The Dilemma of Choosing Assisted Living or a Nursing Home

Jul 8, 2012

The good news is that thanks to medical advances and other factors, people are living longer than ever. The less than stellar news is this extended life span does not necessarily translate into a high quality of life in one’s later years.

With that comes the issue of what decisions should be made to make sure elder parents get the best care possible. It was not so long ago that the nursing home (aka “old folks” home) was virtually the only way to go. The Social Security act of 1935 gave rise to the nursing home industry, as Social Security provided reliable, fixed income to the elderly. Nursing homes didn’t become affordable for many and a profitable business enterprise until more than two decades later, thanks to public financing through Medicare and Medicaid.

But the tide is changing, as more and more people are looking at assisted living care possibilities and taking advantage of them. Newswise reports that a study by Health Services Research says assisted living, where the elderly are aided in everyday tasks in settings designed to replicate the home is increasing, while occupancy in the more traditional nursing homes is going down.
According to the study, nursing home occupancy dropped from 93% in 1977 to 87% in 1995. It continued to fall, to 83% in 2003. The researchers in this study found that assisted living capacity rose 10% and caused a 1.4% decrease in private-pay nursing home occupancy.
Assisted living facilities started gaining popularity in the 1980s, as they offered private rooms, food, housekeeping and other assistance. Most also have plenty of social activities for residents.

However, this does not mean a nursing home would not be a viable choice, since the type of care received in such a facility can be much better than sufficient.
“Although frequently thought of as temporary destinations for the final months of life, many skilled nursing residents thrive in these residences for a number of years,” said Jacob A. Hale, an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney at The Hale Law Firm, P.C. in Waxahachie, TX.

John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit