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What's the Difference Between Types of Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities?

Atmosphere, supervision and levels of assistance, services and staffing vary widely among facilities.

If you hear long-term care facility and automatically think nursing home, it's not surprising. However, long-term care encompasses a spectrum of options and a progression of choices.

Early on, the "facility" where an older adult receives treatments, help with medications or personal care is often his or her home. Nursing homes represent a traditional solution when home care is no longer enough.


Alternatives such as assisted living and continuing care retirement communities attract many older residents, including some who are still healthy and want to remain active. For seniors who crave a more family-like atmosphere, out-of-the box options like adult foster homes exist. Of course, payment is a major limiting factor in long-term care choices. For many families, assisted living facilities and CCRCs are prohibitively expensive.


"It's usually not 'Mom's fine' and then the next day she needs to go to a nursing home," says Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. "It's a continuum." Long-term care options fluctuate as people develop mobility issues or chronic conditions gradually worsen.


Retirement living/independent living. Independent or retirement living focuses on a self-sufficient lifestyle for seniors. These residences might be part of self-contained retirement communities or high-rise apartment complexes, among other models. Costs vary widely based on location, services (like housekeeping) and activities offered. Wellness centers may be available on-site.


Assisted living. Assisted living facilities offer services such as medication management and light personal care within a supervised setting. Housekeeping, prepared meals and assistance with daily personal care are available. Assisted living is known for its focus on group and individual activities and efforts by staff to prevent residents from feeling isolated.


Continuing care retirement community. CCRCs offer a tiered approach for aging adults. Typically, residents move into single-family apartments or condominiums designed for independent, healthy adults. As their needs change, they can transition to on-site assisted living or nursing home facilities. Continuing retirement care communities represent a significant financial investment, with hefty upfront entrance fees and monthly charges.


Nursing homes. Nursing homes provide medical and personal care services beyond what's available in assisted living. Nursing care, 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living and three daily meals are standard. Most nursing home residents have chronic physical or mental health conditions, or both. Nursing home residents can receive prescribed treatment and personal care as needed.


Skilled nursing facilities. The terms nursing home and skilled nursing facility are often used interchangeably, because the types of care involved often overlap, but they aren't identical. Skilled nursing facilities are more likely to have a consistent presence of nurses or physicians and offer rehabilitation services such as occupational, physical and speech therapy. SNFs and nursing homes fall under different sets of regulations.


St George, Utah has many options to choose from. With the growing community of seniors many of these facilities and home are getting crowded and are slightly competitive to get into. Look into the contracts, change of care fees and visitation before you decide which option is best. Personal touch is very important. Long term care in St George, Utah should be affordable for those who want the best for their loved one.

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