Last Updated: December 14, 2017
Many families searching for senior care don’t know the differences between the options available to then. Learning the distinction between different kinds of long-term care providers can help you more quickly identify the right care option for your parent or senior loved one.
Learn more about which senior care option is best for you and your family, through this assisted living checklist.
The Cost of Confusion in Assisted Living
Most families searching for senior care start out similarly unaware of senior living terms. For this reason, a family caring for a senior loved one may reach the point where it’s obvious that professional care is essential, but they still may not know what kind exactly.
Research by A Place for Mom suggests that senior living consumers tend to use “nursing home” as a catch-all term for all kinds of senior care. Our analysis demonstrates that of 100 families who search online for nursing home care:
- An average of only 21 ultimately choose a nursing home for their loved one
- 34 choose assisted living
- The rest chose other kinds of care
In short, a family who believes their loved one is in need of a nursing home is more likely to be mistaken than to be correct. Sean Kell, CEO of A Place for Mom, said:
This is indicative of a “severe lack of consumer education” that’s not only harming occupancy at senior communities but that’s also preventing families from arranging the right care in a timely manner.
Consumer confusion about kinds of care can causes trouble on multiple fronts. The lack of clarity about senior community types not only inconveniences families, it can also potentially endanger the senior when the family’s confusion about the right care type causes a delay putting in place the appropriate kind of care. Or, in the rare but troubling cases when communities don’t have top-notch admission procedures, residents may be admitted to facilities that don’t offer an adequate level of care, which is obviously dangerous to the resident.
Other times, residents may be admitted to communities that offer much more care than is required, which usually results in unnecessary money being spent and also a resident who is unsatisfied and out of place because he is among a group of people who need much more intensive care.
It’s essential that the senior’s community offers enough care, and it’s ideal that residents have the opportunity to be among peers with similar ability levels. These simple but important criteria can be met when the right kind of residence is chosen.
Assisted Living: A Self-Assessment Checklist
The Senior Living Advisors that work with AssistedLiving.com help families determine the appropriate type of care for their loved one. A 10-15 minute consultation is usually enough time for a Senior Advisor to determine right kinds of care to explore. If you are in the process of making the determination right now, we encourage you to contact us for free guidance.
But whether or not you speak with an Advisor, it can be empowering to educate yourself about the options.
Here is a short guide to help you begin to understand the difference between assisted living, nursing home and other types of care, and to help you understand which care type your family should begin explore:
1. Is your loved one ambulatory?
Assisted living residents generally must be at least somewhat ambulatory (be able to get around on their own). Bedridden seniors and sometimes even wheelchair bound seniors, are rarely good assisted living candidates and their families should explore nursing homes. While a limited number of assisted living communities are able provide one or two person transfers, or even use mechanical lifts, most cannot.
2. Does your loved one have a chronic wound, colostomy, require insulin injections, tracheostomy etc.?
Assisted living communities rarely are allowed to care for residents with these conditions. Furthermore, a large number of assisted living communities are not allowed to provide insulin injections. There are a few states where assisted living facilities can obtain additional licensing to offer care like this, for example, assisted living facilities in Florida can offer the above mentioned care if they have a “limited nursing services license,” but as a rule of thumb, the kind of care described above is indicative of the need for nursing home care.
3. Does your loved one require medical attention on an ongoing basis?
Assisted living communities can offer a high level of care with “activities of daily living.” such as bathing, dressing, toileting and so on, but this kind of care is considered non-medical. If your loved one needs medical attention from a doctor or nurse on an ongoing basis, a nursing home is more preferable.
4. Does your loved one require rehabilitation, for example after a hospitalization or surgery?
Rehabilitation services are offered at a nursing home and are covered by Medicare for up to 100 days. If your family is looking for rehab, explore nursing homes. It is worth noting though, that after rehab, many seniors may need to move to assisted living.
5. Does your loved one have late stage Alzheimer’s or dementia?
While regular assisted living communities may be able to offer sufficient care to people with early to moderate Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia, they are usually not equipped to care for people with symptoms associated most advanced stages of the illness, which include difficulty chewing and swallowing, as well as behavior problems and a host of other issues. In this case, dedicated memory care is required. Sometimes this can be offered at an assisted living community with a special memory-care unit, but a nursing home with an Alzheimer’s specialization is most often preferable in cases of late stage Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Do you have any additional suggestions about how to choose between assisted living and other types of senior care? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.