Nursing Homes and Assisted Living For Seniors

Growing older is a part of life, and living as a senior citizen is often called the “golden years,” and in the right living conditions, this stage of life can be enjoyable and happy. Senior citizens have various needs, however, and based on them, an elderly individual may need nursing home staff or assisted living options, or simple home care, to keep life safe and comfortable for years to come.

Nursing Homes

As of 2012, there were a total of around 22,200 assisted living and nursing home communities in the United States, and there may be even more now. They serve an essential function: helping the elderly with everyday chores and activities, close access to medical care and checkups, and giving them company in the community. These facilities can range in size from just 10 beds to over 100, and by 2010, the total assisted living facility beds reached 1.2 million, a climb from the 1 million in 2007. The decision of whether or not to move an elderly family member to such a home is one to make after consideration, such as whether the senior citizen needs the help of nursing home staff and medical care, or whether the senior citizen is still self-sufficient at home and is unwilling to leave his/her community of friends there.

A senior citizen may or may not need nursing home staff to satisfy all of his/her needs. Before moving an elderly parent or aunt or uncle to a home, a relative must consider whether the elderly one will need such a move, and whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Private homes can be satisfactory places for care, if, according to Senior Advisor, an agency can provide adequate in-home care. Therapists and others can also visit as needed, a few times a week, for a few hours at a time. This can be more expensive than a nursing home, but the senior may not want to move out of his/her current community, or such a nursing home may be too far away. Immediate family may also have more difficulty visiting the senior at a faraway nursing home than the senior’s current place of residence. If the costs can be handled, assistance in daily tasks, companionship, and physical and mental therapy can be provided by professionals, especially if younger family members cannot consistently handle these duties themselves.

Nursing home staff can help if assisted living at home is no longer a viable option. A nursing home’s specific services will vary, but in general, many medical services are provided, even surgery, and the staff can assist with everyday chores and therapy of all kinds. This can also be a strong option for elderly couples where one person needs more medical care than the other. Memory care can also be provided at such a place, and even reduce the odds of, or slow down the progression of, memory loss such as dementia. A study from 2008, for example, found that seniors who had the highest level of social integration had half the rate of memory loss as those with less social contact. Being physically active can also reduce the rates of loneliness of those in their 70s and 80s from 22.6% to 12.2% (based on averages of subjects studied), another recent study showed.

Level of care needed is the ultimate factor of whether nursing home staff or visiting professionals are the best option for an elderly citizen. Often, according to Senior Advisor, home care aid could cost anywhere from $20 to $160 per day, since such care is hour-based. By contrast, assisted living care can run $119 per day, or about $43,000 per year, and a staying at a senior center with skilled nursing home staff can cost $220 per day, or 80,000 for the year. Seniors with minimal assistance needs could save a lot of money with simple at-home care, while those with more advanced needs could take advantage of a nursing home’s or assisted living facility’s many amenities.

After considering factors such as cost, ease of visiting for family members, and specific medical needs, a family member can determine when or if an elderly relative is ready to be moved into a home.

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