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Assisted Living vs Nursing Homes: The Basics

By Ian Klaes

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are common live-in senior care options.  But what is the difference? And which one is better for an aging senior? The decision to move to a nursing home or assisted living facility can be an emotionally and financially difficult decisions for seniors and their families. In this post, we will discuss assisted living vs nursing homes to help you understand the various senior care options in the industry.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities or communities   are ideal for seniors who want to remain active and social but who don’t want to deal with maintaining their own home. They provide living quarters for seniors along with basic amenities.

In these communities, seniors may receive services like meals, transportation, housekeeping, and more. The range of services and amenities vary depending on the facility itself and the pricing structure. Some facilities offer larger apartments for couples, while others have more conservative rooms.

Assisted living facilities have staff to monitor residents and assist them as needed. Seniors can receive minor nursing assistance and be administered medication. However, seniors will not receive 24/7 care and assistance while living in an assisted living community.

Overall, assisted living facilities offer a 93% satisfaction rate among residents, indicating that these communities are a great option for senior care. The average cost of care in an assisted living community is approximately $4,000 per month. This cost is usually paid out-of-pocket, but there is financial assistance available from VA Pensions and long-term care insurance.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes provide round-the-clock skilled care to its residents, making this senior care center option a better fit for people who require constant medical care and attention. Nursing homes provide living arrangements for seniors as their staff monitors health conditions and provides medical assistance for residents with medical conditions — both physical and mental.

Seniors in a nursing home have structured days and offer limited recreational activities. They do include meals, laundry services, health care services, and housekeeping. Just like assisted living facilities, the range of services and amenities vary depending on the facility and the price. However, many seniors don’t end up staying in nursing homes for very long. Many seniors only stay in a nursing home for a few months as they receive rehabilitative care after a fall, stroke, heart attack, etc.

Because a nursing home must offer medical care around the clock, it should be no surprise that it is more expensive than an assisted living facility. The average cost of nursing home care is around $7,500 per month. These costs are primarily covered by Medicaid.

In the next sections, we will dive deeper into the nursing homes vs assisted living debate and give you our answer.

Why Nursing Home?

Families may opt for a nursing home for a loved one that requires constant assistance with tasks of daily living. Staff members in nursing homes can administer medication and provide skilled nursing assistance, so seniors with medical conditions or those who are at higher risk of complications may benefit from the additional services.

Additionally, a nursing home offers many amenities to help seniors maintain their quality of life. They will have access to personal care, meals, laundry, housekeeping, and constant supervision that ensures they will be taken care of and safe.

Ultimately, a nursing home could be a good fit for seniors who:

  • Require extensive personal care
  • Are not mobile without assistance
  • Require daily medical care
  • Have severe cognitive impairments
  • Are resistant to assistance or have other behavioral problems

Why Assisted Living?

Families may choose an assisted living facility over a nursing home if a senior only requires minor medical attention and basic assistance with daily tasks. Assisted living facilities offer a wide range of activities and social interactions that can benefit seniors who want to maintain their social life.

These facilities also offer a space that feels more like home than a nursing home. Therefore, seniors who still have their cognitive abilities and desire to maintain some freedom would benefit from a room with a kitchenette or private bathroom.

An assisted living facility may be the best fit for seniors that:

  • Require some personal care
  • Can walk or are ambulatory
  • Are receptive to assistance

As you can see, the decision between a nursing home and assisted living community depends on the unique circumstances of each individual. It’s between a senior, their family members, and their healthcare providers to determine which option is the best fit.

Other Senior Care Options

While we have discussed assisted living communities and nursing homes, you should know that those aren’t the only senior care options. Seniors can also consider in-home care, including home health care and non-medical care. Both of these types of care occur in a senior’s home so that they don’t have to move into a nursing home or assisted living community.

Home health care involves nurses and therapists coming to a senior’s home to provide medical care and assistance, like administering medications or changing wound dressings. Non-medical care, on the other hand, focuses on assisting seniors with the tasks of daily living, like grooming or preparing meals. These services typically charge per hour and can be significantly cheaper per month when compared to live-in facilities. Often, these services complement each other as a senior can receive both home health care and non-medical home care to maintain their quality of life.

In-home care is a great alternative for seniors who want to age in the comfort of their own homes. Home offers comforts and familiarity that live-in communities just can’t offer. Plus, seniors can receive as much or as little care as they need.

Caring Senior Service

Caring Senior Service is proud to offer non-medical home care to help seniors remain happy, healthy, and at home. We have been providing quality care to seniors for over 25 years. We’ve also developed a proven method to ensure that each client receives the care they deserve: GreatCare. Our GreatCare method relies on quality caregivers, care solutions, and active involvement to address the 3 most important areas of concern to seniors and their families.

Additionally, we offer the opportunity for individuals in their community to establish their own senior home care business. Our home care franchises can be a great option to help the seniors near you while helping you become a profitable business owner.

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