Just the other day, in this space, I reiterated that “The New Old Age” blog is the best in the elder care / aging subject space. It still is. But today’s article, “Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?” is one with which I have some serious issues.
The first issue I have is that the premise is, in our experience, misleading. The question is posed as a choice between an assisted living facility or a “nursing home” when an elder’s medical condition (including dementia or Alzheimer’s) makes living independently unsafe. Their is a critical third choice, that most seniors, in fact, greatly prefer to either of the other options. That is aging-in-place, with the assistance they require provided in their homes. That is what has led to the creation of businesses such as Support For Home, committing to support the wish of elders to safely age at home.
The author of the article, Paula Span, actually refers to the fact that one of the experts she consulted for the story, “managed to keep her mother in their home for eight years. But not everyone can make that happen.”
Actually, with a respected, high quality home care agency, most folks can make that happen. The cost of home care has been well documented as usually being less than the cost of other options. It is a function of obtaining adequate care — and respite for the family caregiver(s).
A second issue is that “nursing home” is a vague term that often covers two types of care. The first is what is usually referred to as a “skilled nursing facility” or SNF (sniff). We work with a great many SNFs in our business. They are critical for those undergoing post-hospitalization rehabilitation and for those whose medical condition is such that they really need 24-hour nursing. A second time of “nursing home” is the “memory care unit,” dedicated to caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who have reached the stage at which they must be protected from themselves. Quite often these are locked down.
Are both of these types of “nursing home” needed? Absolutely. Are there quite a few that are passionate about and dedicated to the patients they serve? You bet. Do I personally hope with all my heart that I am never in either one of them? You better believe it.
There are other resources that need to be part of the decision making concerning elders who cannot safely live alone. Adult Day Health programs are a vital resource that helps many elders live at home, complementing professional and family home care.
My wife, the co-owner of Support For Home In-Home Care, often says that as long as she does not really need much help, assisted living is a great alternative. Good facilities have good food, housekeeping, … However, if she does need serious help, she wants to be at home, where professional caregivers can provide the 1:1 support that will keep her safe and maintain her quality of life. I absolutely concur — and not just because she’s the Boss.
Best wishes, Bert