In Israel today, there are several housing options for the elderly population, offering different services and suitable for different sectors. When choosing a place for your elderly parents, you will find two main options: a nursing home (beit avot) or a retirement home (diyur mugan).
Even though nursing homes and retirement are both housing solutions for the elderly population, they are in fact two different things. Each targets a different population and provides different services, suited to the needs and functional ability of their target groups. In this article we will discuss the differences between the two.
Retirement homes are designed for independent elderly individuals, who do not need constant medical care. The residents of a retirement home are persons who wish to go on enjoying an independent lifestyle among people their own age, in a safe and secure environment, which also offers social and recreational activities.
Retirement homes provide their independent residents with relatively limited medical services. However, if a resident’s health begins to deteriorate, the home will ensure that he/ she receives all the necessary medical care, and if needed, help move him/ her to a place where appropriate care is provided. Some retirement homes have also established a special ‘supportive wing’ for residents whose health has deteriorated and are experiencing difficulties in some daily functions. Here the resident receives all the care he/ she needs, without leaving the familiar surroundings.
Nursing homes offer services for elderly people who need help in their daily functioning. Since different people have different needs, nursing homes usually include several wings, suitable for elderly individuals with various types and levels of difficulties:
– Frail (t’shushim) – elderly persons with a moderate to intermediate decrease in daily functions who need partial assistance.
– People in need of constant nursing care (siudi) – elderly persons with severe and permanent mobility disabilities, who require assistance in most or all daily functions, within an institution that can provide long-term care and monitoring.
– Mentally frail (t’shushei nefesh) – elderly individuals with no limitations in physical functions but suffering from deterioration in memory, judgement and orientation, and requiring assistance in all daily functions due to their cognitive condition ( For example – people with Alzheimer’s or dementia).
Nursing homes provide all services required by the elderly resident according to his/ her specific condition. These are stipulated in the contract signed with the institution.
Different services entail different costs. Nursing homes usually charge a monthly fee of several thousand NIS.
The price of a retirement home, on the other hand, comprises:
– Payment based on the size of the apartment unit – one, two, or even three rooms. For this, retirement homes offer a broad choice of payment arrangements: some residents purchase the unit, while others prefer to pay via a deposit that is deducted every year until the resident leaves the home.
– An additional monthly fee – charged by most retirement homes to cover municipal taxes (arnona), electricity, water, cleaning services, cultural and recreational activities, medical supervision, etc. This fee does not include any medical treatment that may be needed if the resident’s health deteriorates.
Government assistance towards the expense of a nursing home may be available, depending on the financial ability of the elderly resident and his family. The Ministry of Health can help you obtain a “code” for a nursing home for a mentally frail person or for one who is in need of constant nursing care. the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services can assist those who are defined as “frail”.
Retirement homes, on the other hand, are private institutions targeting independent individuals, most of whom are quite well off financially. Therefore the government does not participate in the expense. However, since residing in a retirement home is considered living in the community, residents are entitled to the same benefits as elderly people who remain in their homes – such as the help of a caregiver through the Long-term Care Insurance Law.