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How do I know whether I should be looking for an assisted living or a nursing home for my mom and dad?

Assisted living, retirement home, rest home, nursing home, senior apartment, AFC…there are many different names for senior care communities and it can be very confusing to know the difference.  Luckily in some ways it is very easy once you really know what to look for! Read below to see where you think your loved one fits in.  Be aware though, while the concept may become clearer, it is still incredibly hard to identify the right community for your loved one without professional assistance by a company like Crossroads that inspects and tours every community regularly.

 

Assisted Living

Care: A licensed assisted living (meaning either an AFC or HFA license) can assist with all activities of daily living including dressing, bathing, toileting, feeding, transferring, standing, and walking.  If they have a dementia care unit, they also can provide secure memory care and the additional challenges that accompany it.  End of life care is also commonly offered, usually with the help of hospice services. 24/7 awake staff should always be offered, and medications are managed for all residents.  The caveat is that not all assisted living communities offer the same care, so it helps to work with Crossroads to know which are the right fit.

Funding:  Private funds from the family are the primary way a person would pay for assisted living. Other accepted funding can include veterans’ benefits, long term care insurance, and Medicaid waiver.  It is vitally important to know that Medicaid waiver is NOT the same as Medicaid and will only pay part of a persons care costs (not room and food) at assisted living communities that are approved to accept it.  Crossroads can provide you with current options.

Environment:  An assisted living can offer either private or shared rooms, and you generally furnish them with your own belongings.  These communities feel very home like and comfortable and have lots of opportunities to socialize and take part in life enrichment activities.

 

Skilled Nursing

Care:  a licensed skilled nursing can provide all the care an assisted living can, plus medical care such as IV’s, feeding tubes, wound care, and highly fragile residents with complicated medication schedules. 

Funding:  Skilled nursing homes can accept Medicaid as the full payment source for their residents.  Remember, to be on Medicaid you need to have less than 2,000 dollars, not including a house and car.  You can also pay privately but the cost is often much higher than an assisted living for help with the same care needs.

Environment:  Skilled nursing provides medical care and so has a much more institutional feel.  The rooms are often shared and utilize hospital beds.

 

Takeaway:  Both assisted living and skilled nursing can provide total assistance with the activities of daily living of their residents through the end of life, which is the only type of care that most people will need as they age.  Most of us will not need medical care in a long-term care setting at the end of our lives, we will need compassionate and trained assistance to help us with our activities of daily living. Acute medical care can be provided in a hospital setting.   If a person can afford assisted living, the best thing they can do is to educate themselves on which one can provide the needed level of care and is the most comfortable, and then compare that option with skilled nursing.  Our experience is that this process really makes it clear which type of facility is the right one for your parent.

Crossroads Eldercare Options can help.  Call us at 616-485-3365

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