Though it may be for the best, the transition from independent living to a form of living assistance can be difficult for both seniors and those closest to them. Fortunately, there are many different care options available to seniors who need some level of assistance. Two of the most popular long-term care service options are assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
The decision between a nursing home and an assisted living facility is very personal and should not be taken lightly. This post covers what each option entails, how they differ, and how to decide which may be best for your loved one’s specific needs.
What is Assisted Living?
For individuals looking for a combination of independence and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), assisted living, with its mix of a residential community and moderate support, is a very attractive option. Assisted living facilities are similar to retirement communities. However, they do not provide around-the-clock care but instead focus on providing assistance with daily activities. Also, assisted living facilities often offer residents a variety of recreational activities with the goal of community building rather than providing medical assistance.
What Is A Nursing Home?
With a greater emphasis on providing skilled medical care, nursing homes are a popular choice among seniors seeking healthcare and services beyond assistance with ADL. Nursing homes have the resources to deliver robust medical care through trained on-site medical professionals and constant attention, making them ideal for those who need individualized support. In general, nursing homes do not offer their residents many recreational activities. They aim to promote their patients’ health rather than facilitate socialization within the community.
Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes
There are a few distinctions between assisted living facilities and nursing homes seniors should consider when pursuing long-term care. While both options can provide assistance with basic activities, they contrast in the following categories: living accommodations, meal preparation, and medical care.
- Assisted living facilities provide flexible living situations, often allowing residents to bring their own furniture and even pets.
- Nursing homes offer both single and shared rooms. These facilities do not allow pets and are usually pre-furnished upon move-in.
- Assisted living facilities give their residents the option to eat with other residents or prepare their own meals, if they wish.
- In nursing homes, the staff prepares all meals and delivers these to the residents in their rooms or a common dining room.
- Assisted living facilities offer a range of on-site medical care. However, residents are expected to be relatively self-sufficient. If necessary, the facility can provide a medication management service but usually at an additional cost. As these facilities do not typically have medical professionals on staff, assisted living residences are not considered medical environments.
- Nursing homes are certified medical environments that provide 24/7 care. They monitor and dispense medication, provide mobility and hygiene assistance, and fulfill any other resident healthcare needs.
Senior Care Funding: Exploring Long-Term Care Life Settlements
There are several strategies seniors can adopt to supplement their income and pay for a nursing home or assisted living facility should the need arise.
Today, many insurance and benefits plans are specifically designed to help decrease seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for long-term elderly care. Long-term care life settlements are a financing option that allows policyholders to sell their life insurance policy in exchange for cash. That cash can then be used towards any long-term care option. Seniors can also place these settlement funds in a long-term care (LTC) benefit account. This type of account is similar to a health savings account, which protects the funds and affords the policyholder flexibility should their care needs or costs fluctuate. The money from a long-term care life settlement can be used for residences in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, along with any other form of long-term care such as in-home care and hospice aid.
Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home: Which Option Is the Right Fit?
Now that we have covered the key differences between assisted living facilities and nursing homes, we need to determine which makes the most sense for your loved one’s needs. To do this, consider factors such as lifestyle, medical history, ongoing conditions, and level of independence.
Long-term care aims to ensure each senior is in a situation that promotes their health and happiness. As a general rule, if seniors need more assistance with ADLs and recurring medical care, a nursing home would be a better fit than assisted living. As assisted living facilities tend to be designed for more self-sufficient individuals, a nursing home is better suited to manage personalized care needs. The opposite would be true if the senior is more independent or looking for a moderate level of assistance with ADLs—in which case an assisted living facility would be a better option. No matter each senior’s situation, it is essential to research this topic before making a decision that will have a significant impact on a senior’s quality of life and how best to use their funds. Not all nursing homes and assisted living facilities have the same offerings, so be sure to investigate all of your loved one’s options thoroughly.
As their autonomy begins to wane, many older seniors can go through a period of anxiety and sadness. This life stage is made no less overwhelming by the wide variety of care options on the market, often making it difficult to differentiate among them. We hope that this post helps seniors take the first step towards navigating the differences between two popular options: assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
The aging process can bring health conditions and emotional changes. Taking time to determine which senior care option is right for your loved one can go a long way towards ensuring that this new phase is fulfilling. To learn more about long-term care and retirement financing options, reach out to the professionals at Retirement Genius.