Assisted living versus long-term care: What’s the deal?


A common dilemma facing many families today is how to take care of aging family members. Since baby-boomers are well into the “aging family member” category, the issue is growing. The most common solutions are stay at home, move in with the kids, or depending on health conditions, a nursing home (long-term care) or assisted living. Understanding the last two is where the rub comes in for most families. How do you know which facility is most appropriate for your loved one?

With a little knowledge, the proper direction is plainer, but not definitive. The first step is to become familiar with a couple of acronyms, to wit:

ADL (or ADLs) - which means “activities of daily living.” These are:

· Eating

· Bathing

· Dressing

· Toileting

· Transfer (Ability to move one’s self from bed, and get in a wheelchair and/or walk with or without an assistive device to another location)

· Cognitive skills

IADL - which means “instrumental activities of daily living.” These are:

· Housework

· Taking medications as prescribed

· Managing money

· Ability to use a telephone or other communications device

· Transportation within the community

A typical assisted living candidate needs help with at least one ADL or IADL, or may have a primary or secondary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Or the potential resident may have a diagnosed medical condition that requires monitoring or assessment at least once a day by a licensed medical professional, and the condition, if untreated, would be life-threatening.

Nursing home residents need more “hands on help” with ADLs and IADLs — or they cannot perform some or all ADLs/IADLs at all. Nursing homes are staffed more appropriately to handle residents of this nature. Nursing home residents that have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia typically have behaviors that are inappropriate for an assisted living environment such as wandering, erratic behavior or other issues not conducive to the socially open environment of assisted living.

In a long-term care environment, a resident has limited freedom of movement and may not leave the facility unless accompanied by a licensed staff member or family member. Assisted living residents, for the most part, may come and go as they please. Some even keep vehicles.

This is but a capsule view of long-term-care versus assisted living. There are substantially more details to delve through along with applications, approvals, examinations, financial arrangements and dozens of other considerations. Get more detailed information by calling Nina Hunt at 870-727-9310 at Trinity Village.