Aging in Place versus Traditional Nursing Homes

Aging in PlaceShould a time arrive when you realize that you need help in continuing to provide a safe and joy-filled environment that ensures the physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of your elderly loved one, you have several choices; two of these include: moving your loved one into a nursing home or securing the professional services of an aging in place or  assisted-living-at-home agency. As an article in the NY Times affirms, both of these options include the presence of new people in the life of your loved one on a daily basis; however, how that service is provided and when it’s provided makes all the difference between the two.

There are perks for each senior care scenario, but what’s important is to make the decision that gives the best care to what your elderly loved one needs most. Do they have physical pain and are prone to serious injury? What is their state of mental health and what would help improve or comfort that? How much attention do they really need and how capable are they to still do things themselves? All these questions are just the surface of what needs to be asked to make the right decision.

Individualized Care, Attention, & Focus

A traditional nursing home is required to have one RN on staff 7 days a week for 8 hours a day; the rest of the time a licensed LPN or RN must be on duty; in addition, the nursing home must employ a registered nurse for the full-time role of Director of Nursing. According to Elder Law Answers, there is no minimum requirement for the number of nurses’ aides during a shift. Since the aides are the workers who provide most of the personal day-to-day care for the residents, it’s not impractical to think that each individual resident at a nursing home is being provided with hours of focused, one-to-one care and attention.  The article goes on to share, “The important factor in improving the quality of care is the amount of nurse time each patient receives. If a nursing home met only the federal nurse staffing requirements…a resident would receive 20 minutes of nurse time per day.”

Quite the opposite is true with an assisted-living-at-home service. With this option, you and your loved one decide how much one-to-one care is required or desired. If you’re comfortable having a professional nurse or caregiver visit for 2 hours once a week, that is doable; however, if you want a compassionate, attentive, highly-trained caregiver to be with your loved one 24/7, that’s also possible. In fact, it’s not uncommon to create an open room for a caregiving to live at the senior resident’s home and be there in order to care for them at any time for any circumstance. There’s much more flexibility with in-home assisted living and the one-on-one time desired for your loved one.

On the same note, traditional care can also be a temporary option for those seeking some form of physical rehabilitation. If your loved one has undergone surgeries or have suffered from a stroke, fall, or head injury, only temporary traditional care may be needed. Short-term care specialists and therapists at senior rehabilitation centers like St. Anthony Cares state that sometimes for certain situations, physical therapy and rehabilitation are also just as crucial to bring residents back to optimum health and prevent such accidents from recurring. In some cases, opting for short-term care solely for rehabilitation from injuries can be the type of care needed so long as the resident can fully recover.

If you find that your loved one is a specialty case that needs round the clock medical attention, perhaps opting for traditional home care with certified specialists around 24/7 is more suitable. Not everyone can afford a professional medical setup in their own home and so traditional homes can fill in that void. So depending on your elderly loved one’s needs, traditional assisted living in a home may be better suited in order to give them the medical attention they will need to live more comfortably.

Individual People, Individualized Services

A nursing home environment has a set schedule for their meals, snacks, time to get dressed and out of bed, and activities. While at first this may seem appealing, the lack of flexibility often leads to nurses’ aides feeling rushed to get from room to room to ensure everyone is bathed and dressed – even when, perhaps, a resident feels like staying in bed for a few hours more. Further, if a resident misses a meal because he/she was visiting with family or dealing with a personal hygiene situation, it’s not uncommon for the person to go without the meal completely. The Ohio Department of Aging addresses this very real issue at nursing homes and advocates for de-institutionalizing nursing homes and transforming them into person-centered care facilities. Being on such a strict schedule can leave little room for the unexpected and patients not having a great day to begin with can be put in an even testier mood when forced to participate at times they don’t wish to. But don’t fret, not all traditional assisted living homes operate in this manner. If traditional senior homes are the route you and your elderly loved one are seeking, there are plenty of homes out available in most cities that offer much more flexible schedules and allow seniors to go about the property at their own leisure. Kitchens or cafeterias operate within certain hours or can postpone meals for particular residents that enjoy them later or earlier in the day. Snacks are on hand so long as the cafeteria is open and there are no set or mandatory activities or intermingling involved if the resident doesn’t want to participate.

With in-home assisted living, the resident is within their own property and are able to have their caregiver prepare meals or snacks whenever desired so long as it’s within their doctor’s recommended diet regimen. Each day can be different and the monotony of a daily routine doesn’t have to exist if the resident wants to do a different activity each day. Sleeping in isn’t an issue on days they are a little more tired than normal – there really isn’t a set schedule and if there is one provided by the caregiver from the doctor’s recommendations, it’s easy to move things around or find the time to ensure your senior doesn’t lose sight of the comfort provided within the boundaries of their own home. More and more families are looking deeper into in-home assisted living to provide maximum comfort for their loved ones with mental health issues. Depending on the severity and how the family is able to cope, providing your senior with a setting he/she is familiar with can lead to more good days than bad. Although the demand for taking on a role as a caregiver can be high for family members, opting for a professional to live in the home and be there to help assist them at any time of the day or night can do wonders. Those with unstable mental health may not do very well if they’re put on a daily schedule as they would find in a traditional nursing home whereas each day could be a different experience within the contentment offered by their own home they’re more familiar with.

Whichever you choose, ensure the decision is what’s best for your senior. Specialized nursing homes could be a great option if your elderly loved one can benefit from having around the clock care and can harmonize with other residents in the same scenario. Depending on their conditions and their state of health, short-term care may be what they need until they recover from previous injuries or pain and they can then continue on with normal life at home with the family. Or perhaps in-home assisted living is what’s needed for your loved one. Maybe they only need a specialist to visit once a day, twice a week, or perhaps they need someone around 24/7 and provide care from within the home at any accommodating time. There are many options out there that can cater to the medical needs and overall well-being of your loved one. We’re here to help you explore those options.

In collaboration with Amanda Kaestner.

 

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