Nursing home is often a term that is used to describe various senior living options but can lead to confusion. In the past, nursing homes were the primary form of senior living. However, over the years various forms have come about. Assisted living communities and nursing home differ significantly.
Assisted living (AL) provides a greater level of care than independent living but less than that of a nursing home. Assisted refers to the residents needing a hand when it comes to one or more activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, toileting, eating and transferring. The healthcare nature of assisted living means there is a nurse on site at all times to provide oversight. Many communities will offer medication management, diabetes management, etc. as ala carte options. In most cases the assisted living portion of a building is attached or commingled with the independent living. This allows for ease of move should an individual need greater care and assistance with ADLs.
Nursing home refers to skilled nursing which is a short term rehabilitation facility for those recovering from surgery or injury. Nursing homes will provide the greatest level of care. While nursing homes are generally utilized for short term stays, there are options to extend the stay. However, nursing homes tend to be the most expensive when it comes to out of pocket expense. The first 20 days within a nursing home are covered entirely by Medicare. This includes stay as well as various therapies provided. Patients within nursing homes can receive physical, occupational and speech therapy while living in a nursing home. Expenses on days 20 through 100 are typically covered by Medicare at a rate of 80%. The remaining 20% may be a supplemental plan or private pay. Beyond the 100 days, nursing homes become private pay options similar to assisted living communities.