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Donna Erickson, creator of Fit Memory, shares a blog with us about how to pick a nursing home or Assisted Living facility.

When seniors have trouble with day-to-day living and help from family doesn’t suffice, moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home for round-the-clock care becomes necessary. You must take your time and do your research before making such a major life-changing decision. Not all care facilities are equal, and the one you choose will determine the senior’s quality of life moving forward.

Below, Senior Living Experts list the critical considerations to make when choosing an appropriate care facility for your loved one (or yourself):

Capacity for independent living

Every senior displays some warning signs they can’t live alone, says The Healthy. You should determine the level of assistance the senior needs with their day-to-day activities such as getting out of bed, using the toilet, walking, and taking medication. If the senior in question can socialize, is mentally sound, doesn’t suffer from serious medical issues, and moves around semi-freely, an assisted living environment may be best suited for them. They can still lead a fulfilling life in a gated community with other people their age.    

Presence of serious medical conditions

When your loved one has serious medical conditions that require constant care and supervision, such as a memory condition or incontinence, a nursing home may be a more suitable environment. Nursing homes provide ongoing care for people with chronic conditions (whereas assisted living facilities offer medical attention as necessary to residents who are generally of good health). Sometimes, as the National Institute on Aging can corroborate, nursing homes double as temporary rehabilitation centers for patients after hospitalization.  

Meal preparation

If the senior has no trouble preparing three meals a day, they can opt for an assisted living facility that has its own kitchenette. Some assisted living facilities also have community dining rooms for shared meals. Nursing homes have special dieticians who prepare meals suited to the senior’s condition and nutritional requirements. Assistance is offered to patients who have trouble feeding themselves.  

Financial condition

An assisted living facility is about half as expensive as a nursing home offering intensive medical care. On average, you can expect to pay $48,000 per year for an assisted living environment. In comparison, a private room at a nursing home will set you back by $102,000, reports U.S. News. Either way, the senior loved one will be expected to foot the bill. When they have insufficient income or assets, they may qualify for Medicaid assistance. Keep in mind that Medicaid covers only some expenses for assisted living, excluding room and board, but can cover almost all nursing home costs.    

With long-term care living arrangements being so expensive, many seniors choose to sell their homes to free up liquidity. If you do sell your home, be thorough with the numbers. Factor in the realtor fees, outstanding mortgage balance, and the sales price at your location to come up with a reliable estimate. You need to be objective about the senior’s financial state to make informed decisions.  

Preferred lifestyle

Your loved one's expectations, hopes, and desires matter. Many seniors are strong-willed and prefer to be independent. They have no desire to move into a “home”. In such cases, an assisted living facility makes for an excellent alternative. They can continue living independently, enjoy activities, hobnob with other seniors, and still get the care they need. Unless you assume guardianship of the person, you can’t force them into a living arrangement against their will.  

The suitability of the care facility

Finally, always evaluate any care home or facility carefully before transferring your loved one there. Here are some items to look at:

  • Audited by healthcare agencies
  • Happiness levels of current residents
  • Quality amenities and care available  
  • Number of staff and turnover rate
  • Affordability

The Senior Living Experts team can help you find the best arrangement for your loved one at a pocket-friendly rate.


The main difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility is the level of medical care provided. The former is designed for people with serious health conditions who need constant medical assistance. The latter is for semi-independent seniors capable of living in a community environment. Regardless of which senior living arrangement is best suited, always choose an accredited facility with a solid reputation.  

Donna Erickson is a retired public educator. She created Fit Memory with a few friends as a way to promote wellness among senior citizens with the hopes it will help inspire others to make the most of their golden years.

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