What is the Difference Between an Assisted Living Facility and a Nursing Home?

As we age, the likelihood of requiring long-term care increases, with the U.S. Administration on Aging reporting a 70 percent chance for people aged 65 and older to need these types of services at some point in their lives.

The prospect of long-term care prompts the consideration of various senior living and care communities. Usually, it comes down to making a choice between a nursing home and an assisted living facility. Many people assume these things are the same thing, but they’re actually quite different.

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Assisted living and nursing homes serve as two options for people who are seeking long-term care. Being able to discern between them is super important if you’re trying to make an informed decision for a loved one. In this article, we’ll be discussing the main distinctions between these types of communities. This should help to give you some guidance as you’re making your choice, so stick around!

Before we dive in, you should keep in mind that understanding the nuances between assisted living and nursing homes is going to be very important when it comes to making this decision. By exploring what each type of community and facility has to offer, you’ll be able to determine which environment will best suit the needs of your loved one (or your own needs, if you’re picking out a care facility for yourself). Without further ado, let’s get into it!

What is an Assisted Living Facility?

Assisted living communities are designed to support people with different levels of ability. In a nutshell, they’re meant to nurture and encourage independence. In contrast, nursing homes are specifically designed to meet the needs of people with complex and demanding health issues.

These health issues often include conditions like dementia or severe mobility impairments. Most of the health issues that people in nursing homes live with make independence quite challenging if not downright impossible. The main focus in nursing homes is on addressing medical needs — including medication administration, monitoring chronic conditions, and providing support for people who are bedridden.

For older adults who have maintained sharp minds and a strong desire to live life autonomously, an assisted living facility will typically be the ideal choice. Assisted living communities emphasize the importance of regaining independence while also supporting residents with things like bathing and getting dressed.

The scope of support extends beyond health and safety, though — it also includes having the residents take part in meaningful activities. There’s also a focus on building and maintaining relationships, which tends to be difficult for many senior citizens. If you have concerns about your loved one living alone, asking them if they would be willing to move into an assisted living facility can provide you with significant peace of mind.

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What is a Nursing Home?

Let’s talk about nursing homes in a bit more detail. Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, offer plenty of health and personal care services — especially for senior citizens. Their focus is more on medical care compared to many assisted living facilities or board and care homes.

The services provided in a nursing home typically include nursing care, 24-hour supervision, three daily meals, and assistance with everyday activities. Additionally, rehabilitation services — like physical, occupational, and speech therapy — are available to those who need it.

Most of the time, residents will be responsible for covering the costs of nursing home care. Long-term stays in a nursing home are generally not covered by Medicare, but it may help with some associated expenses, such as doctor’s visits and medical supplies.

Medicaid is another option that may cover some nursing home costs for those who are eligible, but as you may know, this is based on your income and personal resources. If you or your loved one has long-term care insurance, it might include some coverage for nursing home care — though, it can’t hurt to check with your insurance company for specific details.

Why Might Someone Move into a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?

At times, an elderly person may find it challenging to live safely or comfortably in their own home. While some may move in with family or friends, others will require more assistance than a family member or friend can provide them with. In such cases, they might consider moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Both assisted living facilities and nursing homes are equipped to provide any long-term care services that an older person may need. While some facilities focus more on offering housing and housekeeping, many go beyond that, and provide personal care, social and recreational activities, meals, and medical services.

Certain facilities have specialized programs that cater to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Make sure to set up a consultation with any assisted living facility or nursing home that you may be considering moving your loved one into. This is the best way to ensure that your loved one will receive the best care possible.

Why Choose an Assisted Living Facility?

Why consider assisted living? When you need extra support, staying at home can be stressful, requiring you to explore care options and potentially rely on family members. For many older adults, transitioning to a lively community can lead to a happier, more engaged, and more independent lifestyle. Let’s break it down below, shall we?

Daily Support

Assisted living comes with several benefits, including daily support with activities like bathing, dressing, and medication management. This assistance not only helps you feel safer and less alone but also promotes independence. It can ease family concerns about you living alone, reduce the risk of falls, and provide you with the support you need instead of leaving you to struggle on your own.

Keep Your Mind and Body Active

Another advantage is the meaningful programming offered to keep your body and mind active and healthy. Engaging in activities like walking, socializing with friends, and attending community programs contributes to your daily exercise goals, and keeps you healthy. Physical activity also lowers the risk of chronic health issues and improves sleep while reducing anxiety and depression.

Plenty of Socialization

Assisted living also keeps residents active through daily socialization with neighbors and engaging community programs. Exercising your mind can delay age-related declines and potentially prevent dementia. Living in a community of active seniors makes it easy to form new friendships, reducing the isolation that many seniors feel at home and improving overall well-being.

Privacy and Independence

Privacy and independence are not sacrificed in assisted living. Many seniors find that the right community actually enhances independence by eliminating the need to rely on children and family. It provides only the necessary support while respecting your privacy and allowing you to chart your own course.

Support for Caregivers

Assisted living also offers caregiver support. Family members supporting an aging adult may experience burnout, conflicts over support decisions, and fatigue. The right community provides support to caregivers and helps restore balance to family relationships.

Why Choose a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes prioritize keeping residents safe and secure. Skilled nursing facilities have secure entrances, surveillance systems, and trained staff following strict safety protocols. These features are designed to ensure that your loved ones are in a protected environment, surrounded by professionals who are experienced in handling emergencies.

Choosing a reputable nursing home provides peace of mind — you’ll know, for sure, that your parent or grandparent is safe and secure. Nursing homes provide 24/7 care and support, which is a significant advantage. Skilled nursing facilities have dedicated healthcare teams that are able to offer personalized care based on the specific needs of each resident.

From daily activities to medication management and specialized therapies, nursing homes offer comprehensive care that may be challenging to replicate at home. This continuous support will ensure that your loved ones are receiving the attention and medical supervision they need at all times.

Contrary to common beliefs, nursing homes actually aim to improve residents’ quality of life. They create an engaging environment with life-enrichment activities, events, games, and social gatherings.

These opportunities allow seniors to stay mentally, socially, and physically active. Reputable nursing homes focus on person-centered care, and align certain activities with residents’ hobbies and preferences. Being part of an active community allows seniors to make new friends. It helps them regain not only a sense of community, but their quality of life.

The Bottom Line

In the grand scheme of things, assisted living facilities and nursing homes are quite similar. It’s easy to see why people get confused when making the decision between moving their loved one into either an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you and your loved one(s). Just remember that assisted living facilities put more of an emphasis on independence, while nursing homes may be the ideal option for people with severe Alzheimer’s or Dementia who are truly unable to take care of themselves on their own.

Once again, it’s important that you talk with whoever is in charge at these facilities and get a good feel for the place before moving your loved one in for the long haul. If you or a loved one has been injured due to nursing home abuse or at an assisted living facility contact the attorneys at Duffy & Duffy today.