“What is the difference between a nursing home and a retirement community” is one of the questions our retirement living specialists are most frequently asked. The truth is, while many people use “Nursing Home” and “Retirement Community” interchangeably, there are some big differences between the kinds of services residents receive in both places.
Retirement communities can offer many levels of care. At Country Meadows, our communities offer a range of services beginning with independent living, continuing through assisted living or personal care (depending on the state in which you live), and also higher levels of care like memory care or rehabilitation services.
In an independent living community, residents generally enjoy a private apartment or cottage, a meal plan of some kind and a list of amenities that may include things such as:
- Access to health and wellness activities
- Participation in community life programs
- Maintenance-free living with yard, laundry and housekeeping services
- Emergency response and security staff available in case of an emergency
- Access to in-home care, if needed, to allow the resident to age in place as long as possible
Assisted living or personal care communities offer many of the same benefits as independent living, but also offer:
- Care staff on duty 24-hours a day to help with the activities of daily life, for example, bathing and dressing
- Transportation for appointments and other off-campus activities
- Access to memory care or rehabilitation services if needed
Communities that offer skilled nursing (or “nursing homes”) offer a range of services that are nearly what would be offered in a hospital. Our Bethlehem and South Hills communities offer this level of care for both short-term rehabilitation (as in, what might be needed after a hospital stay or surgery) or long-term care. Residents in a nursing environment would receive:
- 24-hour supervision and health care support
- An individualized care plan to include memory care, occupational, physical or speech therapy, as needed
- Therapeutic diets designed with the residents’ health conditions in mind
The level of care that you or your loved one may require can be difficult to determine without help. When thinking through next steps for yourself or a family member, it can be helpful to research the different levels of care that are available at the communities you may be considering. You can also discuss care levels with a doctor, your local office of aging, or with a senior living expert who can help to clarify what may seem like a maze of information. There are also many online sources of information available when it comes to researching nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Ultimately, your decision should always be made after making a visit to the facility and talking with the staff about your family’s individual situation, to be sure that the retirement community or nursing home will be a good fit for your loved one.