Choosing Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Communities

Choosing Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Communities

When it comes choosing a Senior Living community for an elderly loved one, you want to ensure they’re placed in a situation that meets their specific needs.

Two types of senior communities, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing, are quite similar in that they both offer a diverse set of supportive services for people who can no longer meet their own basic needs independently.

Many of these basic needs fall under the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs include such everyday tasks as bathing, grooming, dressing, and taking medications.

Residents in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing get help with ADLs, but there is one significant difference between the two communities: the level of medical care provided. In Assisted Living, residents receive support with ADLs but can still handle most other activities independently. However, people in Skilled Nursing communities get help with ADLs along with ongoing nursing care.

Many families aren't sure where to place an elderly loved one when they need help with ADLs over the long term. I thought an article explaining the differences between the two might help.

What are Assisted Living communities?

Assisted Living communities provide full-time care to older adults who can no longer live on their own. In most cases, placement into Assisted Living is a result of not being able to care for themselves due to age or physical limitations as opposed to illness or injury.

Residents live in private or semi-private apartment-style units that usually have a living room, dining area, private bathroom, and small kitchen. Residents may prepare their own meals, but Assisted Living communities often feature a centralized dining hall where residents can share meals communally. Menus feature items that focus on nutrition and are completely customizable to conform to all food preferences and dietary or religious requirements.

Most communities include large common areas where residents can socialize. There is also a wide range of life-enriching activities to choose from so everyone can pursue a hobby or interest they enjoy the most. Many communities also offer transportation services so residents can attend offsite church services, shopping, medical appointments, and more.

Although many Assisted Living communities provide full-time support with ADLs to help residents, living as independently as possible is also encouraged. Most residents don't have medically intensive needs that limit participation in the community. Some communities have registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) on call, although there might not be one in the community all the time. Home health agencies and hospice care are usually able to provide services to residents who require them.

What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled Nursing communities are distinct from Assisted Living because they provide around the clock specialized medical care and daily therapy services. Placement into Skilled Nursing is usually temporary but stays that last longer than three months are common. A small portion of residents may stay there permanently.

People who require stays in Skilled Nursing often have complex medical conditions requiring specialized care from on-site medical professionals. People in Skilled Nursing typically:

  • Have just been discharged from the hospital
  • Need care after surgery
  • Are recovering from a severe physical injury
  • Are recovering from a heart attack, stroke, or another significant health event

Similar to Assisted Living, help with ADLs is available in Skilled Nursing. However, its key focus is to provide physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation services so the person can return to their previous independent lifestyle.

Residents usually stay in a semi-private room, eat meals together in a large dining room, and participate in fun activities in a large common area. Residents who are too ill or incapacitated to attend may eat their meals and enjoy pursuits and pastimes in their room.

Unlike Assisted Living, where there generally isn't 24-hour on-site medical care available, Skilled Nursing often has an LPN on duty around the clock. Most communities also have full-time RNs and nursing assistants on-site.

Available Memory Care services

Many Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing communities also have Memory Care units within the facility. These specialized communities are designed to provide care to people with cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

In most cases, Memory Care residences don't have kitchens to avoid mishaps. They also feature advanced security measures to prevent wandering. The décor, meals, and activities are all geared toward cognitive stimulation. Help with ADLs is also available in Memory Care.

If someone in Memory Care requires complex medical treatment, they’re often able to access services in Skilled Nursing. However, it’s rare – and usually unnecessary – for Memory Care residents to move to Assisted Living since the same assistive services are available in both communities.

Choosing Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing

In summary, Assisted Living communities encourage residents to live independently. They provide support with ADLs as needed but offer less medical care. Assisted Living residences are designed for the person to feel at home and be engaged with others during their vintage years.

Skilled Nursing is better for people with complex or chronic medical needs, including permanent disabilities, severe pain, or those who are recovering from surgery, illness, or injury. Skilled Nursing residences are less home-like and more institutional in nature. However, the level of medically intensive care is higher than in Assisted Living.

Determining where your loved one will stay is usually determined by their individual care needs, along with input from their primary health team. Once the choice between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing is made, reach out to a Senior Living Advisor to help your family find the best-fit community for your loved one's needs.

No-cost help finding quality Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing in Northeast Florida

Placement into an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing community is one of the best options for ensuring your loved one receives the best care possible. However, many families find navigating the world of care communities daunting and confusing, especially if they're doing it alone or for the first time.

That's why families looking for Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one's needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you'll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.

Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or to find the best Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!

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