Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are generally designed for different types of residents—although there has been more and more overlap in recent years in terms of the types of residents served.
While assisted living facilities are still designed for residents who are more healthy and independent, more and more facilities have begun taking on residents with cognitive and physical impairments—and many assisted living facilities have separate memory care wings. Even so, here is an overview of the significant differences you’ll find between the two.
Assisted Living Communities
These types of communities are designed for adults who are able to do most things on their own, but who need a certain amount of support and companionship. Many assisted living communities offer separate apartments or condos, but with an element of communal living. Assisted living facilities may provide planned activities, housekeeping services, meals, health and exercise classes, communal areas to casually socialize, and laundry services.
These types of facilities also offer help with activities of daily living including personal hygiene tasks, eating, cooking, dressing, medication management, and housekeeping. This is one of the key factors that separates assisted living from independent living facilities, which are designed generally for the healthiest and most physically independent category of older adult.
However, assisted living facilities do not usually offer round-the-clock medical support. Some facilities have a nurse or doctor visit periodically, and offer transportation to local hospitals to residents who need it.
Medicaid and Medicare do not pay for assisted living costs, although in 41 states, including Texas, there are waiver programs that help low-income residents pay for assisted living. In Texas, theCommunity Based Alternatives Waiver will help pay for assisted living costs, as well as the STAR Plus Waiver, which is active in select areas of the state. Assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level, so the operating rules are slightly different on a state-by-state basis.
Nursing homes are generally for people who need more closely supervised care. At nursing homes, a team of licensed or registered nursing staff is on hand on a 24/7 basis. Some types of nursing homes will have certified nursing assistants on staff.
Most people who are best suited for nursing homes have serious illnesses or injuries; such as those who cannot get out of bed, have wounds or bone breaks that are healing very slowly, or who suffer from serious medical issues such as advanced diabetes or congestive heart failure. Many nursing home residents have mobility issues, and a large number need special memory care.
Nursing homes are generally more costly than assisted living. For those who qualify, some or most of the costs can be covered by Medicaid. The federal government regulates nursing homes across the country.
Assisted living facilities and nursing homes serve different types of residents—mostly—and are generally paid for by different programs, if you can get assistance; not everyone qualifies. Talk to your doctor about the type of assistance you or your loved one needs, and you’ll be able to decide which is right for you.
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