Residential Facilities, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes

There is a limit to what loved ones and family caregivers can do. Eventually, the needs of an elderly parent will outgrow what their sons and daughters can provide. When this happens, it’s time to consider residential facilities and other care services.

Some care facilities provide patients with the most basic of services, including general home maintenance. Others provide complete personal care and health care solutions and are more viable long-term options for individuals with serious mobility problems, as well as deteriorating conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. 

That being said, what is the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home, what kind of senior care solutions do they provide, and which option is best for the needs of your loved one?

Residential Care Facilities

Also known as board and care homes, residential care facilities provide basic services and experienced staff members that are available around-the-clock. These facilities tend to be very small, typically housing just a dozen or so patients, and the basic care options they provide include assistance with meals, cleaning, and more. 

However, these facilities do not provide medical care services and the staff are not trained to deal with serious medical issues, nor can they administer medication and help with complex medical needs.

It’s independent living, and it takes place within a community that is constantly monitored, so it’s a good option for patients who want to retain some independence but need help with some of their basic needs.

Assisted Living Communities

An assisted living facility provides more complex nursing care and can help with many Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These facilities generally have up to 100 residents and provide services such as daily meals, housekeeping, medication management, laundry services, and around-the-clock care and supervision.

Patients are generally given their own rooms and they share other areas with the community, including recreational areas where they can watch television and play games.

If paying for a stay in an assisted living facility, it’s important to check the bill and make sure you know what you’re being charged for. While many essential services are provided free of charge, others are offered for additional costs that can add up quickly.

Nursing Homes

A nursing home is a skilled nursing facility that provides assistance with all of a patient’s complex needs. It’s one of the more complete options but, as a result, it is also the most expensive. There is more of an emphasis on medical care, and nursing homes accept patients who are suffering from serious physical and mental disabilities as well as those looking for around-the-clock care.

Nursing homes can cost up to $80,000 a year on average, which means it’s not always a viable long-term solution. Many patients choose to stay in these facilities for a short period of time that may be covered by Medicaid and Medicare, as well as some long-term care insurance and life insurance policies.

These short stays can follow prolonged periods in the hospital and can help a patient recover fully. In addition to providing medical services, nursing homes can also help with memory care, rehabilitation, and other complex care needs.

Some residents are forced to live in nursing homes full-time, as they need the constant care and assistance that these facilities provide and don’t have any other option.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Also known as life-care communities, CCRCs provide many of the benefits of assisted living facilities, nursing care, and independent housing in a single unit. The care recipient can choose the type of care that they need and structure it around their budget and their condition.

They can have a private room and take part in recreational activities and social interactions and, if they feel like they need additional care and better support, they can move into one of the specialist care units.

Additional Information

For more information about these long-term care services, speak with the Department of Health’s National Institute on Aging. You can find local resources concerning senior living options, skilled nursing care, and home care, finding the option that works best for the patient’s specific needs and budget.