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Navigating the variety of options for care for an older adult family member can quickly become confusing. Many different names are used to describe the various types of older adult care facilities. In reality, there are just two primary types of elder care: nursing home and assisted living community. Understanding the differences between nursing home and assisted living can make the process of choosing elder care less stressful and more reassuring for all involved.

Elder Care Defined: Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living

A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility (SNF), is permitted to provide extensive nursing and medical, under the supervision of a practicing physician. Nursing homes are equipped to perform near-constant monitoring of individuals who require extensive care due to physical disability, cognitive impairment, and/or unstable chronic health conditions. Depending on the degree of severity and prognosis for recovery, a person’s length of stay at a nursing home can be a short-term (several weeks) or long-term (months or years). For the latter, the nursing home may be referred to as a long-term care (LTC) facility.

Another important distinction is that a nursing home is a custodial arrangement in which the medical staff are the custodians of care for the older adult. In a custodial arrangement, the room to which your loved one is assigned is not their private dwelling. Because nursing homes follow a medical model of custodial care, medical staff and other personnel may enter the room at any time. 

Nursing homes provide meals according to medical needs. They may have visitation hours similar to a hospital. Limited social and recreational programs, if any, are provided at a nursing home.

An assisted living community (facility or center) is a term used for a category of elder care known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). Other terms used for CCRC include senior living community and life care communities. These communities are licensed to offer different levels of healthcare and wellness care to support the needs of older adults as their needs change over time, including their physical, medical, social and emotional, and spiritual needs. 

Assisted living centers do not employ a custodial arrangement. Rather, the older adult’s dwelling (usually an apartment style set-up) is considered a private residence. Also, assisted living communities embrace a social model, with a focus on preserving well-being and maintaining the older adult’s independence. Assisted living communities uphold a resident’s right to personal privacy, autonomy, and dignity while promoting community and family involvement.

As part of a CCRC, assisted living may be a step within a senior living community that offers a transitional living pathway based on needs. As such, an older adult enters the community as an active and independent resident who needs minimal assistance, but should their health decline in a way that prevents truly independent living, the community provides a transition to stepped-up care. This can include receiving help with daily living activities, physical rehabilitation and adaptations in their same living space—or transitioning to more medically intensive long-term care services such as Memory Care or skilled nursing (with appropriate permits as required by law).

What Type of Care Does a Nursing Home Provide?

Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities (SNF), focus on healthcare and personal care for residents. Primarily, though, nursing home services focus on medical care including:

  • nursing care
  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • basic assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) (ex: personal hygiene, toileting, dressing, cleanliness of living space and others)
  • physical rehabilitation such as post-surgery
  • speech therapy
  • social-emotional therapeutic services.

Some older adults will stay at a nursing home for a short time after being in the hospital. After they recover, they go home. However, most nursing home residents live there permanently because they have ongoing physical or mental conditions that require constant care and supervision.

What Type of Care Does Assisted Living Provide?

Assisted living facilities can be transformative environments for aging adults. With a focus on wellbeing, supporting independence, and expanding social engagement, older adults residing in assisted living communities can forge new friendships with people their age, discover new hobbies, become more active, preserve cognitive function, and enjoy amenities that would be harder for them to access if they remained in a traditional home or in the care of a family member. 

All residents who reside within an assisted living community are considered independent to the extent that they are capable of participating in or at least partially maintaining their basic daily activity needs within their private living quarters. The extent of assistance needed is a determining factor in cost to reside at an assisted living community. 

Other daily services that assisted living provides – if and when needed by a resident can include:

  • Meals provided and/or restaurants on site
  • Recreational areas indoors and out
  • Entertainment and enrichment programs
  • Concierge services
  • Shared common areas for activities
  • 24-hour medical staff accessible to all residents regardless of level of independence
  • Personal hygiene assistance (dressing, bathing)
  • Medication reminders
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry 
  • Transportation 
  • Security 

As an assisted living “continuum of care” community, Everbrook Senior Living offers a wide variety of services, amenities, and living options to help older adult residents remain independent and thriving for as long as possible.

To sum it all up, nursing homes focus on medical care—from short-term rehab to long-term ongoing medical care. Assisted living is focused on supporting the wellness needs of older adult residents for the duration of their “golden years”.

Does My Elderly Family Member Need Nursing Home Care or Assisted Living?

Deciding if an elderly family member is better served by nursing home care or assisted living is a complex process. Foremost, this decision will be determined by your elderly family member’s medical needs and the extent to which you can provide what they need for the person to remain at home. Other factors will include the extent of their physical or cognitive impairment, medication management, and prognosis. You’ll also want to consider if their condition is likely to worsen over time, which means the care they need now will change in months or years. 

Even an older adult who is mostly independent in their self-care, today, will encounter times when their healthcare needs become too extensive for living on their own, even within an assisted living community. This is why you want to choose an older adult community like Everbrook Senior Living, which provides transitional care to support your loved one as their health and wellbeing changes over time. It is much less stressful and easier for an older adult to adapt to changes in continuum of care when it is provided within the same residential setting than to have to move from one facility to another as level of care changes.

