Nursing Home Or Assisted Living?

“Can you help us find a nursing home?”  

We are asked this quite often by sincere folk who believe a nursing home is the only option available to them.  Our answer is, “Yes, but are you sure your loved one needs a nursing home? Or might an assisted living be more appropriate?”

There are usually two factors that will determine whether someone can live in a nursing home or in an assisted living: care needs and finances.  But even before addressing those issues, it’s important for us to consider what type of environment the loved one WANTS to live in. Of course, living at home is the most preferred option, but chances are that if we are talking, that option has already been ruled out.  Since most people never want to live in a nursing home (even though many nursing homes are a far cry better than they were just a few years ago), the question really is, “Will the care needs of my loved one allow them to live in an assisted living, and do they have the finances to afford it?”

Most people are pleasantly surprised to learn that Virginia allows assisted living communities to provide a very high level of care, so much so that chances are your loved one may never have to go into a nursing home for long term care.  In our experience, most folks who move into an assisted living never need to move into a nursing home except for short term rehabilitative services, which usually occur right after a hospital stay and are covered by Medicare. That’s because assisted living communities can manage their resident’s medication, help with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, and transfer needs.  All in an environment that most people vastly prefer to a nursing home environment, and for almost half the cost!

This leads to the second factor to consider, finances.  Simply put, nursing homes are usually twice as expensive as assisted living communities.  Room and care costs at nursing homes run around $9,000 per month, whereas assisted livings are closer to $4,500 (with a range of $1,500 to $8,000).  It’s easy to see why people prefer assisted livings to nursing homes for financial reasons.  Keep in mind that assisted living costs are paid for with private funds.  Insurance does not pay for assisted living costs unless there is a Long-Term Care policy.  Long term care in nursing homes are also paid for with private funds and Long-Term care insurance. When the money runs out families need to apply for Medicaid in order to pay for long term care in a nursing home.  Medicaid will not pay for high level care in assisted living communities.

Simply put, nursing homes are expensive and most people do not want to live in them.  And while assisted living communities are not cheap, they are certainly cheaper than nursing homes, and, importantly, their environment is much nicer.  In addition, assisted living communities usually provide all the care that will be needed through end of life.

Give us a call to discuss your loved one’s specific situation.  Knowing what the options actually are is the first step in making an informed choice.

About the author
Scott Ogburn

MEd, MDiv, CSA

CarePatrol of Richmond, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg and Newport News

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