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Published On: Mon, Jan 10th, 2022

The Differences Between Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Nursing Home Care

Residential communities for people in the later years of their lives do not all serve the same purpose or help people with the same issues. There is, of course, a huge variance in the needs and desires of older people. As such, these communities can be classified into three rough groups: assisted living, skilled nursing, and nursing home communities. This article aims to give a brief overview of these different types of later life residential care and community. 

image by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from Flickr Creative Commons.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are the least medically oriented kinds of retirement community. There are several kinds of assisted living communities, from gated communities to boarding homes. Every effort is made to ensure that people’s experience in assisted living communities can get on with their retirement with the least inconvenience. Older people living in these communities typically choose to do so not because they have any special physical or cognitive needs. Instead, they are opting to live with people around their own age that share the same experiences as them without compromising on their individuality. 

Assisted living facilities are often within easy reach of shopping precincts, areas of natural beauty, and recreational areas. Although they are partially staffed by care professionals, most of the staff are merely there to help residents access facilities and deal with their housing issues. They are essentially retirement communities with limited medical functionality where some arduous tasks such as housekeeping are completed by staff, leaving the residents to get on with their retirement in peace. Some assisted living communities are based around a certain key activity, such as golfing. 

Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing environments are geared towards residents with complex medical needs that are not necessarily impactful for the rest of their lives or constantly hindering their cognition or day-to-day activities. A person might, for instance, enter a skilled nursing community if they are recovering from a small stroke but are otherwise in good health. Skilled nursing costs reflect the extra medical staff and equipment needed to help residents get through tough times in their later years. 

Residents of skilled nursing environments typically do not need help with completing non-medical everyday tasks but do require assistance with their recovery and overall wellbeing. Some residents can require more consistent help due to their health conditions, but they are only expected to need these services temporarily. 

Nursing Home

In contrast, nursing home residents are usually expected to need medical and daily activity help for the rest of their lives. Nursing homes cater for people who are suffering from chronic illness, cognitive dysfunctions, or physical disability in their later years. Nursing homes afford their residents far less agency due to residents needing around the clock care and help with tasks. Good nursing homes help residents by employing specialist cognitive medical staff and physical therapists that aim to improve quality of life. They offer a safe place for residents that would otherwise be unable to cope with life. 

These are the three main living options for older adults as they approach later life. Before deciding which is the most suitable for you, or a loved one, be sure to research each option thoroughly. 

 Author: Carol Trehearn

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