Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home: A Guide to Choosing the Right One for Your Loved One

It may reach a time when your aging mom, dad, or senior loved one needs more help than you can handle. Several options exist for long-term specialized care services, including assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

To determine which is best for your scenario, first determine the amount of care required. This article clarifies between assisted living vs. nursing homes, the levels of care they each provide, who they are best suited for, and how to recognize when it’s time to consider one.

What are assisted living communities?

Assisted living communities to offer to help people with everyday life, regular self-care, and medical needs as needed. They range in size from a few dozen to a few hundred elderly adults. They are frequently operated like retirement communities, sometimes with a private room where residents paying can get extra medical assistance. However, they do not usually provide extensive or round-the-clock care.

People in most assisted living facilities like Vivante typically have their own rooms in the senior living residences. They can congregate in common areas for meals or recreation, or if you need, there are private rooms. Most assisted living facilities offer room and board, a licensed nurse, medical management, and housekeeping.

Various facilities provide varying levels of senior care, board, and care homes, medicare advantage, and expertise. They also offer bathing and bathroom assistance as needed, rehabilitation services, and social and recreational activities to promote senior wellness and emergency care. Some facilities even combine with independent living residences to form a residential environment of hybrid communities, allowing you to move more easily from one to the other as needed.

When is it time for your loved one to move to assisted living facilities?

Assisted living comes in various forms designed to help seniors age in place for a more extended period. For some, it’s a long-term way to downsize into a new home. Others see it as a way to maintain independence, even if they require assistance with daily self-care or medication management.

The following are indicators that it may be time to consider the many assisted living communities available:

  • If injuries are becoming more common, you or a loved one are falling or being injured more frequently.
  • Deteriorating conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or macular degeneration
  • Cleanliness: The person has difficulty keeping the house clean or maintaining personal hygiene.
  • Loneliness and depression: You or your loved one are increasingly sad or isolated.
  • Withdrawal: The senior’s participation in people or activities is decreasing.

What is a nursing home?

Nursing homes provide high-level custodial and skilled residential care facilities to seniors with serious medical issues or chronic conditions requiring 24-hour supervision.

In contrast to the apartment-like appearance of an assisted living community, some nursing homes can have an institutional appearance due to the hospital-level care provided.

Nursing home residents are typically divided into two categories: those admitted for short-term rehabilitation following hospitalization and those who are permanent residents with ongoing physical conditions that necessitate 24-hour medical services and supervision.

Nursing homes are an excellent option for seniors who have chronic illnesses or use wheelchairs. They provide the same assistance with daily living as most assisted living homes, but they may also offer the following services:

  • Palliative health care
  • Memory care
  • Assistance with mobility
  • Nutritional assistance
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy

When to switch from assisted living communities to a nursing home with skilled nursing care?

Moving to a nursing home care is a personal decision. For many, it entails a significant loss of independence, which most people understandably oppose.

Many factors influence the decision to move into a nursing home, including emotional readiness, location, services, and price, but it often comes down to safety. Look for the following indicators that it’s time to move on to the next level of personal care:

  • Emotional disorders that are incapacitating or worsening, or a progressive medical condition such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple medical conditions occurring at the same time or conditions worsening
  • Increased number of falls, sprains, chronic injuries, or broken bones
  • Money management issues: money is misplaced, overspent, or finances are overwhelming
  • Difficulty maintaining housekeeping and personal hygiene
  • Mental acuity decline: increased memory loss, confusion, or disorientation
  • Depression is characterized by increased feelings of isolation or withdrawal from people and activities.

The differences and similarities between assisted living and nursing homes

The most significant difference between assisted living and nursing homes is the level of medical and assistive services provided.

Assisted living residents typically require general custodial care (help with cooking, cleaning, and hygiene). In contrast, residents of nursing homes require 24-hour skilled nursing care and medical attention.

How much does it cost for assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities?

The cost of assisted living and nursing homes varies according to location, services provided, and level of care required. Because of the full-time medical care provided, nursing homes can cost nearly twice as much as assisted living facilities.

Families can finance the costs of an assisted living facility with personal funds or long-term care insurance policies. Medicare will pay for a portion of a nursing home costs for up to 100 days, but Medicaid will pay for nursing home expenses as long as eligibility requirements are met and a demonstrated medical need exists. There are also veterans benefits available. Contact your state Medicaid office for more information on eligibility requirements and specific coverage.

Both assisted living and nursing facilities try to keep their senior living residents safe, healthy, and happy by providing comparable supportive services:

  • Help with daily activities
  • Medication management
  • Enrichment and wellness activities
  • Housekeeping, laundry, and transportation
  • Nutritional and balanced meals

Choosing what’s the right fit for you or your senior loved one

It isn’t easy to know when to go from independent living to assisted living or a skilled nursing facility. Understanding your local alternatives is the best place to start.

Assisted living facilities may be suitable if you are in relatively excellent health but want minor nursing assistance or help with certain daily chores. A nursing home may be a better option if your loved one requires 24-hour medical care and basic amenities.

Once you’ve determined the sort of facility you want, check into the possibilities in your region to discover one that matches your budget, satisfies your needs, and offers the services you require.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan