Assisted Living Versus Nursing Care
Nursing care isn’t a topic most of us want to think about, and for good reason. Understanding the services available and their pros and cons can be complicated. Further, there is a good deal of confusion regarding the difference between assisted living and long-term care, often called nursing care.
Assisted living is a lifestyle that supports people’s independence and strives to make it possible for residents to live with people who are physically, socially and cognitively similar for as long as possible. Tasks that may have required asking for help – such as driving to appointments, cleaning, doing laundry or preparing meals – are provided for you in assisted living.
Here’s a quick primer on the scope of services available in assisted living, what type of issues require skilled nursing care and the costs associated with them. Knowing as much as possible before you, a loved one or a parent needs supportive services is always the best strategy.
In a broad sense, assisted living is a lifestyle that supports an individual’s independence and strives to make it possible for residents to live with people who are as physically, socially and cognitively similar for as long as possible.
Tasks that previously required assistance – such as driving to and from appointments, cleaning, doing laundry or preparing meals – are provided for you in assisted living. Many assisted living communities offer graduated levels of services and pricing. Those include:
When you look at providing residents with the ability to age in place over the long term, assisted living often begins to look like the ideal option.
What if you, a parent or loved one need additional support but aren’t sure if typical assisted living services are enough? You may require skilled nursing care, instead.
There are two rules of thumb that require skilled nursing care rather than assisted living.
Some states, including Pennsylvania, offer another option for long-term care called a Personal Care Home. This is an ideal option for individuals who need assistance with activities ranging from daily living (dressing or bathing), medication management or memory support.
This option offers many of the same services as assisted living centers and is less expensive. However, Personal Care centers do not have to meet the same staffing requirements, education requirements for staff, “opt out of services” requirements, etc., just to name a few.
Still unsure whether assisted living or a personal care home would be better for you or a loved one? Here’s a hypothetical example that explains the difference.
Let’s say Mrs. Smith lives in a personal care center and is admitted to the hospital because she contracts an infection. After a few days, the hospital is ready to discharge her, but she needs IV antibiotics. A personal care home might not be able to take her back.
In this scenario, she would need to go to a CCRC that offers assisted living and nursing care where an RN is on staff until her IV antibiotics regimen is complete. That’s a lot of added stress for Mrs. Smith and her family members.
Confronting age-related decline is difficult for loved ones and the person experiencing them firsthand. Acknowledging that recurring issues may require moving to a new home is even more challenging. Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is moving during the midst of a medical crisis.
All too often, we see people who are in desperate situations – a parent has been injured and is unable to return home, a person with memory issues has gotten behind the wheel of a car and ended up lost for several hours or a relative has been found wandering outside in 20-degree weather.
Point being, having a plan in place is imperative. Research your local aging services and long-term care communities. It is important to do this before a crisis limits your choice for the best possible care. Finally, schedule a tour of several communities to be sure that the one chosen is a good fit.
It’s also important to consider the costs associated with long-term care and what insurance coverage might look like. Medicare does not cover assisted living care and only covers skilled nursing if it is following a hospital stay for rehabilitation. Medicare will cover up to 100 days as long as the resident is making progress in a therapy program. Medicaid will cover skilled nursing if you meet your state’s financial need guidelines.
In addition to these basic guidelines, the Assisted Living Foundation of America has evaluation resources on their website.
If you’re conducting research into assisted living and personal care, it’s important to ask very specific questions about health services and staff expertise. Here are three key questions you should ask long-term care providers:
Knowing as much as possible about local assisted living communities before an emergency arises is the best strategy, especially if waiting lists are present. When you tour, keep these five things in mind.
At Asbury, our mission is to help you continue living the active lifestyle you’re used to, while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with having a secure plan for your future. With our assisted living services, you can get back to spending time doing what you love while receiving just the right amount of care and support you need throughout the day.