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Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or Rehab Center; Which to Choose?

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter
and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column
Published on 7/15/15, a Exclusive


Source: We define the differences in the types of senior care options and the level of care that is associated with each.

Before an individual can make a decision on which type of senior health care they need or which type of facility to choose, one must understand the differences that nursing homes, assisted living campuses, or a rehabilitation center offers. Do you need short term care, or long term care? Is your loved one near their end days and therefore would require hospice care? Each type of care has its own unique services, cost, and usually addresses a different set of circumstances.

When we think of a nursing home, sometimes we think of the stereotypical environment of beds lined up in a row all in one room, with elderly people occupying them, tended to by an army of white uniformed nurses. The modern day nursing home is so much more than that, and has transformed into a private environment of personal care with dignity.

Nursing Homes provide care that requires licensed nurses to care for and monitor patients’ health care. Assisted living facilities, by law, cannot provide these services that require licensed nurses to administer. Patients in nursing homes nowadays usually require assistance in almost every activity of daily living such as bathing, walking, grooming, and eating. Nursing Homes are heavily regulated by federal and state governments, a fact which is largely responsible for the high costs.

Someone who would be considering nursing home services for a loved one should remember this type of care is reserved for someone who has lost their mobility; might be on large doses of heavy medication; and /or might have mental issues associated with a physical ailment. Nursing home services provide round-the-clock care. Nursing home services are long term care units that coordinate a range of medical, personal, and social services to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs of people who may be chronically ill or disabled. Services also include room and board, monitoring of medication, personal care, 24 hour emergency care, and social and recreational activities.

An elderly person who still has most of their mobility, however cannot live at home on their own safely, may not need a licensed nurse to provide all the care and services to maintain an independent quality of life; however now and then they may call upon an aide to assist them with daily household chores. Each assisted living facility is licensed to administer a level services needed in maintaining a quality of life for residents. Usually assisted living residents can access additional care for physical needs on and off campus depending on that particular facility. Every assisted living facility is different in some way. A new trend in the industry is having assisted living and nursing home services under one roof; just different wings of the building. This allows for continuous care of residents when they need upgrades services during times of health difficulties.

There are a wide range of assisted living choices, from vast retirement communities to a few beds under one roof of an all-inclusive senior health care facility. Someone in search of an assisted living facility must ask themselves, how much help do they need, and how much are they willing to pay? Some assisted living facilities have been designed to mimic a resort environment, where seniors can purchase a condo or an apartment within a larger complex. On the other side of the spectrum, someone in their golden years also has the choice of a quaint setting, much of that you would find at a local bed and breakfast inn.

If a person needs rehabilitation services, they most likely are recovering from a major surgery, injury or accident. The foremost reasons why seniors access the services of a rehab center are for hip and knee replacements, and strokes. Rehabilitation centers will offer occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other therapy and counseling focused on restoring mobility and activities of daily living. Rehabilitation care is the most expensive and involved. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the injury or surgery. Most rehabilitation situations fall under short term care.

The newest of facilities in senior care are combining all three services under one roof. Having all of these facilities on one campus allows for patients to transition from service to service with ease and peace of mind. Facilities that offer all these divisions of care have been able to increase their volume of patients because of the continuity of care. Facilities that offer nursing home, assisted living, and rehabilitation are masters of customer service and patient care. They must balance the continued care between services for patients; they must have a well-versed understanding of the documentation and regulations associated with each type of care. An example of such a facility is the Manawa Community Living Center, in Manawa, Wisconsin.

Regardless of the type of facility you choose, always do your research on the facility. Don’t be afraid to ask them the hard questions; how did they rank in their CMS rating, or how did they score on the last state inspection? Remember you are the consumer and patient, and you have to feel comfortable with putting your life and/or the life of your loved one in their hands.


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