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When loved ones are no longer capable of independently caring for themselves, they may need to consider the different kinds of assistance available to help them continue living fulfilling lives. Medicaid’s institutional care program can help individuals with the cost of acquiring this additional assistance. If the provision of home health care aides is inadequate to safely keep yourself or your loved one living at home, then it may be necessary to consider an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing facility. While there are some similarities between these two institutional models of living, there are also many differences.
Both assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities are housing communities which help seniors avoid isolation and loneliness. They both help residents with medication management in addition to assisting residents with the activities of daily living, which includes daily meal preparation and assistance with bathing, dressing, and personal care.
Despite the similarities, the differences between these two models of living are more significant. While assisted living facilities provide a residential model of living where each resident generally has their own apartment-styled living space, skilled nursing facilities provide a model of living based on medical care, which more closely resembles a hospital. Given the greater medical need of skilled nursing facility residents, skilled nursing facilities employ a doctor as their medical director to coordinate medical care for the skilled nursing facility residents. Assisted living facilities, on the other hand, typically employ nurses in addition to unskilled aides in order to care for their residents. Since assisted living facility residents possess a larger degree of independence compared to skilled nursing facility residents, assisted living facilities offer community activities such as yoga classes, movie nights, shopping trips, and other forms of entertainment.
Regardless of what institutional care model is most appropriate, Medicaid’s institutional care program can help defray the costs of an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility. There are financial criteria that must be satisfied in order to qualify for Medicaid’s institutional care program, such as a $2,000 asset cap and a monthly income cap. In order to learn more about how you or your loved one can structure assets in order satisfy these financial criteria, it may be necessary to consult with an Elder Law attorney to review all available options.