Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing: Which is Best for You?

Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing: Which is Best for You?

Mike's Blog

As a Senior Living Advisor and dementia specialist (Mike McClernon, 516-254-9481), I'm frequently asked about the different types of Senior Living communities. I always recommend that their elderly loved ones be placed in a community that provides the support they need based on their current condition and challenges.

For example, many older people can't live independently anymore and require support with their basic needs. We call these needs the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which include everyday tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and taking medications. Help with ADLs is available in both Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing, which are two types of Senior Living Communities.

Another critical factor in determining the most appropriate community is the level of medical care required by your loved one. Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing offer different levels of medical care, which can make deciding between the two even more confusing.

Let's look at what's available in both communities to help you make an informed choice.

What are Assisted Living Communities?

Assisted Living is an excellent choice for people who can no longer live independently. In most cases, residents can no longer care for themselves due to age or physical limitations as opposed to illness or injury.

Residences are typically private or semi-private apartment-style units with a living room, dining area, private bathroom, and small kitchen. People in Assisted Living can opt to prepare their own meals, but most communities have a centralized dining hall where residents can share meals communally. Meals available in the dining hall are prepared by chefs who focus on nutrition. Menus are completely customizable to conform to all food preferences and dietary or religious requirements.

Although most Assisted Living communities provide full-time support with ADLs, residents are encouraged to live as independently as possible. They're usually able to visit common areas to socialize with other residents and participate in a wide range of life-enriching activities, hobbies, and interests. Many communities also offer transportation services so residents can attend offsite church services, shopping, medical appointments, and more.

Assisted Living residents usually don't have medically intensive needs that require around-the-clock nursing. However, some Assisted Living communities have registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) on call, although not necessarily on-site at all times. Home health agencies and hospice care are usually able to provide services to residents who require them.

What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled Nursing is often a better choice for residents with complex medical conditions requiring specialized care or daily therapy services from on-site medical professionals. Stays in Skilled Nursing are usually temporary but can sometimes last more than three months. A small portion of people stays there permanently.

People placed into Skilled Nursing typically:

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

The key focus in Skilled Nursing is to provide physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation services so the person can return to their previous independent lifestyle, whether at home or in Assisted Living.

If the person requires specialized care due to declining cognitive function, they may be discharged into a Memory Care community. Memory Care provides ongoing support for people with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Staff in Assisted Living also may recommend a resident be placed in Memory Care if a resident shows signs of cognitive impairment.

People in Skilled Nursing usually stay in a semi-private room, eat meals together in a large dining room, and participate in 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.

Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing: Which is Best for You?

In summary, Assisted Living communities strive to help people feel at home. They provide support with ADLs as needed but offer less medical care. Residents are encouraged to live as independently as possible and be engaged with others during their vintage years.

Skilled Nursing is a better choice 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 feel more institutional in nature. However, the level of medically-intensive care is more readily available in Assisted Living.

The decision of where your loved one will stay is usually determined by their individual care requirements, along with input from their primary health team. Once you've chosen between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing, reach out to a Senior Living Advisor to help your family find the best-fit community for your loved one's needs, interests, and lifestyle.

No-cost help finding Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing on Long Island

Finding an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing community where your loved one will get the care they need to feel happy, fulfilled, and safe can be overwhelming. When looking for the right community for your elderly relatives on Long Island, contact Mike McClernon of Assisted Living Locators.

Mike has collaborated with hundreds of families just like yours to help find the most appropriate Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing community for their older relatives. He will ensure that you have all the information you need to decide where your loved ones will thrive and be well-cared for during their vintage years or while recovering from a medical event, surgery, or injury.

Contact Mike today at 516-254-9481 or mikem@assistedlivinglocators.com to explore Senior Living Community options for the older person in your life. His phone is always on!