Nursing Homes vs. Assisted Living Facilities

Experts predict that as this century passes, we will see more individuals living longer. Over the next couple of decades, we’ll have an increasingly older population, some of whom will not be able to care for themselves.

As people live to older ages, it makes it more likely that they will need assistance when they get to their life’s later stages. It’s the rare individual who won’t have some medical conditions toward the end of their life that will make it difficult for them to conduct their day-to-day activities.

Many families have older members right now, and they’re trying to think of the best way to care for them. For instance, maybe you’re considering whether you might want to put a parent or grandparent in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

We’ll break down the difference between those two options right now, and we’ll also talk about some possible dangers of which you need to be aware.

The Difference Between the Two

If you’re going to drop your older relative off at a nursing home or an assisted living home so they can make it their new primary residence, you want to see competence in the way the staff runs the place. 

You want well-trained, compassionate staff members. You might want to see these facilities run in the same way that administrators run hospitals, with dependable medical billing practices, the latest exercise equipment, excellent food, socialization opportunities, and so forth.

The reality is that companies or individuals don’t always run these places that way, either nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Here’s the fundamental difference between the two, before we go any further, because you shouldn’t use them interchangeably, even though some people try to do so.

Nursing homes are usually for individuals who need a lot of help with their daily needs. Someone in a nursing home might need the staff to administer their medication, dress and undress them, bathe them, feed them, and so forth.

Someone in an assisted living facility can usually still take better care of themselves. They might need a little help with some of the more complex tasks, but they’re generally still more mentally and physically capable than the average nursing home resident. When someone needs to move from an assisted living facility to a nursing home, that usually means their condition is declining.

Which One Makes Sense for Your Relative?

If you do have an older relative, and you’re trying to figure out where to place them because they can no longer live on their own, you’ll first have to look at what they can still do for themselves versus what they can’t. Often, if they’re still pretty capable and only need a little daily assistance, then an assisted living facility makes more sense than a nursing home.

You’re going to have to think about cost when making this choice, though. Obviously, some individuals will have more money in their life’s later stages than others.

The average cost of living in an assisted living facility for one year is about $60K, while it costs about $100K to live for a year in a nursing home. Medicare or Medicaid can help with that, but usually not very much.

Some Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Dangers

It likely goes without saying that in addition to looking at how much any facility would cost, you should also look into each one’s background to see if there are any staff complaints, pending lawsuits, and so forth. The real issue is that there’s very little government regulation of these facilities, either on the state or national level.

It’s no exaggeration to say that nearly anyone can open one of these places. They can also hire staff members who might not necessarily have the medical training you’d expect to care for residents who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia types.  

You might have woefully unprepared staff members or discount facilities that don’t have the necessary medical equipment to care for residents who are in advanced stages of decline. That’s why you have to check into a facility very carefully before you even consider placing your relative there. You also need to keep checking up on them regularly to make sure they’re getting the help and ethical treatment they need.

Elder abuse is an issue, and elder neglect is as well. You don’t want that to happen to your relative, so regardless of which facility you choose, call, text, and visit them regularly.