Resources

CT Assisted Living Association Resource Guide
https://everbrookseniorliving.com/images/forms/CALA-Consumer-Guide.pdf

Everbrook’s FAQs (again they reference CT in many of these responses so not sure about other states)

https://everbrookseniorliving.com/resources/frequently-asked-questions

Assited Living at Everbrook Communities

Assited Living v. Nursing Home: How do they Differ? https://www.healthline.com/health/assisted-living-vs-nursing-home

Residential Facilities, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/residential-facilities-assisted-living-and-nursing-homes

Helpful Guidance for Managing Older Adult Long-Term Care

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

800-633-4227

877-486-2048 (TTY)

Eldercare Locator

800-677-1116

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

USAging

202-872-0888

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

You can also call your local Area Agency on Aging or Department of Human Services.

A therapeutic innovation launched during the COVID-19 pandemic is making its way into mainstream care of older adults who live alone and those who have dementia. Lifelike robotic cats and dogs are an effective way to help seniors enhance social interaction, improve symptoms of depression, and reduce feelings of loneliness. These robotic pets can even be purchased by family members to gift to a loved one – perfect for the holiday season.

Loneliness Increases among Older Adults in Winter Months

Feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation can increase dramatically during the winter months, particularly around the holiday season. Among older adults, these feelings can become overwhelming – worsening their symptoms and increasing risk for accidents and even suicide. Research shows that something as simple as a lifelike pet cat or dog can significantly improve wellbeing for older adults, including those with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. 

Therapeutic Animatronic Dog or Cat Enhances Social-Emotional Wellbeing for Seniors

The positive impact of these therapeutic robotic pets include improved mood and affect, better communication and meaningful social interaction, including having a sense of being needed by the companion robot pet. 

Additional positive emotions experienced when interacting with a therapeutic robotic pet include:

  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Empathy
  • Gentleness
  • Connection 

Older adults who have access to a robotic pet may also have better outcomes during a hospitalization, including less delirium, loneliness, fewer falls, and reduced need for a 1:1 companion. Some studies point to older adults with a robotic pet having enhanced cognitive function, less agitation, and less anxiety; although more research is needed in these areas.

Animatronic Therapeutic Pets Ideal for Seniors in Many Living Arranagements 

Initially launched in the spring of 2020, in a partnership between Ageless Innovation and the Department of Elder Affairs in Florida (among other states) the program provided lifelike Joy for All Companion Pets® as a means to facilitate and enhance interaction between an older adult and their caregivers and family members. Since the end of the pandemic, the therapeutic robotic pets have been used in a variety of settings including senior centers, hospitals, nursing homes, memory care facilities, and senior living communities.  

Mood Enhancing Behaviors for Older Adults with a Therapeutic Robotic Pet

Some of the mood enhancing interactions that have been observed between seniors and their therapeutic robot pets include:

  • Cuddling
  • Grooming
  • Petting
  • Sleeping with the pet
  • Naming the pet
  • Taking the pet with them on outings
  • Playing
  • Gathering in a communal area to talk to others about their “pet”
  • Intergenerational connection between an elder and a young child

Features of the Robotic “Thera-Pet”

The robotic pet cat or dog (and now birds are available) has motion sensors in the head, cheek, back, tummy and other areas so the animatronic can respond to petting. Each also has sound effects (purrs, cries, barks), which can be turned off for an elder with audio sensitivity. The fur is very soft and inspired by the texture of real animal coats. The “pets” can mimic a “nuzzling” action, can detect light in the room and respond to it with vocalizations, can bark and purr depending on movement and room setting. The robotic pets come in a variety of colors, too.

To discuss incorporating a Joy For All Companion Pet into the care plan for your loved one, please inquire with your health care provider. If your loved one is a resident at one of the Everbrook Senior Living Communities, please inquire with our Wellness staff. If your loved one is not a resident at one of our beautiful communities schedule a visit today.   

Resources

Florida Department of Elder Affairs

Hudson J, Ungar R, Albright L, Tkatch R, Schaeffer J, Wicker ER. Robotic Pet Use Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2020 Oct 16;75(9):2018-2028. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa119. PMID: 32789476; PMCID: PMC7566965.

Koh WQ, Ang FXH, Casey D. Impacts of Low-cost Robotic Pets for Older Adults and People With Dementia: Scoping Review. JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol. 2021 Feb 12;8(1):e25340. doi: 10.2196/25340. PMID: 33497349; PMCID: PMC8082946.

Ihamäki P, Heljakka K. Robot Pets as "Serious Toys"- Activating Social and Emotional Experiences of Elderly People. Inf Syst Front. 2021 Aug 14:1-15. doi: 10.1007/s10796-021-10175-z. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34413702; PMCID: PMC8364409. 

Petersen S, Houston S, Qin H, Tague C, Studley J. The Utilization of Robotic Pets in Dementia Care. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;55(2):569-574. doi: 10.3233/JAD-160703. PMID: 27716673; PMCID: PMC5181659.

Thursday, 24 September 2020 11:27

Introducing Medicare Advantage Plans

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Here at Everbrook Senior Living we like to make you aware of companies who we believe align with our vision and offer resources that can help aging adults in our communities.

