What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing?
You may be at a point in your life when you are noticing that your aging parents need a little help. You might be helping out with whatever they need – shopping, cleaning, or driving them to appointments. If you have the time, caregiving for loved ones can be incredibly rewarding. But you may be wondering at what point your support may not be enough. What will you do when your loved ones require more extensive support to manage daily life?
“Now is the time to research your care options,” according to Grace Ferri, United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s chief marketing officer. “Think ahead, because it’s often difficult to make good decisions when there’s a crisis. If you become more knowledgeable now, it will be easier for you to make an informed choice when the time comes.”
The good news is, there are a lot of choices! On the flip side, it can be overwhelming to consider all of them. So, we asked Ms. Ferri to explain the differences between two of the most common residential care settings for older adults: assisted living and skilled nursing. Fortunately, we have both types of care on United Hebrew’s campus.
Q. What is offered in an assisted living community?
Ferri: As the name implies, assisted living facilities offer help to residents in their activities of daily living (we call these “ADLs”). People live independently in residential settings that feel like home, while receiving only those daily supports as needed. So, your mom or dad might be able to take care of themselves most of the time, but they might need help with ADLs such as cleaning, laundry, cooking, bathing, managing their medications, and getting to the doctor. In assisted living communities, there are common dining and recreation areas for socializing. Most facilities offer a robust calendar of activities, ranging from fitness classes, to cultural programs, musical entertainment, and spiritual offerings.
Q. Are there medical professionals on staff at assisted living facilities?
Ferri: Yes. At our Willow Towers Assisted Living community, for example, we have a full-time Registered Nurse on site, with 24-hour licensed nursing coverage. We’re also licensed as an assisted living residence with dual certifications for Enhanced Assisted Living for individuals with extra health needs and Special Needs Assisted Living, which means we can support people with dementia. So, we can provide a full spectrum of clinical support.
Q. How is skilled nursing different?
Ferri: Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, provide a much higher level of medical care than assisted living communities — the highest level outside of hospitals. Some older adults move to a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay because of a health event or a surgical procedure. Their stay may be temporary, with a goal of rehabilitation and a return to assisted living or back home. Others move in permanently when their medical needs become acute due to aging or illness. Skilled nursing facilities deliver 24-hour care to people who have complex medical conditions and need hands-on assistance and health monitoring. This type of care goes beyond those activities of daily life.
Q. Do nursing homes offer activities, too?
Ferri: Typically, yes! At United Hebrew’s skilled nursing facility, our residents have a range of activities help to stimulate their minds and engage them each other, our staff, and their families. Arts and crafts, cooking, musical entertainment, friendly pet visits, and faith-based activities are just some of their choices. These activities are designed to help make residents feel connected, happy, and at home.
Q. How can families make the right decision about which care option is right for them?
Ferri: The right decision is never one-size-fits all! Your family physician can help review your loved one’s needs. At United Hebrew, we’re always happy to be a resource. Our campus offers a full range of supportive care services. In addition to assisted living and skilled nursing, we also offer short-term rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s care, respite, hospice, and palliative care, and home health care. What’s great about having all of these services in one place is that your loved one can age in place on our campus as their healthcare needs change. We are happy to take you on a tour, and answer any questions you may have.
Contact us if you would like to schedule an in-person tour.
You may also take a virtual tour of our campus facilities here: