Assisted living nurse

Assisted Living Facility vs. Skilled Nursing

When it comes time to seek support in daily living activities, choosing the right type of facility is essential. But knowing which facility to use isn’t always easy to understand. Depending on the level of care you or your loved one requires, you may wonder if you need skilled nursing or an assisted living facility.   

The difference between assisted living facilities (ALF) and skilled nursing (SNF) is the level of care they provide. Though both are long-term care options, assisted living is best for those who need minor assistance with daily activities, while skilled nursing provides constant care.

Choosing the right environment and level of care can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure what you are looking for. In this article, you’ll find a breakdown of what assisted living and skilled nursing care, so that you can make the best choice for your needs. 

What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing?

When it comes to long-term care, there are various options depending on the resident’s medical needs. 

As a general rule, assisted living facilities are considered residential environments with special amenities geared toward older residents, while skilled nursing facilities are medical environments that provide long-term care nursing care. 

While it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart, there are some key differences between the two. The three main distinctions between assisted living and skilled nursing are:

  • Level of care
  • Cost
  • Length of stay

There are some cases in which assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities may overlap. However, for the most part, by comparing these three factors, you should be able to tell the two apart and figure out which would work best for your situation.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities provide residential space for those who need a bit more extra help with everyday activities. These facilities come in all shapes and sizes. However, for the most part, residents often live in individual apartments with shared community spaces such as a dining hall, fitness center, or courtyard.

The expected length of stay in assisted living facilities is about two years or longer. These facilities often provide residents with help with daily activities such as laundry, bathing, housekeeping, and meal preparation. They also generally offer recreational activities to help maintain social connection, physical activity, and creative expression. 

In terms of medical care, residents generally have access to various levels of care depending on their needs. However, consistent, round-the-clock care isn’t provided in these environments. 

For example, an assisted living facility may provide help with taking medications or scheduling doctor appointments, but that doesn’t provide services such as physical therapy or constant care for those with chronic illness. If a resident is living in an assisted living facility, the community does partner with agencies that provide Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy with on-site access to these services.

What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing facilities, also sometimes known as nursing homes, are transitional health or medical rehabilitation centers that provide long-term care for residents that require round-the-clock medical care. 

The main goal of this type of facility is to help the patient regain their ability to do daily activities after an accident, illness, or surgery. The length of stay can vary depending on the patient’s medical needs but is generally less than two years. 

In a skilled nursing facility, patients typically share rooms or have individual rooms with a shared bathroom. There are usually common spaces where residents can socialize, eat meals, and participate in activities. Any type of physical activity is usually overseen by a physical therapist whose main focus is to restore function and prevent further injury. 

What is the Difference in Cost Between Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living?

According to America Health Care Association, the cost of staying in a skilled nursing facility is nearly double the cost of assisted living. 

The majority of assisted living residents also use some form of private pay to cover the cost. Medicare does offer some coverage for those in skilled nursing facilities who are there to recover from a health condition, illness, or surgery. However, that coverage typically doesn’t extend beyond 20 days.

For residents paying out of pocket, the annual cost of a private room in a skilled nursing facility is roughly $105,850, while assisted living costs $51,600 a year. These costs will vary depending on where you live and the amenities a person is looking for in a facility.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose assisted living or skilled nursing ultimately depends on the level of medical care required and how long you expect the stay to last. 

It’s best to keep in mind that many skilled nursing facilities are meant for those who need constant care, while assisted living is for generally healthy adults who just need a bit of extra help with daily activities. 

At We Care Senior Solutions, we exist to help families find the best facility for their Senior Care needs. If you or your loved one needs assistance, please contact us via our website.

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