What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes?

What's the Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living?

What Type of Facility is Best: Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?

It’s a question that many people find themselves facing as they try to find the best possible environment and care either for their aging parents, or for themselves. Is it preferable to move into an assisted living facility or to move into a nursing home? What are the differences between the two, and how can one determine which option is right for them or their parents? Comparing and contrasting the various services provided by and costs of assisted living and nursing homes can help you decide which is the best possible choice.

Comparing and Contrasting Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

First, it is important to note that the choice to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home is ultimately dependent upon what level of supervision and medical care is needed. Assisted living is one of the most popular long-term care options for senior citizens as it provides a basic level of care for seniors who are largely able to manage on their own, yet still require some monitoring and assistance. Assisted living facilities are not, of course, a one-size-fits-all deal, yet there are certain basic services offered in most assisted living options that include meals, social activities, and assistance with daily activities such as bathing, cooking, dressing, transportation and housekeeping. The main goal of assisted living is to provide an active social environment to prevent isolation and inactivity. Assisted living is therefore a wonderful option for seniors who are still able to manage most tasks on their own, but require a little extra help.

Nursing homes, on the other hand, deliver skilled nursing care for those seniors who require greater supervision and dedicated medical attention, as well as experience more difficulty coping with daily activities. Nursing homes are therefore a viable option for those who do not need to be in a hospital, but require a level of supervision and medical care that cannot be provided at home. Nursing homes also offer activities for residents that are both physical and social, much like assisted living facilities, in order to provide an engaging environment for seniors that encourages healthy social interaction. They are thus a nice alternative to hospital stays or in-home care, which can be isolating for many people. Nursing homes can also provide short-term and long-term care. Short-term stays are usually for those who have been hospitalized for an injury or illness and require supervision during their recovery, while long-term care is necessary for those seniors who require daily assistance and medical aid. These facilities are regulated by the Department of Health and often have a licensed physician or nurse on hand as well as occupational therapists and sophisticated medical equipment to cater to residents’ more demanding medical needs.

Cost of Care

At the end of the day, the decision to move into any kind of facility should take into account one’s personal needs and finances. Costs of care tend to vary depending on the residence, apartment size, and required services. Most assisted living facilities charge on a month-to-month basis, but some may require long-term financial arrangements, so be sure to ask what services are included in the basic rate, and what services may cost extra. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), the average monthly cost for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility is about $3,022 per month. Nursing homes are generally more costly given the level of specialized care. The average rate for a private room in a nursing home is about $6,965 per month, while a semi-private room costs about $6,235 per month. This can seem expensive and overwhelming, but there are many resources available that will help with covering costs.

Medicare and Medicaid, as well as various housing and veterans’ subsidies can provide assistance with covering senior housing costs, so be sure to do some research into whether these programs might be able to provide any financial aid. ALFA and LongTermCare.gov both provide resources on assessing short- and long-term costs as well as information on finding financial aid through these various programs. Be sure to check out ALFA’s directory, which searches for various types of senior care facilities by city, state, and zip code.

Further Resources

http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Assessing_Cost.asp

http://longtermcare.gov/costs-how-to-pay/costs-of-care/

http://directory.alfa.org/

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About Senior Path:
We are a professional, senior housing advisory service which provides personal attention to Seniors and their families. We employ a staff of talented, caring Advisors who have vast experience helping Seniors and their families through this transition. Our Advisors have extensive backgrounds in the Senior Care industry enabling them to understand what Seniors want and need.