Five Key Differences Between An Assisted Living Facility And A Nursing Home

Long-term care for seniors in the United States consists of numerous options. The most widely used, though, are typically an assisted living facility (ASLF) or skilled nursing home. While the average length of stay at either facility is around 28 months per resident, there are myriad differences between them. Here is a look at five of the most notable differences:

Licensed Medical Care

Most facilities do not have licensed nurses on staff. They are considered nonmedical facilities, and because of this, a doctor or nurse is not required to be on the premises. If there are doctors or nurses connected with the facility, they cannot legally provide hands-on services by way of anything defined as “skilled” medical care, such as administering aid or prescribing medicine. Unlike at nursing homes, they do not provide 24-hour medical attention to residents.

Hospital or Apartment?

The advent of ASLFs came about as the media increasingly criticized the institutional feeling of nursing homes, which were often hospital-like. On the contrary, assisted living is more “home-like,” and in many cases allows for seniors to live relatively independently in an apartment or condo setting. In comparison to nursing homes, they are afforded more privacy and offered custodial assistance in their daily routines.

Residents’ Average Age

The average age on admission of residents in an assisted living facility is approximately seven years older than that of residents in a nursing home. According to an industry website, residents are, on average, 86.9 years old when entering a facility and 79 years old on average when admitted to a nursing home.

Payment Varies between Locations

While most nursing homes are covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the same is not always true with an assisted living facility. Typically, payment in those cases comes from personal funds. When seeking more information about payment, be prepared with your social security number, information about the patient’s health, the reason for seeking long-term care, and your current medical insurance coverage.

Availability of Social and Learning Opportunities

Due to the more open, or home-like, setting, activities and social interaction are much more prevalent. Some interesting trends in activities include fitness (yoga, Nintendo Wii, walking clubs, etc.), college-level continuing education, performance art (karaoke, plays, dance troupes), hobbies (crafts, cooking, gardening), computer education and assistance, and more. While nursing homes are not devoid of activities, the variety of activities is much broader in assisted living facilities.

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