Gandhi once said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Well, our society has come up with various methods to take care of its elderly. But today we will be focusing on the different types of nursing homes around the world. Each country has a slightly different classification about the elderly care and nursing homes it offers so this is going to be somewhat of a general overview.
Typically, these facilities can be divided into 4 main types with a variety of different subtypes. The main types generally are nursing homes, assisted living communities, independent living facilities and continuing care retirement communities. The main difference between these types usually has to do with how much care the elderly person receives.
Skilled nursing facilities also known as nursing homes are probably the most recognized type of elderly care facilities. They typically provide 24-hour health care by professionals. Besides health care, they may also provide daily care, dietary counseling, therapy and so on. It is important to note that besides the standard type nursing homes there are also specialized ones for elders with dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar conditions. Nursing homes are a popular option in countries such as Italy, Iceland and the UK.
Going to the other end of the spectrum with one of the least restrictive types of long-term care facilities – independent living. They are normally set up as a specialized neighborhood for the elderly with houses or flats. Most offer community activities, meals and some even offer laundry and cleaning services. Of course, usually there are also medical facilities on site. Normally you would have to buy or rent a house or an apartment in the neighborhood and pay a monthly fee as well. These types of independent living facilities are preferred in countries like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Assisted living communities are the next level of independent living facilities. In other words, the elderly get help with their daily tasks to a greater degree. Assisted living will help elders with meals, bathing, dressing or even provide supervision. Many will offer emergency first aid or pharmacy services as well. This is great for those senior citizens who need just a little bit of extra help. Assisted living is popular in countries such as the USA, Germany, France and Canada.
And lastly, continuing care retirement communities which offer the advantages of the previously mentioned facilities. The idea behind them is creating an all-in-one-community. Imagine the area where the community is, divided into different parts so the elderly are housed accordingly. For example, those with minimal needs and difficulties are in one part of the area, and those with more extensive needs – in another. The benefit of these types of communities is that senior citizens are moved from one part of the facility to the other in accordance with their needs, rather than having to find a whole new elderly care facility. They are found mostly in the USA but they are coming to European soil with Spain being the first European country to try out this type of community.
It should be noted that there have been numerous reports on the benefits of elders living in a type of assisted living compared to them living at home or in the care of their families. Senior citizens who are living in communities or in the care of specialists are reportedly happier and generally healthier than those living at home with their families. It’s interesting that for many southern European and Asian countries the most common elderly care solution is for the family to take care of their elders at home.
However, these facilities are not the only option. If the senior citizen prefers to stay home and their condition allows it, hiring a carer is also a possibility. Unfortunately, unlike with nursing homes there is very little information available on professional carers not only in Bulgaria but in general as well. They have no online presence or any organization for that matter and finding information about professional carers can prove to be quite the challenge.