As life expectancy continues to rise, so does the need for professional assistance. According to a recent report, the average elderly person (65 and up) has a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care in the future. More often than not, the person in need does not make the decision to ask for assistance alone. Because most elderly people move in with their families when they can no longer care for themselves, the primary caregiver is often an adult son or daughter. |
When a family can no longer provide adequate medical, physical, or emotional assistance to an elderly loved one, they must consider a residential facility. These institutions provide personal and nursing care for people with illnesses that cannot be treated at home. On average, an elderly person will spend about three years of their life at either nursing homes or assisted living facilities (ALFs). Let us take a moment to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both options.
Assisted Living Facilities
A recent estimate put the number of residents in US assisted living settings at 735,000. Although they are widely considered an alternative to nursing homes, ALFs offer very different levels of care. Generally speaking, they are designed to treat people who do not require round-the-clock medical attention. As such, residents are often able to stay in their own apartments and have a greater level of independence and privacy. That said, shared services, such as housekeeping, laundry, and meal services, are almost always included in the monthly fee.
The main benefit of assisted living - and the reason it's more popular than ever - is the lower price. Compared to a dedicated nursing facility, residents are only charged about half the monthly rate. The reason? Because residents are more able-bodied and have fewer chronic health problems, they require less medical attention. This helps the institution save money on staff and medical supplies. Savings that are then passed along to guests in the form of lower fees.
Easily the most popular option, about 1.3 million elderly Americans currently reside in nursing institutions. Unlike ALFs, these facilities provide non-stop medical attention and care to all residents. No matter their health issues, elderly individuals receive the treatment they need when they need it. By comparison, assisted living centers are not designed to treat serious medical conditions. They also do not offer nearly as many daily activities as skilled nursing facilities.
As we mentioned, however, the costs can be considerable. A person staying in a private room at a top-notch establishment could easily receive a monthly bill in excess of $6,000. Fortunately, most folks are not forced to pay these fees out of their own pockets. In fact, about 70 percent of residents rely on Medicaid to pay for their stay.
Contrary to popular belief, the aforementioned institutions are not in direct competition with each other. The different levels of care they offer means that they appeal to residents with different physical, mental, and emotional needs.
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