay even if they should run out of money and go onto Medicaid (full time caregiving can be $80,000 a year).

Nursing homes usually are an extension of a hospital stay.  Find the costs of nursing homes nationwide along with their ratings in Caregiverlist's nursing home directory.

Supportive living communities are available in some areas of the country such as Illinois. Usually there is a financial requirement to qualify and a senior must still be active when they move in.  You can learn about customized senior living programs that have been developed in your area through your Area Agency on Aging, and you can find their contact information for each state nationwide in Caregiverlist's "by-state" directory.




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