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Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Updated on October 16, 2016

When Those We Care About Begin Having Difficulty Living Alone, It is Time to Consider Other Options


When a Loved One Ages...

Having an elderly loved one can be difficult at times, especially if they live on their own. The fear of them falling, hurting themselves or winding up in an emergency situation with no help around can be extremely stressful on loved ones.

If you happen to find yourself in the position where you think you need to place your parent or loved one in a safer environment that still gives them the freedom they desire, you should consider an assisted living facility.

What is an Assisted Living Facility?

Assisted living facilities offer residents a safe environment to live where they can have independence and peace of mind, knowing that help is available if they need it.

At these facilities, staff is on call 24 hours a day to help with basic activities of daily life, such as bathing, grooming, and getting dressed. Medication assistance is available for residents who need help remembering to take their medications, and recreational activities are available to help them socialize and stay active.

Some assisted living facilities are small, while others are designed as large residential retirement communities. They are both however designed to offer a home-like atmosphere that offers residents as much freedom as possible.

How to Choose a Nursing Home by U.S. News and World Report

What Level of Care Do Assisted Living Facilities Provide?

Assisted living facilities provide a basic level of care for senior citizens who struggle to complete daily tasks at home.

While they don't offer complex medical care, most assisted living facilities do offer medication dispension to residents who need it.

The staff at these centers are trained to help residents with daily activities such as taking a bath, getting dressed, completing chores and grooming themselves.

Who Should Consider an Assisted Living Facility?

If you have a loved one who is elderly and lives alone, an assisted living facility may be a better environment for them.

Assisted living facilities are not designed for those with serious difficulties with day to day activities, or those with serious health issues, but rather for individuals who have reached an old age, live alone, and can benefit from the assistance of others and the ability to be more social.

While these facilities differ from nursing homes in that they don't offer complex medical services for those with severe illnesses or other complications, they are great alternatives for senior citizens who need a little help with daily activities.

The socialization this communities provide is a huge benefit. High quality assisted living facilities typically provide scheduled recreational activities, shopping trips, movies, and other excursions to encourage activity and socialization.

Designed for elderly persons who are having difficulty living life to the fullest in their own home, assisted living facilities are designed to be a safer home where help is always available.

Finding the Best Assisted Living Facility

What is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is residential care for individuals who are having trouble coping with certain parts of their daily life.

Daily life activities can include showering, cooking, eating, cleaning, getting around the house, and more. The inability to complete such tasks can be devastating to an individual and nursing homes aim to make life easier for them.

Typical residents of nursing homes include the elderly, as well as individuals with physical disabilities or mental illnesses.

There are different types of nursing homes that provide patients with different amounts of freedom depending on their particular needs.

Nursing homes are typically staffed by an administrative team, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and support personnel.

Nursing homes provide patients with room and board, medication management, help with personal care (bathing, getting dressed, eating, etc.), provide social and recreational activities, and are there for 24/7 emergency medical support.

Nursing homes are a better fit for those who struggle significantly with immobility or health issues compared to assisted living facilities, but they also don't provide as much freedom as assisted living facilities.

For Those with Serious Medical Conditions, Nursing Homes are a Better Option


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Benefits of Nursing Homes

Regained Independence- Nursing homes give patients back their independence. Although many people feel like entering a nursing home means relinquishing their independence, they often find it is quite the opposite. Once someone enters a nursing home and starts enjoying life again, they realize they were living in a prison at home- unable to complete their day to day tasks.

Help When You Need It- A huge benefit of a nursing home is that they have trained staff on-call round the clock. That means that patients have the peace of mind of knowing that they will have the help they need at the time they need it. Falling is one of the biggest causes of injury among the elderly, and as people get old, their bones get brittle and break easier. Having people around decreases one's risk of falling, therefor decreasing their risk of breaking a bone.

Increased Social Activity- Not only do nursing homes provide recreational activities that wouldn't be available to patients at home, but they also allow for increased social interaction. Many of those who enter nursing homes have lost their husband or wife, and live alone, rarely getting out of the house. Being in the nursing home gives them an opportunity to interact with people their age which can increase mood and overall well-being.

Monitored Health and Nutrition- Being in a nursing home means having one's physical health, mental health, weight and nutrition monitored at all times. This keeps people feeling healthy, fit and happy. Nursing homes monitor medication to ensure that patients are taking their meds properly, they serve healthy meals to make sure the patients are getting all the necessary nutrients and they have doctors on staff to deal with any medical issues.

We Can't Stay Young Forever, Though We May Try


How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility or a Nursing Home

Choosing an assisted living facility or a nursing home can be a very difficult decision.

If you are choosing on behalf of a loved one, you want to make sure that the facility is well staffed, clean, and as comfortable as possible.

A good assisted living facility will offer structure and recreation for their residents to help keep them active and help them socialize with other members of the community.

Typical recreational activities found at both nursing homes and assited living facilities include board games, shopping trips and movie nights, karaoke, concerts and more. It is also common for them to offer residents a fitness center, an indoor or outdoor pool, transportation, laundry services, and even hair care services.

A high quality nursing home will offer recreational activities, medical support, help with personal care and other daily necessities that your loved one struggles with currently. You want to be able to trust the staff and feel comfortable in the facility before making any final decisions.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      They can be very good but they can also be a big mistake for elderly with mental disorders; they should always be put in special homes for this. My mom had a horrible few last years and I wish I knew then what I do now. It is indeed good to have these homes though for ones who cannot care for themselves but need a little aid.

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 3 years ago from Pune( India)


      I appreciate your writing and articles , mostly written on social issues.

      One should highlight such issues for awareness in community.

      i am an Indian, in our country rising middle class also prefer separate family instead joint family. In cities when couple works or employed then they can not spare time to look after elderly people in family so such nursing homes or caretakers is only solution to solve this issue.

      pramod gokhale

    • shraddhachawla profile image

      Metreye 3 years ago

      Diseases can strike any of us at whatever age, though elderly and children being more vulnerable. Hospital and nursing home stay is associated with a risk of hospital acquired infections. This hub is very useful for those requiring long term care to recuperate from their ailment. Good work Kathleen.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      This information should be helpful to many as they prepare for the inevitable. Many people are unaware of the options available to them and the different services offered.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good information, something we will all have to know at one point in our lives.