Everyone reaches a certain point in their lives when taking care of themselves isn’t as easy and effortless as it used to be. Assistance is needed. Depending on the level of assistance required, there are two options for elderly who could use help. One option is an assisted living facility, and the other is a nursing home. Deciding what option is best requires information about what makes each option unique, which can then be compared to the individual needs of the person, who is going to stay there. Let’s take a look at each option.
What Is an Assisted Living Facility Like?
There are plenty of older people who do not want help in their daily lives. The thought of moving out of their own home and into a facility does not appeal to them at all. They are fully capable of doing all their daily tasks by themselves, and as independent minded individuals they make all the decisions for themselves, on their own. What they do not realize is that if they get some help doing the most basic things, they can free up time and energy.
Assisted Living Facilities are created for this exact purpose: To provide minimal assistance for seniors who can basically take care of themselves. They, or their family, just need the added assurance of knowing that there is help available in case it is needed.
The upside of the assisted living facility may be greater than expected. Getting a little help here and there can free up time and energy for other and more enjoyable activities. Quite a few assisted living residents feel reinvigorated after having a lot of tasks taken away from them, whether they are perfectly capable of performing them by themselves or not.
Larger assisted living facilities often have many activities and amenities for residents. Some have swimming pools, gyms, classrooms, and movie theaters, as well as the offer of arranged field trips.
Assisted living facilities come in various types. There are smaller, more intimate communities with a limited number of residents. There are also larger complexes with several hundred apartments that have swimming pools, sports facilities, movie theaters, and more. Overall, most assisted living facilities offer the same services:
- Light Housekeeping
- Minor Medical Supervision
- Personal Care Assistance
- Social Activities
- 24 Hour Supervision
- Emergency Call Service
No service is meant to be anything more than assistance. For instance it is possible to take advantage of a few, and leave some services out. A resident can select light housekeeping, and still cook for themselves, if they prefer. The medical service provided is limited to handing out medicine. A resident can also choose to get help for bathing and dressing, and leave everything else out. The services an assisted living facility provides are meant to be a selection of options that each resident can tailor to their own specific wishes.
An assisted living facility is great for anyone who needs the offer of basic help when they need it. It is not for a senior who needs professional and constant care in any way. For that there is another choice.
What Is a Nursing Home Like?
Nursing homes are great for seniors who are no longer capable of taking care of themselves. The reasons for why may be numerous. They may have a physical condition that impairs their ability to perform their daily routines. They may also have cognitive issues that make it hard or impossible for them to take care of their everyday tasks. Whatever the reason, nursing homes provide the assistance certain elderly people need.
Nursing homes differ from assisted living facilities. They have to be licensed by the state they are in and are staffed by professional certified nurses, as opposed to the care provided at assisted living facilities. What this means is that nursing homes are able to provide a complete medical service, as they are capable of prescribing as well as administering medications and treatments on site. But not only is the medical service more comprehensive. All services are. A full list of what care nursing homes provide is as follows:
- All meals cooked, served and cleared
- Assistance with all needs during the day: bathing, dressing, getting in and out of bed, more
- All medical needs are handled, including administration of all types of medication
- All cleaning performed whenever needed
- 24 hour supervision and attention
- Social activities
An important benefit of nursing homes is that each resident’s day is structured, because all their needs are taken care of, and thus they do not have to worry about them. The effect is that nursing home residents become happier, healthier, better functioning, more socially active, and can end up living longer.
Assisted Living Facility vs. Nursing Home
Making the choice between an assisted living facility and a nursing home really boils down to the degree of help needed. If a senior is able to take care of most things themselves, but could use a hand or two during the day, an assisted living facility is the best choice. If a senior needs constant and complete care, choosing a nursing home is the right option.
A variable is the mental state of the potential resident. Can the senior be trusted to take care of themselves, even though they know what they have to do, i.e. take medication, etc. It is important to note, that an assisted living facility is not able to help make sure that medications are actually taken.
A good idea is to go visit each type of facility and see for yourself what type of service each facility offers. Make sure that you speak to staff and residents alike to get a more complete impression, and if you can go unannounced, do so, as that will be a more telling experience than a planned tour. However, the most important thing is to sit down and consider what type of help you or a loved one wants, and equally important, what they need.
If an elderly needs total care, a nursing home is the advisable choice. If 24 hour attention is unnecessary, then perhaps an assisted living facility is a good option, as it is possible to choose what level of service is needed.
Updated: March 28, 2014