How Are Assisted Living and Nursing Homes Different?

Senior living communities come in various sizes and shapes, and there is no universal approach for aging loved ones. Many people think of assisted living and nursing house as synonymous, but over the past 30 years the terms have grown apart, and the nursing house is not the senior care catch-all it used to be. What’s the difference between assisted living and nursing homes, look below?

Comparing Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Assisted living communities are a unique choice for older adults who are mostly independent but need some assistance with day-to-day living. Nursing homes are generally designed for seniors who need 24-hour medical supervision due to mental or physical conditions that leave them unable to care for themselves.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is the best housing option for seniors who are no longer capable of living alone but want to maintain a social, active lifestyle. Considering these communities’ 93% satisfaction rate, it is safe to say that assisted living is not what your aging loved one is picturing when they say they do not want to move into a house.

Assisted Living Communities May Offer:

Restaurant-style dining, happy hours, and activities based on resident interest Outings and transportation to local stores, theaters, and museums aid with laundry, housekeeping, and activities of daily living such as medication management, bathing, and grooming that can become daunting to elderly loved ones. The median cost of assisted living in the U.S in 2019 was $4,051 per month. As you consider housing choices for your aging loved one, you should also know that assisted living communities frequently have health standards for admitting new residents. For example, one might have to be able to feed himself or transfer between a bed and a wheelchair without assistance.

Who Can Benefit from Assisted Living?

Assisted living can be the best option for your aging loved one who:

  • Requires minor nursing assistance or medication but do not require full-time medical care
  • Needs aid with daily activities such as dressing and bathing
  • Is interested in a maintenance-free lifestyle without lawn care or house repairs
  • Desires an active life but does not have access to transportation
  • Is looking for new friends or social activities
  • Wants to pursue their passions, like art, golf, or religious studies, in a particularly focused lifestyle community
  • Is currently in best health but knows they will need more aid soon

What is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes also called convalescent houses, or sometimes skilled nursing facilities are for seniors who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance. Typical nursing home residents suffer from severe, debilitating physical, or mental conditions that leave them unable to live independently. They can be bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or in need of daily skilled nursing care. Nursing homes always need a physician’s prescription and physical examination before accepting new residents.

The goal of a nursing home is to make sure the comfort and safety of older adults who require round-the-clock care. Nursing homes offer:

  • Ongoing palliative and preventative long-term care
  • Assistance with housekeeping, laundry, and activities of daily living
  • Prescription medication management and administration, involving injections
  • Specialized rehabilitative services, like speech, cognitive, occupational, physical, respiratory, and vocational therapy
  • Routine dental services and emergency in nursing homes
  • Meal options that will meet the daily nutritional needs
  • Nursing home care can be expensive, the average cost in the U.S in 2019 was $247 per day or $7,512 per month. However, not-for-profit nursing homes can frequently be paid for using government assistance for lower-income residents.

Who Can Benefit from Nursing Home Care?

  • A nursing home can fit the requirements of elderly loved ones who
  • want regular care because of chronic conditions or deteriorating health
  • Can no longer feed themselves independently
  • Have some injury and want rehabilitation
  • Prefer amenities such as nutritious meals and on-site services like religious services, salons, and dental appointments that wouldn’t be available in a home-care setting
  • Desire more daily interaction than in-home nursing care will provide
  • Have conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or MS

What’s the Difference?

People will frequently use the terms of assisted living and nursing home interchangeably, but the two are very different. Let’s take a look at how they line up:
Assisted living facilities are for people who can yet take care of themselves for the most part. They can need or just enjoy having some assistance with cooking, daily household tasks such as cleaning and laundry, and personal care like showering but it is like ordering from a menu you select what you want to aid with. Monthly pricing for this housing is based on the level of assistance you will need. In general, as a resident of an assisted living facility, you will live in a private living space like an apartment or condo, and have a private bathroom and kitchen. Couples are generally able to live together. Sometimes these places allow you to have your car, and almost all of them provide rides to bring you where you need to go like the doctor or the store. You will also enjoy a high level of socialization, with organized trips to museums, movies, and more. Nursing homes offer a higher level of daily care, involving everything from aid getting dressed to using the restroom to getting in and out of bed. You can select to live in a nursing home if you need frequent or daily medical care, or if your capability to get around has lessened and you feel more secure having people check in on you often. Often, family caregivers might select a nursing home when they feel they cannot care for their loved ones well enough anymore. While this type of living situation offers less independence, you will feel well taken care of with round the clock care.

The key difference between assisted living and the nursing home is that nursing homes offer medical and personal care in a clinical setting, while assisted living offers personal care in a home-like, social setting. While some requirements that can’t be met in assisted living, the services and medical care that are provided can make assisted living a worthwhile choice for more seniors than ever before. Since assisted living maximizes the quality of life and provides a more independent lifestyle, it is frequently preferred over nursing home care when possible.