Assisted Living vs Nursing Homes

It is never easy having to decide whether or not to have a loved one stay at an assisted living care facility or a nursing home. However, many families have to face this decision and they typically have limited experience and information about either option. Many people confuse the two and think they’re similar, but the truth is they can be very different when it comes to types of care services, levels of activities, admission requirements, living accommodations, staff, costs and payment options.

What’s the Difference?

The biggest differences between these two types of senior housing centers revolve around medical services provided and the physical appearance of each community. Residents in a nursing home require around the clock care and monitoring. They typically live with more complex health care conditions that require the assistance of a skilled nurse or a physical or speech therapist. Some require respiratory care services. Residents in an assisted living community generally require custodial care. It might be a person who lives with memory loss and isn’t safe living alone. Or an adult with mobility problems who needs a little help transferring from their bed to their favorite chair.

One obvious difference when you tour both a nursing home and an assisted living community is their appearance. While a nursing home generally looks a little like a hospital because of the type of care provided, an assisted living facility usually resembles an upscale apartment community. Nursing home residents are more likely to share a room with another senior, while residents in an assisted living facility usually have their own apartment or suite.

Which is Better?

For adults who are still mostly independent, but may need some help with meals, cleaning and self-care, assisted living can be a great option. It allows seniors to leave the basics up to staff while they enjoy living. Nursing homes are the clear choice for seniors who need more care. Like assisted living facilities, nursing homes offer a sense of community, but their focus is more on medical care, which can be a real blessing for those who need frequent medical attention. So, it really is more a question of which is better for the specific needs of your loved one.