Senior living communities come in many shapes, sizes and names, so finding the right living arrangement can feel overwhelming. But once it’s no longer safe for your loved one to live independently, the time has come to decide which option is best for your aging parent: assisted living or skilled nursing?
Generally speaking, residents at assisted living communities receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), while still handling most activities on their own. In a long-term care setting (also known as skilled nursing), residents receive 24/7 nursing care and assistance with most, if not all, ADLs. Let’s examine the differences between the two a little closer.
Assisted living is a great option for your loved one if they can no longer live safely at home by themselves but only require minor nursing assistance and help with daily activities. They will be encouraged to live as independently as they can while given the needed assistance with ADLs, such as bathing, grooming, toileting assistance and medication management, with staff available round-the-clock to encourage independence yet be nearby to monitor and assist.
Residents typically stay in private or semi-private apartment-style homes and can bring their furniture and belongings to re-create a familiar, home-like environment. Larger apartment homes can even accommodate couples aging together. Apartments usually feature a living and dining area, small kitchen and private bath. While seniors can prepare their own meals, common dining rooms offering healthy meals are also available and help prevent nutritional deficits common in seniors living alone. Spacious common areas are also the norm, with plentiful opportunities for socializing during daily scheduled life enrichment activities. Residents may also benefit from transportation for outings to religious services, local stores, theaters, museums and more. Some facilities, like Seven Acres, feature an on-campus chapel when many gatherings and observances can be shared by the resident community.
Assisted living communities have scheduled times for licensed nursing staff, but while accessible and on call, they may not always be present on site.
In contrast, long-term care or skilled nursing facilities are better suited for a loved one who requires 24-hour supervision and specialized medical care or daily therapy services in a skilled-care setting. Skilled nursing services can be used for short-term stays following hospitalization, surgery, injury or another significant decline in health and capabilities, such as a stroke event. During short-term stays, care typically focuses on rehabilitative services to prepare residents to return to their previously independent lifestyle.
For many, a skilled nursing community becomes their permanent home. Residents benefit from much-needed assistance with ADLs as well as 24/7 specialized medical care and monitoring, provided by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) on duty 24 hours a day. Residents typically share a semi-private room and eat their meals in a common dining area. These communities usually have an assortment of daily scheduled activities as well.
A registered nurse (RN) is on duty for at least eight hours of each day, seven days a week. Residents frequently have severe medical conditions with high care needs, from ventilator care and respiratory therapy and IV medications to speech, physical and occupational therapies, memory care, and end-of-life care.
Still not sure which option suits your aging loved one? Consider the benefits of a continuing-care retirement community (CCRC), such as Seven Acres and The Medallion in Houston, Texas. Such communities may offer many different types and levels of senior care—from The Medallion’s assisted living to Seven Acres’ skilled nursing care to memory support and rehabilitation services—all on the same campus. As residents’ care needs increase over time, they can move seamlessly between levels of care without having to leave the comfort and familiarity of the staff and community they call home. For families, this means there’s no need to research different communities as their loved one’s needs change. And, the family can avoid the trauma experienced by the resident for whom change is now more difficult than in their younger years. Thus, selecting such a community will provide peace of mind for older adults and their families, no matter what the future may hold.
If you would like to tour Seven Acres or The Medallion or speak with someone about your loved one’s needs, contact: