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Mary was stressed and confused. Over the last few days, she had been on the phone with six different facilities ranging from independent living to the nursing home and everyone seemed to give conflicting information.

What is the difference between assisted living and the nursing home?

What is memory care?

What level of care is right for my loved one?

Figuring out what the different types of facilities do and what level of care is right for you or your family member can be overwhelming. Here is a quick guide to help:

In-Home Care

In home care can range from someone who comes over to keep you company and make sure you don’t fall all the way to full-time nurses. The cost of in-home caregivers differs radically, depending on the type of help you need and how often you need that help. The great thing about in-home care is that it allows loved ones to age at home as long as possible.

Independent Living

Like in home care, independent living varies depending on your needs. In my opinion, the two biggest benefits of independent living are the social interaction and the flexibility. A lot of people choose to go to independent living when they are still healthy and active because of the social interaction. Most of the independent living facilities in Birmingham offer great opportunities for residents to participate in card games, movie nights, wine tastings, bible studies, book clubs- you name it, they do it. People living in these facilities tend to be far more active and social than my clients who live at home alone and I think they live longer, healthier lives as a result.

The other big benefit to independent living is the flexibility. Several independent living facilities in Birmingham partner with in-house caregivers. Usually, the in-house caregivers can offer cheaper rates and shorter minimum time requirements for facility residents. This allows people to stay in independent living as their need for care increases.

Assisted Living

Unlike independent living, assisted living is regulated by the State of Alabama. In order to qualify for assisted living, a person must be able to stand up and transfer from a bed to a chair with the help of one or two people (depending on the facility). They also have to be able to understand the medication they are taking and remember when they last took the medication. If a person cannot stand and transfer or remember their medication, they cannot be in assisted living.

Memory Care

Memory care is basically assisted living for people with memory problems. Memory care facilities are more secure to prevent people with memory problems from wondering off or getting lost. They also assist residents with their medications. Several assisted living and skilled nursing facilities also have a memory care area.

Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing, or the nursing home, is the highest level of care. Nursing homes have nurses on staff at all times and can provide basic medical care. Skilled nursing is the ONLY LEVEL OF CARE THAT IS COVERED BY MEICAID.

Determining whether your loved one needs assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing is especially confusing. I recommend clients work with a placement specialist. They are like real estate agents for ageing facilities. Placement specialists usually have social workers who can do an assessment and tell you what level of care your loved one needs.