Assisted Living Facilities v. Nursing Homes

Sadly, the world of long term care that we are frequently thrown into without much preparation, is complex. There are so many subtle differences between one nursing home or assisted living and the next. Once upon a time, long term care was one size fits all. As our society has aged, more and more options have come into the marketplace, we are now faced with so many different sizes, both literally and figuratively, how could we possibly know which one is the best for our individual loved one?

  1. Who is assisted living for?
  2. How does assisted living work?
  3. What is personal care v. skilled care?

Once upon a time the only option available when one could no longer stay in her home was a nursing home. And, truth be told, people simply weren’t living as long as they are today. Anymore, people don’t die from their first heart attack or bout with cancer, and the care that people need as they age is typically personal care: help with meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, bathing, and even dressing and toileting. None of those care needs are medical and don’t require the skill of a nurse around the clock. Therefore, anymore, most people are living out their lives in an assisted living community where they are receiving help with their personal needs and have a nurse on hand should there be a medical concern. Today, nursing homes are more like geriatric hospitals: a place where people go to regain their strength and recover after a fall or illness. Most people don’t live in nursing homes. People are now living long enough that the vast majority of us will need some sort of assistance: home care, assisted living, hospice, maybe skilled nursing.

No Two People Have the Same Care Needs

In truth, as a married individual, we may find ourselves in a situation where we are called upon to find a care community for our loved one, maybe 4 times: once for our own mom or dad and maybe again for our spouse’s mom or dad. The challenge here is that it seems no two people age alike, and if a husband has needed care, the financial situation and therefore options available will be very different for the wife. It’s tough to become an expert when the rules change each time you play the game!

Ask the Elder Care Experts

We know to seek the advice of an attorney when we have a legal question, a realtor when we want to buy or sell a home, a financial advisor to help with investments, but many of us don’t know that there is help available when we want to find the best care for our loved one. At Vesta Senior Network, we are Elder Care Consultants, and our job is to help our clients make the best possible choice when their loved one is no longer safe at home. Since 2013, the consultants at Vesta Senior Network have helped over 400 families find the best care for their older adult.

Elder Care: the New Frontier

The relative newness of this great need for care for our loved ones has created a bit of a “New Frontier” or “Wild West” in the long term care industry. Although the skilled nursing homes are very regulated by the government, most of us won’t need that level of care. The industry is not building new nursing homes. The industry is building assisted living facilities. And with that comes variety: variety in the type of care provided, variety in the quality of care provided, and variety in what will happen after someone outlives his or her assets.

Are Assisted Living Communities Licensed?

Yes, these new assisted living communities are regulated by the state government, but they have latitude in how they provide care and run their businesses. And this is why it’s essential to consult with the experts at the very start of your journey into long term care.

As Elder Care Consultants, it is our job to understand the nuances that exist from the type and amount of care that will be provided, as well as how each individual care community manages the so-important aspect of financing long term care. The long term care industry is full of euphemisms and terms that only an insider would understand: memory care, enhanced care, attended care, assisted care, scheduled care. What do those mean and how do they impact your ability to make a sustainable decision for your loved one? Unfortunately, each one of those terms can mean one thing to one care community and something completely different at the next. It is important to be a savvy consumer when selecting a home for your loved one. You need to know that the assisted living community can provide them with the care he needs today, as well as into the future. You also need to know that he will continue to be cared for even if he outlives his assets. By consulting with an elder care consultant, you can tap into that person’s experience and knowledge and find the peace of mind that you are looking for.

Pam Foti, Co-Owner and Elder Care Consultant