Senior Rehab Centers vs Nursing Homes for Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you want to choose long-term care for a senior family member or a loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder (SUD), picking the right type of facility is essential. Two of the most common options for the elderly include a nursing home and a rehabilitation center, with several differences between the two.1

In the past, dealing with alcohol and drug abuse was received with a lot of stigma. So, in some cases, both rehab nursing homes and rehab facilities have to carefully approach their senior members to help them achieve sobriety and spend their golden years as independently as possible.2

However, understanding the difference when it comes to skilled nursing facilities v.s rehab centers might be crucial if you want to help your senior family member get adequate treatment.1


What is a Senior Rehabilitation Center? 

Alcohol and drug rehab centers help struggling individuals get help for their SUD. Most offer many options that can successfully help treat addiction, such as behavioral counseling, detox, different forms of inpatient and outpatient treatment, and dual diagnosis for co-occurring mental health problems. Some drug rehab centers are specialized for a particular age group, including some senior rehabilitation centers that help with SUD.3

At the treatment center, the first step in the intake process is assessment, after which you can expect a professional to explain what to expect when going to rehab and advise you on the type of treatment required. All rehab centers are entirely confidential to help keep the privacy of all of their clients.4,5

Pros and Cons of Senior Rehab Centers 

There are many factors that can help a successful recovery, but finding the best rehab near you is one of the prerequisites.

Rehab centers offer the following advantages:1

However, there are some disadvantages to be mindful of:1

  • Seniors may experience a few obstacles when going into treatment. When it comes to elderly citizens, changing their environment can be one of the problems.
  • Perhaps the biggest issue seems to be the stigma that senior clients have with the term ‘rehab’. A great number of seniors still fear that others would look down upon them because of their struggles.

Despite this, most people today support people courageous enough to get help for themselves. Going to senior rehabilitation centers near you can help you start over, no matter your age.1

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is a facility that helps provide long-term care, whether personal or nursing, for individuals who cannot care for themselves. While most clients of nursing homes are the elderly, there may be some younger people at these facilities, as well.1

Rehab nursing homes are specialized in providing help for the elderly struggling with substance abuse. Most of them fall into one of the two categories, which are private and public.1

Pros and Cons of Nursing Homes

Nursing homes offer meaningful advantages:1

  • Overall, nursing homes tend to be easily accessible. There are often several nursing homes in most locations, even in small towns. If you’re looking for rehab nursing homes near you, chances are you’ll find at least one just around the corner.
  • As they are so widespread, family visits are much easier to organize.
  • Nursing homes are focused on long-term treatment.
  • These facilities also provide 24/7 care for all of their patients and the staff specializes in helping the elderly.

However, there are also disadvantages to take into consideration:1

  • Many seniors may have a hard time adapting to this new living environment and may not feel comfortable there, especially at the beginning.
  • The biggest downside of nursing homes in the context of addiction treatment is that they do not usually provide in-house treatment for substance abuse, unless they are specialized in this type of care.

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Skilled rehab facilities provide help for clients in need of rehab after a hospital discharge. They mostly provide short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation care, but many offer temporary housing and medical care for older adults.1

The staff at a skilled nursing rehab near your area will help evaluate you or your senior loved one and help understand the specific rehab goals. This can help create an adequate care plan, including the length of treatment or the rehab services required.1

What Is the Difference Between a Nursing Home and a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Nursing homes provide 24/7 inpatient care for senior citizens that cannot take care of themselves. On the other hand, skilled nursing facilities offer short-term rehabilitation for the elderly who may not need to be constantly looked after.1

Also, while nursing homes are easily accessible, skilled rehab facilities offer additional care for patients who have been discharged after a hospital stay.1

Alcoholism in the Elderly

Alcohol abuse is on the rise among the population older than 60 years. In fact, about 20% of senior adults aged between 60-64, as well as 11% of people older than 65, drink an excessive amount of alcohol in a short time span (binge drinking).6

Alcohol abuse is especially dangerous for the elderly. This is because of a few factors, such as6:

  • Increased alcohol sensitivity: The older the body is, the lower its tolerance for alcohol.
  • Increased health problems: Older adults are more prone to several health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, mood disorders, and liver problems.
  • Bad interactions with certain medications: Seniors usually have to take many medications, most of which can be deadly when mixed with alcohol.

