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Skilled Nursing Facility vs Assisted Living Facility

Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are a specific term for facilities with nurses 24/7 and certified for Medicare. There is no standard definition for "assisted living". They can offer a broad range of services but they don't have nurses 24/7. They might have nurses some of the time or only when needed. Rooms could resemble hotel rooms or full apartments with a kitchen.

What is a nursing home?

Nursing homes are residential care facilities where nurses are on staff 24/7. They are also called convalescent homes or long term care facilities. They are for elderly, ill, and disabled people who need around the clock medical care but don't need to be in a hospital.
Nursing homes are licensed by the federal and state governments because they are eligible to be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid. Many aspects of the business are regulated such as staffing numbers, skills, training, and building conditions and safety.

Nursing home services

Nursing homes can provide many services such as meals, medication management, social & recreational activities, exercise, housekeeping, physical therapy, speech therapy, memory care, help with eating, bathing, going to the toilet, personal care, and hygiene.

Nursing home costs and expenses

According to the Administration for Community Living, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost for long term care is $250/day or $7700/month.
Options for paying include out of pocket, medicare, medicaid, and long term care insurance. There are alternatives such as staying in your own home and hiring a caregiver.

How to choose a nursing home?

With over 13,000 nursing and assisted living facilities in the US, there are many options. But it takes time to find the facility that's right for you based on your preferences, health, and services needed. There are several companies that help with the selection process. Things to consider are:

  • What activities you need help with
  • How often you need help
  • Availability to move in
  • Location
  • Pricing

Visit all the homes you are considering. On your tour look for:
  • Are staff qualified and taking good care of the residents?
  • Does the building looks clean and well maintained?
  • What activities are available to the residents?
  • Do the meals look good?
  • Get a clear list of prices for all services
  • Check federal and state licenses