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Home Care, Assisted Living and Nursing Homes: What's the Difference?

Posted by Dustin DeTorres on November 4, 2014 at 4:24 PM

When elder loved ones begin to require assistance, there are several options that should be taken into consideration. In the past, nursing homes were the most common option to ensure the safety of senior family members. In recent years, assisted living facilities and home care aid have grown in popularity. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages which should be considered prior to enrollment.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes provide a safe haven for seniors that require a great deal of assistance with daily needs and mobility. Nursing homes have medical staff on shift 24 hours a day and can provide instant medical attention if needed. Most nursing homes also have physical therapists and nutritionists on staff. These services are ideal for seniors that have chronic medical conditions which require intensive supervision and aid. Nursing homes may be more expensive than other options for senior care, but Medicare and Medicaid is often accepted.

Nursing Home Disadvantages

Moving to nursing homes is often disheartening for seniors. The unfamiliarity of surroundings can be troubling, especially if cognitive functions are impaired. The lack of independence can also lead to emotional stress and poor self image.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are communities in which assistance is provided. Assisted living facilities often provide social interaction, help with meal preparation and housekeeping, and basic assistance with daily tasks. Assisted living facilities provide much more independence than nursing homes, and can help keep seniors from isolation.

Assisted Living Facility Disadvantages

Assisted living facilities are usually not licensed to provide medical care, so Medicare and Medicaid are typically not accepted. This can be problematic for seniors that are on fixed income. The lack of access to instant medical attention can also be dangerous for seniors that have chronic conditions or are at high risks for medical issues. Assisted living facilities also require seniors to move, which can cause the same emotional stress associated with relocating to nursing homes.

Home Care Services

Although non-medical home care is the most common type of home care service, medical home care may be available in some areas. Home care services of any kind allow seniors to stay in their home, which can be comforting and allow for a greater degree of independence. Medicare and Medicaid may be accepted by some home care franchises, and the base cost is typically much lower than either nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Non-medical home care aids will help seniors with activities of daily living. Medical home care will provide in-home therapy and treatment for seniors with health issues or chronic conditions. It may be possible for seniors to receive both types of assistance, as well as 24 hour care to ensure that medical help is available if needed.

Home Care Disadvantages

Even medical home care aids do not have access to the variety of equipment that is available at nursing homes, which can be troubling in an emergency. However, home care aids are able to call for assistance quickly. Staying in the home can also present safety hazards for seniors that have trouble with mobility or cognitive function. Home revisions may be necessary to bring personal homes to the level of safety provided at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Home care franchises typically offer assistance with home revisions and may offer 24 hour care for those in need of constant supervision.

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Topics: Home Care Planning

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