The Differences Between Nursing Homes And Assisted Living Facilities



With more than 50 percent of Payson’s population being 55 and older, choosing a care facility for an aging parent or a loved one is a situation that many in our community will most likely face.

Assisted living, nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities) and other types of senior care all have their benefits and drawbacks. The goal is to find the level of care that meets your loved one’s needs and will continue to do so for quite some time. The options can be confusing so a basic understanding of the levels of care may provide you with better insight.

Assisted living provides daily custodial care to residents who need help with a few activities of daily living, but foster an atmosphere of independence and autonomy. Providers of custodial care are not licensed to provide medical care and do not administer medications. Residents at assisted living facilities don’t require constant or regular on-site medical attention. Assisted living homes range in size from small, home-like facilities to large communities or apartments. If your loved one has started to struggle with some aspects of daily care or maintenance, an assisted living facility could be a great choice. Assisted living facilities often offer a wide variety of social activities and offsite excursions. Payson offers an assisted living community as well as several group homes that fall under this category.

Skilled nursing homes provide an extra level of attention by offering medical care and nursing oversight 24 hours a day. The care your loved one will receive in a skilled nursing facility will be both custodial and medical in nature so you can rest assured he or she is receiving all the help he or she needs. Seniors who need a great deal of help with activities of daily living, have cognitive impairment or suffer from debilitating medical problems, often need the level of care provided in skilled nursing facilities. These residents are regularly monitored checking blood pressure, oxygen levels, and temperature and hydration levels throughout the day.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the vast majority of skilled nursing facilities in the U.S. are registered to accept residents with Medicare, Medicaid or both. This is important because the cost of nursing homes is typically higher than the cost of assisted living, but is more often subsidized by these government programs because of its emphasis on medical care. Help with medication dispersal, access to physical and occupational therapists, healthy meals, and a variety of other amenities make skilled nursing homes a virtual one-stop-shop for residents who might otherwise forgo such services on their own. Skilled nursing options are also available in Payson.

Home care is the largest subsection of senior housing in the nation. More than 7 million people rely on private caregivers to provide them with services. Home care can be expensive depending upon how many hours a day the caregiver spends with the senior. Those who choose home care as their option often value relationships with family members over more social environments. There are several choices of home care both medical and non-medical in Payson.

It is important to get the right level of care for your loved one. Lack of proper care can lead to serious illness and hospitalization. If the senior citizen is in a position where they are frequently dehydrated, developing pressure sores, receiving insufficient wound care, miss taking medications or have inadequate diabetes care, you need to reconsider the services they are receiving and start looking at other options.

Most public long-term care (LTC) programs, such as Medicaid, cover custodial care as long as it is provided within a skilled nursing facility; however, in Arizona, assisted living homes can apply to accept persons that qualify for Arizona Long Term Care (ALTC). Custodial care at home is typically covered only under long term care insurance, not by Medicaid. Medicare, on the other hand, covers only medically necessary, skilled care and will cover at-home custodial care only if it is provided in conjunction with skilled care.

To learn more about Arizona Long Term Care, how to apply, and how to qualify you can attend a free lecture by JacksonWhite Elder Law Attorneys at Payson Care Center from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 8. For more information about this lecture, please contact Krystal at (928) 970-1835.

Christy VanderMolen,

health care services liaison,

Payson Care Center


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