Substance Abuse in the Elderly

Unfortunately, the number of seniors with substance abuse is rising. In 2018, there were about 1 million adults older than 65 living with SUD in the U.S. Most of the reported SUD cases were people abusing prescription medicine and opioid pain medicine. Considering that between 4% and 9% of people older than 65 use prescription opioid medication, the numbers aren’t that surprising.7

In 2016, about 2.9% of people aged 65 or older reported using marijuana. Additionally, about a quarter of them tried using cannabis for medical purposes, despite the many risks marijuana has for elderly people. About 8 in every 100 senior adults smokes cigarettes, making them at a higher risk of several forms of cancer.7

Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers for Elderly 

Inpatient drug rehab centers are facilities that help people overcome their SUD in a controlled environment. They help individuals get better without having them distracted by their regular lives.3

While there are some short-term rehab facilities near you, inpatient drug facilities recommend undergoing treatment under 90-day programs, as they can provide you with constant care and a professional team that can help prevent relapses, which can be deadly in older adults.3

Specialized inpatient drug rehab centers can help seniors get treatment for their SUD without having to go to a nursing home for alcoholism or people struggling with drug abuse. Most are specialized, with trained professionals that know how to help not just individuals battling addiction, but the elderly who might have more extensive needs compared to younger patients.1

If your loved one is older than 65 and you fear for their safety due to their SUD, you may contact a recognized treatment provider to discuss the individual needs and treatment requirements. For instance, American Addiction Centers is at your disposal for any questions you may have about substance abuse, treatment, and factors unique to the elderly.

Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Rehab Centers for Elderly

Outpatient rehab centers are usually more affordable. They are typically recommended for people who underwent inpatient therapy or individuals with mild SUD. They help provide therapy and support for people struggling to stay sober.3

For elderly clients, outpatient rehab centers can help senior citizens receive treatment for their SUD while they are still living in a home they are comfortable in. Many can even help them get treatment without having to leave the nursing home they are currently residing in.1

You may contact AAC to see whether your elderly loved one is in need of outpatient therapy, and how to provide them with adequate care.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Elderly

Mental health and SUD are tightly connected, as most people struggling with substance abuse also suffer from some co-occurring mental health issues. The biggest numbers are among military veterans and PTSD is the most prevalent mental health disorder.8

Another two of the common mental health issues in the elderly are depression and anxiety, and both go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Bipolar disorder is also common, although it often goes undiagnosed. Fortunately, most residential treatment centers can help provide help for both substance abuse and mental health issues.9,10

How to Find Nursing Homes or Senior Rehab Facilities Near Me? 

When searching for nursing homes and rehabilitation centers near you, you have to consider certain features, such as the program length, available treatment options, payment options, and various amenities.3

If your senior family member has to get outpatient treatment, it might be a good idea to look for a skilled rehab facility near you. These can help with the commute. On the other hand, going out of state may also be a great option, especially if this means getting the best treatment possible. Just remember that it might help recovery if family members are able to visit their elderly loved ones as often as possible.11

If you’re looking for senior rehabilitation centers near you, AAC can help. We have acclaimed nursing and rehabilitation centers statewide, including:

If you’re looking to gain some insight into patients’ experiences at our facilities, there are multiple testimonials available online that you can explore. In some cases, we can arrange the same-day intake and our team of professionals will always guide you through the admission process. We also offer specialty options, such as luxury rehab with an added level of comfort.

You can call an AAC helpline and discuss specific needs you or your loved one have. You can also use our directory and search by location.

Does Insurance Cover Senior Rehab Nursing Homes or Facilities? 

There are plenty of state-funded rehabs in the U.S. and a great number of them are covered by all large medical insurance carriers, including Medicare. Medicare may even cover the costs of skilled rehab facilities, but to be eligible, your loved one should enter the facility no more than 30 days after being discharged from a hospital. The hospital stay should have lasted 3 days or longer.13

If you’re still unsure whether you are eligible, AAC can help. We can help you verify your insurance and let you know which payment options are available. You may contact us via phone or the contact form below.


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