Nursing Homes vs. Assisted Living Facilities

nursing home

It can be difficult to think about placing your loved one in a long-term care facility, but many families throughout Pennsylvania face this decision every day.

There are many good nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the commonwealth; choosing the right facility for your loved one can be challenging. In most cases, choosing between a nursing home and assisted living facility comes down to the needs of your loved one. It is helpful to understand the differences, benefits, and disadvantages of nursing homes and assisted living facilities when making your choice.

First, let’s consider the overall differences between nursing homes and assisted living centers.

A nursing home is a private facility that provides accommodations, healthcare, and personal care to its residents. While most people at nursing homes are elderly, and some homes only cater to older residents, others include patients of all ages who need a place to live and receive care while rehabilitating from an illness or injury. Nursing homes are typically more focused on medical care and may also provide 24-hour supervision, meals, assistance with daily activities, and each resident’s medical needs. There are 15,183 certified nursing homes in the U.S., and there are approximately 1.1 million nursing home residents in facilities across the country. About two-thirds of nursing home residents are women.

Assisted living is meant for people who require care and help, but not typically to the same degree as nursing home patients. Many assisted living facilities offer varying levels of care depending on a resident’s needs; they will also offer 24-hour supervision, meals, help with medication, help with personal care, and social activities. Because they are more independent, people at assisted living centers typically have their own rooms or apartments and will share common areas with other residents. There are about 28,900 assisted living facilities in the U.S., with an average size of 33 beds per facility. More than 800,000 Americans reside in assisted living centers nationwide. More than half are over the age of 85, and about two-thirds are women.

Generally speaking, nursing homes are ideal for elderly people who need more medical care and supervision, while assisted living facilities are meant for people who are less dependent. Which one is right for your loved one will come down to a number of factors. Looking at the pros and cons of each can help.

Nursing Homes: Advantages & Disadvantages

There are several benefits of choosing a nursing home instead of an assisted living facility:

  • Nursing homes are regulated by the federal government, which provides some oversight for patient care and treatment.
  • Nursing homes provide 24/7 medical and personal care to patients.
  • Nursing homes have licensed medical professionals on staff, including nurses, to care for the patients.
  • Private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare may pay for some of the cost of nursing home care.

Likewise, there are several disadvantages to choosing a nursing home over an assisted living facility:

  • Nursing homes limit personal freedom (i.e. shared rooms, scheduled meals, limited freedom to leave the facility, scheduled bath times, etc.).
  • Patients have limited autonomy in a nursing home.
  • Nursing homes usually feel more like hospitals or medical facilities than homes.
  • The average cost of a nursing home is higher than some assisted living facilities.

Assisted Living: Advantages & Disadvantages

The benefits of choosing an assisted living facility over a nursing home include:

  • Residents have more privacy in an assisted living facility because they have their own residence rather than sharing a room with other residents.
  • Assisted living facilities schedule regular social activities for the residents throughout the week.
  • Assisted living facilities look and feel more like homes rather than medical facilities.
  • Residents can come and go as they please with few, if any, restrictions.
  • Some assisted care facilities cost less than the average nursing home.
  • Some Veteran's programs and long-term care insurance plans pay for some of the cost of an assisted living facility.

There are also some disadvantages of living in an assisted living facility:

  • Assisted living facilities are not regulated by the federal government.
  • Medicaid and Medicare will not pay for any of the costs of an assisted living facility.
  • Residents do not have the level of medical care or personal care that a nursing home provides.
  • Most facilities only include one meal per day compared to three regular meals in a nursing home.

What About Assisted Living or Nursing Home Abuse?

Many children and family members worry about the potential for nursing home abuse. This is a growing concern for many families in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. However, abuse is not limited to nursing homes. Residents of assisted living facilities may also be victims of abuse or neglect.

While studies of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have delivered varying results, a recent review found that 33.4% of residents reported emotional/psychological abuse, 14.1% reported physical abuse, 13.8% reported financial abuse, 11.6% reported neglect, and 1.6% reported sexual abuse. However, it is estimated that for every report of elder abuse reported to authorities, another 24 go unreported. Fear of retaliation, embarrassment, shame, cognitive or physical impairment, and dependence on the abuser are all reasons that elder abuse may go unreported.

Our Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help

Elderly people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. At the very least, they should be given proper care and companionship, whether they are in a nursing home or assisted living facility. If you believe your loved one has been abused or their medical care has been neglected in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, you need to act. If you believe they are in imminent danger, call 911 for emergency help. If you suspect or have noticed signs of abuse or neglect, contact our Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorneys for a free, confidential consultation.

At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, our elder neglect attorneys have extensive experience representing families and nursing home abuse victims throughout Pennsylvania. Our firm has secured tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. If your loved one has been abused, let our team help you. We can work to expose any abuse or mistreatment and pursue compensation for medical care, losses, and more.

Contact our Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorneys today for a free consultation at (888) 498-3023.

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