Happy senior couple laughing inside their apartment

Which is Right for Me – a Nursing Home or Assisted Living?

When you are caring for an aging loved one, circumstances can vary from day to day. As the needs of your loved one change, you may find yourself exploring avenues for additional support. The first step is often to bring outside assistance into the home or to find resources that allow your loved one to remain independent without having to drive a car or run errands alone.

When health or safety become an issue, it is important to understand your options. Researching different facilities that may meet the needs of your loved one, such as a nursing home or assisted living, can be overwhelming and confusing. With so many possibilities, it is crucial to clearly identify what needs your loved one has, what financial coverage they have available and what type of environment they want most.

Which Do I Need – a Nursing Home or Assisted Living?

The terms “nursing home” and “assisted living facility” are often used interchangeably, however, they are actually two very different types of facilities that meet very different needs. As you investigate what option may be best for your loved one, it is important to understand the differences between these two:

Nursing Homes

A nursing home provides the highest possible level of care outside of a hospital setting. Nursing homes are also known as skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and often house patients following a hospital stay or a surgery. Residents at nursing homes may have complex conditions and require a high level of monitoring and assistance in their daily routines. They receive 24-hour care and care plans are supervised by a licensed physician. An SNF or nursing home is the right choice for an elderly person who has medical needs that require full-time nursing care.

Assisted Living

Many seniors who choose an assisted living community are largely independent, but may require some assistance with a few daily tasks. In assisted living, there are some medical services and residents can receive help with diet and exercise programs. A licensed nurse completes regular assessments of each resident and access to health professionals, including dentists, chiropractors and geriatricians are offered on-site.

Assisted living facilities offer four levels of care, ranging from level one where residents are almost entirely independent, to level four, where residents require more monitoring and assistance.

Does Medicare Pay for a Nursing Home or Assisted Living?

Covering the cost of care at any senior care focused facility is a top concern for family members and loved ones. The 2020 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth reported the national median cost of assisted living care is $4,300 per month, with most families spending up to $70,000 per year in senior living costs. In light of these numbers, many people wonder what does Medicare cover for assisted living? And if they are utilizing private pay, they may wonder which is cheaper, a nursing home or assisted living? Here are some fast facts about covering the cost of a nursing home or assisted living:

  • Medicare pays for the entire cost of care for up to 20 days at an SNF (and up to 80 percent of the cost up to 80 more days) following an inpatient hospital stay.
  • Medicare does not cover any cost for assisted living.
  • Medicare does not cover long-term care in a nursing home; most nursing home residents utilize private pay or long-term care insurance to cover the cost.
  • Many states offer Medicaid beneficiaries some degree of financial assistance with assisted living costs; if a state does not help with costs, they likely offer coverage for some home and community-based services that can help delay the move to a long-term care facility.

Planning for the Future

When planning ahead for your loved one’s current and future needs, it is often helpful to identify facilities that offer a range of care levels, rather than only focusing on choosing between a nursing home or assisted living. At Carnegie Village, we have independent living, memory care, assisted living and rehabilitation care all located at one campus in Belton, Missouri. This allows our care teams to meet the needs of residents at all different stages as their health situations evolve. Call us today at 816-331-7848 to schedule a consultation.