The Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living

Nursing Homes

If you and your family have started to approach the topic of senior care with your elderly relatives, you may have come across the term ‘assisted living’.

The first thing we all think of when it comes to caring for the elderly are nursing homes, but there are actually a huge number of facilities available for seniors that offer different levels of care and independence.

Starting to look into senior living can be upsetting and can cause tension between you and your elders, which is why it’s important to have open and honest conversations about the topic and ensure you are aware of all the options available.

For most, nursing homes will be the last resort. There are several types of accommodation available before someone might require the 24/7 care provided in a care home setting. These include independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Facilities like Frontier Management have several accommodation types to suit different requirements.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the differences between assisted living and nursing homes to give you a better understandingof what types of care could work for your relative.

Nursing Homes

Nursing home residents benefit from the care of a registered nurse around the clock. While residents still have access to some of the same features as those in assisted homes, the major difference is the access to medical care at any time of day.

Care homes are for those that cannot live independently. Independence can be determined by a person’s ability to practice activities of daily living (ADLs), as well as instrumental activities of daily living. These include things like dressing, eating, cooking, and maintaining personal hygiene.

Those living in a nursing home will have a higher level of assistance available to them. This might include helping to get dressed in the morning, change bedding, visit the restroom, and helping to feed them regular meals.

In terms of clientele, nursing homes are ideal for seniors suffering from cognitive diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. These diseases can quickly progress, and by moving relatives into a nursing home, the whole family can rest assured that they are safe and supervised at all times. Care homes are also good for those that require injected medications or IV drips.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a much-preferred style of accommodation – for both seniors and their families. This style of care is more of a community space and perfect for those that are still fairly independent. They may require help with some daily activities such as bathing, shopping, or cooking, but they are generally able to look after themselves for longer periods of time.

If your relative has never lived in any other care facility, assisted living is a great first step. It provides a more ‘at home’ feel while still making sure they are safe, and help is available when needed.

Care on Call

Caregivers at assisted accommodation are able to provide help with housekeeping, managing medication schedules, or even just offering companionship for their residents. Facilities usually have a registered nurse on call, but most caregivers play more of an assistant role rather than a medical one.

Social Opportunities

Assisted living can be incredibly positive for seniors and can provide new levels of socializing that have often faded away. It can be extremely difficult for elders living in their own homes to maintain an active social life outside of family visits, and isolation or depression can quickly set in. Within assisted apartments, elders can see a huge improvement to their social life as well as mental wellbeing.

These facilities also offer voluntary events, like movie nights or game days, where seniors can make new friends and create long-lasting relationships.

Modified Apartments

One way assisted living allows seniors to maintain their independence is through the modified accommodation. Wider hallways for those with walkers or wheelchairs, bars and handles in the restroom to help people push themselves up, or roll-in showers are all simple modifications installed to help your relatives live as independently as possible. A lot of mobility issues can be eased by simply making tight spaces wider and more accessible.

Costs and Coverage Options

One of the biggest differences between nursing homes and assisted living is the cost. Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey in 2019 found the average price for assisted living residents was $4,051 a month. Meanwhile, nursing home residents were seen to pay anywhere between $7,513-$8,517 a month. That’s a huge difference, so it’s vital to understand what level of care your relative needs before jumping into applying for nursing homes.

In terms of insurance and cost coverage options, when looking at long-term care stays, Medicare usually doesn’t cover the costs of accommodation. Medicaid, on the other hand, is accepted in some nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, you will need to check with your specific company.

The most common way people pay for long-term assisted care is out of their own pocket. You can enquire about what kinds of insurance your chosen facility does offer, as it can become incredibly expensive otherwise. It’s also worth discussing finances with your senior relative. They may have veterans benefits or care insurance that can help cover the costs.

Final Thoughts

There are some major differences between nursing homes and assisted living, and it’s clear to see the benefits of moving elderly relatives into assisted living if possible. Within assisted living, seniors can benefit from a whole array of activities and services that reinvigorate their social lives, mental wellbeing, and independence. While at home their mobility issues may have stopped them from getting around or up the stairs, assisted, one-floor accommodation with wider corridors can quickly eradicate those issues that seemed so debilitating.

Another key difference is the cost: avoiding moving relatives into nursing homes for as long as possible can save them a huge amount of money in the long run, as well as helping them feel a little freer than they would with 24/7 medical assistance.

Lastly, assisted living also gives families peace of mind: these facilities are much less intimidating and feel more like simply moving house rather than moving into a nursing home, which can feel like an end-of-life solution. Overall, assisted living is a great choice, and everyone can benefit from the security and level of independence they offer.