Assisted Living vs Nursing Home: What You Need to Know
If you have aging parents who are having trouble remembering to take their medications, forget to pay the bills, or have mobility issues that make their own home an unsafe place, you’re looking for options. When it comes to senior living, there are several levels of care, including in-home care, assisted living, and a nursing home. In a previous blog, we went over assisted living vs in-home care.
Today we’ll look at assisted living vs a nursing home. There are several big differences that will help dictate which option is right for your loved one. You should make the decision together, along with your loved one’s doctors. Let’s get started.
Level of Care
The level of care differs greatly between the two types of facilities. Let’s compare.
In an assisted living environment, your loved one receives, at a minimum:
- Help with medication management.
- Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, etc.
- Meal preparation is generally included, along with snacks, open coffee/tea bar, etc.
- Housekeeping and laundry service is provided.
- Doctors or a nurse may make scheduled visits to see residents for basic care.
- Emergency care requires transport off site.
In a nursing home environment, most people are there because they need a higher level of personal care as well as medical care. A senior might need to be in a nursing home if they are unable to feed themselves, have significant mobility issues, require regular injections, or have a progressive medical condition.
- Medication management and administration, including injections.
- Assistance with ADLs or full care for bathing, feeding a resident, etc.
- All meals provided, much like a hospital.
- Housekeeping and laundry service included.
- Some medical services and emergency care provided on site.
- 24/7 skilled nursing care provided.
Medical Staff on Duty
In general, a stand-alone assisted living facility will have staff on duty 24/7. At Broad Creek Manor our staff is trained as state licensed Certified Medication Technicians. In a medical emergency, they might call a nurse or doctor on call, or call for an ambulance. Nursing homes are known as skilled nursing facilities for a reason. They have a skilled nursing staff on duty 24/7 to provide needed injections, take care of minor medical procedures, and more.
Under Maryland law, the medical director of a nursing home must be a physician, and there must always be a doctor available to nursing home staff. A nursing home will also provide medical transport to a hospital if needed.
Level of Social Activities
Assisted living communities in general have a higher level of social activities, as their seniors are healthier and more engaged. But nursing homes should also offer a range of activities to engage their residents. Some skilled nursing facilities are better than others at providing social activities.
For both types of facilities, activities might include:
- Board games/card games
- Hobby clubs
- Music programs
- Holiday and birthday parties
- Religious services
In assisted living, many people will attend these activities and get fully involved. In a nursing home environment, attendance might be sparse, but it is important to have these activities to stimulate senior’s minds and bodies.
In assisted living, residents have either a private room or a shared room and bathroom that they share with a friend or a spouse. There is also plenty of common space for activities, and usually an outside area that residents can enjoy.
In a nursing home environment, rooms may be private or shared with a stranger. Many rooms may be equipped with hospital-style beds, lending rooms a less cozy feel than an assisted living room. There are generally fewer common areas, and no outside areas residents can go to unaccompanied.
How You Pay for Care
The cost of assisted living is generally paid out of pocket – either from funds the senior has accumulated over the years, a long-term care insurance policy, or by a family member. There are some assistance programs available.
Most nursing home care is paid for by Medicaid, but a senior would have to spend down their own assets (sell the house, use retirement funds) before Medicaid coverage would kick in. Medicare will cover some costs if you have a short stay at a skilled nursing facility after hospitalization to recover from surgery or a health condition.
When to Move from Assisted Living to a Nursing Home
The decision to move into assisted living from one’s own home is a big one. So is the decision to transition from assisted living to a nursing home. The decision is a personal one, and one that is usually made for medical reasons. Nursing homes frequently require a physical examination and a doctor’s prescription, as well as state approval for someone to enter a nursing home.
As we have said, assisted living is a good communal living situation for seniors who need assistance with ADLs, medication management, and need more social interaction than they were getting living at home. But seniors in assisted living don’t need round the clock medical care.
If your loved one is having more and more frequent medical problems resulting in trips to the doctor or hospitalization, it may be time to look into transitioning to a nursing home where they can get round-the-clock medical care.
In Maryland, the state Oversight Committee on Quality of Care in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities is focused on improving the quality of care in both types of facilities. Before you choose a facility of either type, be sure to do your research, and visit numerous facilities.
Schedule a Visit to Our Assisted Living Home Today
If you’re looking to find the right assisted living facility for an aging loved one who needs help caring for themselves, contact us today to schedule a tour of our facilities. Use the contact form or call us at 410-452-0004. Broad Creek Manor Assisted Living is conveniently located in Harford County, Maryland, within a short drive of Baltimore County and Cecil County, as well as York and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.