A nursing home is normally the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. Nursing homes provide what is called custodial care, including getting in and out of bed, and providing assistance with feeding, bathing, and dressing. However, nursing homes differ from other senior housing facilities in that they also provide a high level of medical care. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Skilled nursing care is available on site, usually 24 hours a day. Other medical professionals, such as occupational or physical therapists, are also available. This allows the delivery of medical procedures and therapies on site that would not be possible in other housing.
Some nursing homes are set up like a hospital. The staff provides medical care, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapy. There might be a nurses' station on each floor. Other nursing homes try to be more like home. They try to have a neighborhood feel. Often, they don't have a fixed day-to-day schedule, and kitchens might be open to residents. Staff members are encouraged to develop relationships with residents.
Some nursing homes have special care units for people with serious memory problems such as Alzheimer's disease. Some will let couples live together. Nursing homes are not only for the elderly, but for anyone who requires 24-hour care.
Paying for Nursing Home Care
Nursing homes can be an expensive option.It’s important to check with Medicare, Medicaid, and any private insurance provider you have to find out their current rules about covering the costs of long-term care. You can pay for nursing home care in several ways. Here are some examples:
Medicare. For someone who needs special care, Medicare, a Federal program, will cover part of the cost in a skilled nursing home approved by Medicare. Check with Medicare for details.
Medicaid. Medicaid is a State/Federal program that provides health benefits to some people with low incomes. Contact your county family services department to see if you qualify.
Private pay. Some people pay for long-term care with their own savings for as long as possible. When that is no longer possible, they may apply for help from Medicaid. If you think you may need to apply for Medicaid at some point, make sure the nursing home you’re interested in accepts Medicaid payments. Not all do.
Long-term care insurance. Some people buy private long-term care insurance. It can pay part of the costs for a nursing home or other long-term care for the length of time stated in your policy. This type of insurance is sold by many different companies and benefits vary widely. Look carefully at several policies before making a choice.
When thinking about nursing home costs, keep in mind that you can have extra out-of-pocket charges for some supplies or personal care, for instance, hair appointments, laundry, and services that are outside routine care.