nursing home

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When a family elder’s health begins to decline, families often start to search for senior care solutions online. A problem they often encounter is figuring out what type of care their older loved one needs. Because there are so many options from which to choose, families feel overwhelmed.

Part of this confusion comes from not being able to determine the differences between an assisted living community and a nursing home. People often assume these two types of senior living are similar when, in fact, they are very different.

Another source of confusion comes from misconceptions about senior care communities. From outdated ideas about nursing homes to the belief that assisted living is only for wealthy seniors, these myths may keep older adults from getting the care they need to live their best lives.

Today, we’ll bust some of the myths and address the confusion about assisted living communities and nursing homes.

Myth #1:

The only difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities is the physical appearance. Nursing homes are usually older and more institutional, while assisted living is more like an apartment complex.

Fact

While it’s true that these two types of senior living usually differ in appearance, the other important distinction is in the care and services offered.

An assisted living community is designed for older adults who need a helping hand with life’s daily activities. That might include support with bathing, grooming, or dressing, and with managing medications. Toileting assistance is also common. Most assisted living residents receive support with housekeeping and laundry.

A nursing home is for seniors and younger adults with a disability or health care condition that requires daily medical intervention by skilled care professionals. For example, a person who has a pulmonary disease that requires daily support from a respiratory therapist might live in a nursing home.

Myth #2:

Nursing homes are the only type of care centers that offer support with medication.

Fact

While nursing homes do provide medication management services, so do assisted living communities. The laws regarding assisted living and medication oversight differ from state to state, so you’ll want to visit your state’s department of health or department of aging online to learn more.

Myth #3:

Residents who live in a senior care community mostly play bingo, watch movies, and wait for family members to visit them.

Fact

This is another persistent myth that can be debunked by visiting a senior community. Residents have opportunities to participate in life enrichment and wellness activities each day. Both types of senior care centers design these activities to meet the unique needs of residents. For example, while an assisted living community might offer a more traditional yoga class, a nursing home may offer a chair yoga class that works around residents’ mobility challenges.

Myth #4:

Assisted living communities are too expensive for the average senior.

Fact

For people who haven’t explored assisted living communities before, there might be an initial sticker shock. But when you factor in all of the services and amenities, you will discover how an assisted living community offers real value. Rent, utilities, basic cable, meals, housekeeping, laundry, and more are usually included in the base fee.

Myth #5:

The food is awful in both assisted living communities and nursing homes.

Fact

This myth is just plain inaccurate. In the last decade, assisted living communities and nursing homes have focused considerable effort on creating meals that are nutritious and delicious. Some communities even have on-site chefs. Dining is a social occasion whereby residents enjoy good conversation over well-prepared food.

To learn more about choosing an assisted living community, download this free guide created in conjunction with the National Center for Assisted Living and the American Health Care Association.

For advice on evaluating a nursing home near you, visit Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare site.

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