Nursing Home vs. Other Care Options

As Medicare only pays for a short nursing home stay, after a major medical incident, seniors and their loved ones must evaluate if they want to private pay to stay in a nursing home or seek an alternative for their nursing care.  Alternative senior care choices include a Senior Home Care Agency providing a Caregiver and Care Management in the home or relocating to Assisted Living.

Most Nursing Homes accept Medicare and Medicaid patients but there are a small percentage of nursing homes which only accept Medicare patients.  At the same time, some nursing homes only accept Medicaid payments after a patient has spent all of their assets and qualifies for Medicaid.  They will not accept new Medicaid patients.  In 2006, 48% of nursing home care was paid for by Medicaid which matches the trend industry experts report:  seniors are seeking an alternative to nursing home care.

Reasons seniors may opt for an alternative to staying in a nursing home:

1) Staff to patient ratio:  nursing homes often staff one Nurse's Aide to 12 to 15 patients.  The nursing aide is the person responsible for assisting with personal care, such as  showers and bathroom visits.  Each patient's care depends on the ability of the aide to juggle the needs of multiple patients. 

2) Cost:  although the daily rate for care may be acceptable, sometimes the additional fees for everything from hair cuts to transportation can add up and cost much more than the cost of paying for an individual Caregiver in the home or a private apartment with part-time care in an Assisted Living Community.

3) Care needs:  many times a senior will recover from medical conditions which require rehabilitation in a nursing center, such as a stroke, heart attack or hip replacement, and be able to function on less care.

4) Specific care needs:  seniors who may need more specialized care for conditions such as memory loss or diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, may opt to find a community which specializes in this type of care.

5) Quality of nursing facility:  sometimes hospitals discharge patients to a nursing home for rehabilitation and do not consult with the patient on which facility they will be transferred to when they leave the hospital.  The nursing home may not suit the personal desires of the senior and this is often when families begin their search for elder care.'s experts on Assisted Living, Long-term Care Insurance, Estate Planning, Elder Law and Reverse Mortgages answer questions about all of these aspects of elder care to assist seniors to find the right option for their finances, medical needs and personal preferences.





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Comments (1) -

  • Kelly H.

    7/20/2008 12:17:28 AM | Reply

    Definitely some seniors prefer not being in a nursing home just because of the name and some Assisted Living communities provide the same kind of care and allow them to feel they are still part of an active community.


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