What is a Nursing Home?
Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing or nursing care facilities, are residential living environments for older adults who need 24-hour medical care and assistance with performing essential everyday tasks. Nursing homes are ideal for seniors who do not require hospitalization but are not capable of being fully independent and caring for themselves. These senior living communities provide residents with the security, care, and peace of mind to continue going about their daily lives while experiencing an improved quality of life alongside peers of the same generation.
Nursing homes are ideal for seniors who do not require hospitalization but are not capable of being fully independent and caring for themselves.
In this write up, we will go over some nursing home basics to help you learn more and make the best choice.
What Are the Benefits of a Nursing Home?
Nursing homes offer a number of benefits for seniors who need constant access to medical care and help with performing everyday activities. Nursing homes can greatly improve the quality of life for older adults who do not wish to burden their relatives with caregiving duties or who have chronic medical conditions requiring access to 24-hour nursing care. Here are other benefits of living in a nursing home:
Nursing homes offer medical care services similar to a hospital does after an illness or sudden medical problem. Medical care services will vary between different nursing homes, however some of the services that may be offered include skilled nursing care, orthopedic care, support after surgeries, physical, speech, and occupational therapies, wound care, breathing treatments and/or intravenous/antibiotic therapy.
Activities of Daily Living
Nursing homes help with all areas of activities of daily living (ADL). Over 80% of residents in a nursing home need help with at least three or more ADLs daily. These ADLs can include dressing, bathing, walking, meal preparation, making daily decisions, cleaning and/or feeding themselves.
Aging is often accompanied by many different changes to one's health and lifestyle that can make it difficult to maintain good nutrition and eat regular meals. For instance, decreased appetite is a common side effect of many medications, while wheelchairs and canes can make it difficult to safely navigate the kitchen and prepare healthy meals. MedlinePlus reports that optimal nutrition may help prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers in the older adult population. Nursing homes provide residents with prepared, healthy meals served in the dining hall or cafeteria that can be customized for each resident based on their unique nutrition needs.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness become more prevalent with age, especially when older adults fall out of touch with relatives, experience the loss of a spouse, or suffer cognitive problems that can make communication more difficult. Nursing homes provide seniors with the opportunity to socialize with peers in their living communities, and organize various social events that appeal to older generations. Nursing homes that offer memory care services for residents with dementia also offer specialized social activities designed to enhance cognitive function and slow the progression of dementia.
Safety and Security
Seniors are often more susceptible to falls and injuries than their younger counterparts, and are often considered easy targets for theft and fraud. Seniors with dementia are also prone to wandering and getting lost, or may forget to lock and close their windows and doors. Nursing homes provide seniors with the safety and security services they need to avoid or reduce their risk for harm. Residents are constantly surrounded by staff members who are professionally trained to spot potential threats and dangers.
Most nursing homes offer housekeeping services that handle common chores so residents can spend more time focusing on their health. Work such as changing bedding, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the hallway and common areas are examples of work items the nursing home should tend to. Such chores can be time-consuming, physically challenging, and exhausting for many seniors if left to do them on their own.
Specialized Health Care
Dementia, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease are the most common chronic health conditions that affect people aged 85 years and older, according to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Public Health. Many nursing homes have memory care units that offer specialized care for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and will usually develop customized meal plans for residents with osteoporosis that provide them with higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Seniors who move into nursing homes can benefit from knowing they will receive specialized health care for their medical conditions.
What Are the Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Care?
Assisted living communities and nursing homes share a lot of similarities, but the main difference between the two is that nursing homes provide 24-hour medical care and skilled nursing care, while assisted living communities offer only limited medical care and supervision.
Assisted living communities are ideal for older adults who may need a low level of medical care and minimal assistance with performing normal daily living activities. Seniors in assisted living communities are typically independent but require help with some activities of daily living such as bathing or grooming. Nursing homes offer more extensive medical care for seniors who need help around the clock.
Nursing homes and assisted living communities offer many of the same activities, amenities, and services, including housekeeping services, nutritious meals, transportation, social events, and fitness classes or physical and occupational therapy. Some communities offer both assisted living and nursing care under one roof so residents can transition seamlessly from one unit to the next in the event their health and medical needs change.
How Does Short Term and Long Term Nursing Care Differ?
Nursing homes may offer short-term care, long-term care, or both. Short-term care, also known as critical care nursing, is for seniors in recovery from a recent surgery, injury, or acute illness who need temporary 24-hour medical care outside of a hospital setting. Many patients who receive critical care nursing move back into their homes following recovery, though some with a chronic illness may end up staying at the nursing home to receive long-term care.
Seniors who receive long-term care usually stay at nursing homes for the remainder of their lives, and end up building meaningful relationships with nursing staff and other residents to benefit from an enhanced quality of life. Long-term nursing care is for seniors with dementia and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease who may need specialized memory care services. Long-term nursing care is also for seniors with a chronic or terminal illness that requires ongoing and immediate access to a high level of medical care.