Many people equate assisted living communities with nursing homes. While both nursing homes and assisted living communities perform support functions for their residents, there are significant differences between the two. For many seniors and their families, assisted living is a desirable alternative to a nursing home.
Assisted Living Communities are NOT Nursing Homes
In traditional nursing homes, residents are assigned to private or semi-private rooms, much like hospital rooms. Nursing homes are fully staffed with medical personnel who are on the premises around the clock. Nursing home residents are frequently bedridden, and require assistance for basic functions, along with ongoing medical care.
By contrast, assisted living facilities vary in the level of care provided to residents. Medical personnel may be on staff, or on call, but not necessarily on the premises 24/7. Assisted living facilities often house residents in studio or one-bedroom apartments. Meals may be provided, along with support for functions such as bathing or physical therapy, but residents are generally more independent than in nursing homes.
Pets Are Welcome!
Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities allow residents to keep their pets. In fact, many facilities encourage residents to bring a favorite chair, lamp, or other items from their former homes to help them settle into the assisted living community.
Culturally-Diverse Options are Available
Assisted living facilities exist to accommodate ethnic and cultural variations in foods, religious practices, and other areas. Many assisted living facilities maintain kosher kitchens, stock their pantries with Asian staples, or are equipped to accommodate vegetarian, low fat, low sodium, and other dietary restrictions.
Assisted Living Can Include Memory Care
Many families dealing with a loved one who requires memory care automatically assume a nursing home is their only option. However, many assisted living facilities are equipped to provide memory care for their residents. Residents in the early stages of dementia often benefit from interacting with other residents, while individuals with advanced dementia receive specialized care from professionals who are trained to provide memory care.
Assisted Living Is Affordable
While long-term care does carry significant costs, assisted living costs are generally lower than those for full-fledged nursing homes are. Many assisted living patients are able to finance their care from their personal resources. However, many states provide waivers that significantly reduce the financial burden of assisted living. Long-term insurance policies can also cover the costs of assisted care. Finally, many assisted living facilities work with residents and their families to find creative ways to finance the costs.
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