One such company is Medicare Advantage Plans. At MedicareAdvantagePlans.org, their mission is to help current and future subscribers develop their understanding of Medicare so that they can navigate this complex system with confidence. Their most recent guide was designed to walk seniors and their families through the different medicare plans to find the best one that meets both their medical and financial needs. 

You can learn more about some of their helpful guides here: 

Figuring out if you qualify for Medicare Advantage and what benefits you’re entitled to can be confusing. Medicare Advantage Plans can help you figure out if you’re eligible.

Saturday, 01 August 2020 12:40

COVID-19 Facts About Senior Living

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What we have learned during Phase I

Researched based on Everbrook Senior Living Communities

  • Senior Living proved a safer alternative than seniors living with home care
  • Resident to resident transmission risk is low
  • In-home caregivers present increased risk due to high exposure
  • Senior Living staff are subjected to preventative protocols
  • Senior Living in communities were able to help residents maintain a quality of life throughout the pandemic


Benefits of moving into an Everbrook Senior Living Community

  • Strict environmental controls
  • Vigilance at tracing staff activities outside of work to identify risks
  • 24-hour nurses monitoring for signs of illness
  • Socialization with peers who help one another cope
  • Essential and non-essential services including chef-prepared meals
  • A robust exercise program that helps reduce risk of falls and injuries

Contact us today to schedule a visit.

Everbrook Senior Living was proud to host our first virtual event on May 20, 2020 featuring Pamela Atwood, MA, CDP, CLL, and the founder and owner of Atwood Dementia Group. Atwood led the group with ideas and exercises to practice at home, as many daily activities and plans have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Atwood gave insight on strategies to connect with seniors in meaningful ways with items you can find in your home.

Were you unable to join us for the presentation? No worries! You can watch the following videos at your convenience to learn the tips and tricks from professionals. We'll be offering a virtual event each month. So check back soon for new and different educational webinars with top professionals in the field.

 

 

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 or Coronavirus has spread fear much more virulently than the disease itself although older adults being at high risk of mortality from coronavirus certainly have much to fear. Self-isolation as a method to reduce transmission risk may not be an optimal response to the coronavirus threat for very old adults because social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of seniors. Isolating seniors amid such high tension can only serve to heighten the risk to their mental and physical health. Social isolation and loneliness are prevalent among the elderly because their social networks tend to shrink in later life due to losses of friends, family or from age related functional loss. As whole communities retreat into isolation to ease concerns about acquiring coronavirus, the vulnerable elderly living in near isolation will be forced to deal with fears of dying or media reports of impending doom all alone. What an alarming development!

All gatekeepers to the elderly should increase urgency to help seniors stay connected socially during the coronavirus crisis. What seniors in later life need more than ever are peers sharing similar feelings of distress about coronavirus who can band together and help each other through this most difficult period. Gatekeepers to the elderly are reminded that social isolation and loneliness though not the same, are widely recognized among health experts as a cause of poorer health among the elderly. Social isolation is measured objectively by the number of contacts we have which can drop sharply as we age.1 Loneliness is measured subjectively as the difference between one’s desired and achieved levels of social connectedness which can increase as we age.2

Sunday, 20 October 2019 16:12

The Impacts of Vitamin D Deficiency

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Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency in Later Life?

Could sun dried mushrooms and tank-top shirts be keys to reducing vitamin D deficiencies in later life thus reducing fall risks? Well, yes and let’s discuss why. Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin as it is made from cholesterol in skin and as the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) penetrate skin cells it causes production of vitamin D3. 1The dilemma for seniors is that older skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently while outside activities are often greatly reduced: and, while there are few foods that actually contain vitamin D, older seniors need more vitamin D, approximately 800 IU (international units) daily, as opposed to 600 IU daily for their younger counterparts. 2(According to the Institutes of Medicine, a serum 25 (OH) D level of 25 ng/ml is adequate for most populations while deficiency is defined as less than 20 ng/ml, with insufficiency being less than 30 ng/ml. Through a process called hydroxylation, the liver and kidneys turn stored vitamin D into an active form the body uses.) 

Vitamin D Deficiency is Linked to Poorer Health 

Because older adults are vulnerable to muscle weakness and falls, maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D is important: there is evidence that sufficient vitamin D levels can strengthen bone and muscles in older adults which leads to reductions in falls3 – the primary benefit of vitamin D is to maintain serum calcium and phosphorus levels within normal ranges to support metabolic function, neuromuscular transmission, and bone mineralization.4 In fact, vitamin D deficiencies are linked to a multitude of health risks. For seniors in later life, vitamin D deficiency has been linked in studies to such conditions as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, although there is debate about the strength of the link. 5Vitamin deficient older adults living in areas prone to inadequate exposure to sunlight have increased risk of experiencing cognitive decline. 6Vitamin D deficient older adults may experience a loss of bone density which causes fractures and falls.7 Vitamin D deficient older adults may experience increases of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. 8Vitamin D deficient older adults may experience increases of risk factors for depression and other psychiatric conditions.9

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Southampton, MA 01073
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