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Many people often think of nursing homes as the end-all of senior care, but that simply isn’t the case; there is no single approach to elderly care. From skilled nursing facilities to assisted living communities to independent living communities, there are many kinds of senior care facilities suited to meet the needs of the millions of senior citizens living in the United States.
Many people use the term “nursing home” as an umbrella term for any sort of senior care facility, but that usage isn’t always accurate. Health care providers typically refer to nursing homes as either long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). These terms more accurately describe what these facilities actually do: provide (typically long-term) residential care to disabled people and seniors with a staff of qualified caregivers.
What sets apart “nursing homes” from other facilities is the level of care they provide to their residents. Oftentimes, SNFs provide more intensive medical care than other types of senior care facilities, such as assisted or independent living communities.
According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey (https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html), the typical cost of a semi-private nursing home room was $7,513/month or $90,156/year. There are several reasons for these high prices, including:
There are some ways to avoid paying the full costs of nursing homes, however. Medicare, for example, will often pay for short-term care following hospitalization. Medicaid can cover the full cost of skilled nursing facilities, but usually only for a shared room. Long-term care insurance is oftentimes the best option for covering the costs of nursing homes.
Medicare can pay for an SNF for up to 100 days (https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10153-Medicare-Skilled-Nursing-Facility-Care.pdf). It will typically cover 100% of the costs for the first 20 days, then 80% of the costs for the next 80 days. Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a nursing home.
What are the pros and cons of nursing homes?
A long-term care facility isn’t the best choice for everyone. While they do provide access to 24/7 skilled nursing care, they can be incredibly expensive. It’s important to ask yourself how much assistance your loved one actually needs in their day-to-day life. If they need less assistance, there are likely more appropriate (and cost effective) options for helping your loved one access the help they need.
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Independent living refers to communities or facilities that primarily house senior residents that require little medical care or assistance with day-to-day activities.
Independent living facilities vastly differ from other types of senior living communities. These differences all boil down to the fact that residents of independent living communities often require little to no help with activities of daily living ADLs (https://frontiermgmt.com/activities-of-daily-living-checklist/). Oftentimes, the only assistance residents receive is help with appliance maintenance and lawn care. Independent senior living locations also typically provide plenty of amenities not seen in other senior health care facilities, such as swimming pools.
Medicare typically does not cover independent living expenses. (https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/what-are-my-other-long-term-care-choices) Older adults do have other options available when it comes to financial assistance for housing, however. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for example, provides assistance for senior living to eligible individuals. (https://www.hud.gov/topics/information_for_senior_citizens)
Most people who have looked into nursing homes have likely come across the term “independent living facility.” It’s important to understand that these terms are not interchangeable. A nursing home, also called a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or long-term care facility, offers a high level of medical care to its residents.
By contrast, an independent living facility (https://frontiermgmt.com/lifestyle-options/independent-living/ ) is a community of apartments, condos, or other types of residential areas designed for people 55 and older. These locations are for individuals who can live their lives with a high degree of independence and autonomy. Other terms for these facilities include retirement homes or senior apartments.
Nursing homes tend to be more expensive than either assisted living or independent living communities as they tend to provide higher levels of medical care to their residents.
No, independent senior living is not the same as a nursing home. Independent living implies that the resident has a high degree of independence and requires little to no assistance with day-to-day activities. A nursing home, or long-term care facility, houses residents that often require more medical attention and need greater assistance with daily activities.
Assisted living differs from both independent living and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Specifically, it tends to offer greater support for residents than independent living communities but not quite to the level that SNFs do.
There are plenty of benefits to living in an assisted living facility, including:
Not sure if your elderly loved one should live alone anymore? If so, be sure to discuss with their doctor if it’s time to consider moving them to an assisted living community. Many times, professionals suggest these facilities if someone has difficulties with activities of daily living (ADLs), which are tasks that are necessary to complete for a high quality of life. These activities include toileting, dressing, and managing personal hygiene.
According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018, (https://newsroom.genworth.com/2018-10-16-Genworths-15th-Annual-Cost-of-Care-Survey-Shows-Continuing-Rise-in-Long-Term-Care-Costs) assisted living facilities cost around $4000/month or $48,000/year.
While some people use the term “nursing home” and “assisted living facility” interchangeably, there are differences between the two types of senior care communities.
There are some similarities between these facilities, as both provide medical services and other types of assistance to elderly and disabled residents. These services often include Alzheimer’s disease care and hospice care, also known as end-of-life care. However, they differ primarily in the level of care they provide.
Nursing homes, also called long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), tend to offer more extensive medical care and higher levels of assistance than assisted living facilities do. This higher level of care also usually means that nursing homes are more expensive.
Yes, nursing homes tend to cost more than assisted living facilities. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018, a semi-private room in a nursing home costs roughly $7,441/month or $89,297/year. Those costs increase to $8,365/month or $100,375/year for private rooms. Assisted living facilities, by contrast, cost roughly $4,000/month or $48,000/year.
There are a wide range of options for senior living beyond just nursing homes. From assisted living facilities to independent living communities, there are countless housing options available for elderly citizens.