Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes (What are the Differences)

As loved ones start to age you may be in the process of thinking about long-term care options and what the best choices are when it comes to a family member or other loved ones that may need care. The first thing you need to consider is the level of care and your situation. We will explain the main differences between assisted living vs. nursing homes and how to make the best decision based on your needs.

This guide will explain the main differences of the two facilities and also help to shed light on how to pick the best one based on your needs.

What are the major differences between assisted living and nursing homes?

What are the main differences between assisted living vs. nursing homes? Assisted living facilities have a residential environment feel while a nursing home has a more medical environment and feel. The main difference between the two is that assisted living facilities are for those that do not need as much help on a daily basis but still require some help and supervision. Nursing homes are for people that require 24/7 help with cooking, dressing, medication, and another daily task that they cannot do on their own.

Assisted living

Assisted living is a type of housing that has different types of personal care that do also includes medical care as well. Living courters can be that of apartments, individual rooms, or shared rooms. These types of living facilities have a more homely feel and are designed to give the person in the assisted living facility a more independent lifestyle.

Services offered within an assisted living facility

It should be noted that services can vary from state to state and facility to facility but most often you can find the following services:

  • Medication monitoring
  • Meals (one to three a day)
  • Light housekeeping
  • emergency care (24-7)
  • Recreational activities
  • Personal care like bathing and dressing
  • Some medical services

Nursing homes

Nursing homes are more for people that need medical care and can not stay within their home for various reasons. Nursing homes have nurses that are on hand for 24 hours a day to help care for the people that live at the nursing homes.

Nursing homes in some areas are even set up more like a hospital allowing the staff to perform medical care easier. Some nursing homes operate more like a home feel for there residents and staff is even encourged to build relationships with the residents of the home.

There can be special areas within the nursing home to care for more specific needs of the patient like Alzheimer’s disease. These types of facilities offer help for anyone that needs 24-7 help so it is not just for the elderly.

Services offered by nursing homes

While some nursing homes may offer different services these are some of the basic services you can expect from a nursing home.

  • Private or shared room
  • Social activities
  • Meals
  • 24/7 nursing supervision
  • Necessary medical care

Add on or additional services at a cost

  • Dental services
  • Rehab services like respiratory, speech, physical, occupational
  • Pharmacy (Onsite)
  • Provide personal care items
  • Respiratory care
  • Terminally ill like hospice
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Alzheimer’s

Recreational activity

What is the difference in recreational activity in an assisted living vs nursing home facility? Let’s find out the differences.

Assisted living facilities

Assisted living facilities offer more recreational activities than nursing homes in general. Most assisted living facilities offer social and physical activities that are really great in maintaining a healthy mind and body. You could find some of these types of recrational activities in an assited living community:

  • Yoga or chair yoga
  • Swimming
  • Meditation
  • Gardening
  • Spin class
  • Game night
  • Cards
  • and more

Nursing home activity

There are activities in nursing homes as well. They can be the following but depending on the nursing home you could find the following types of activities.

  • Cooking
  • musical activities
  • Excursions
  • Gardening
  • Knitting
  • Certain types of clubs
  • Art
  • Exercise

Difference in meals from Assisted living and a Nursing home

Meals play a big roll in choosing an assisted living facility or nursing home. Here is what you can expect in terms of meals for both.

Assisted living

The main difference in assisted living vs. nursing homes when speaking about cooking is that in assisted living facilities residents can cook for themselves in they have their own kitchenets. or they can take meals in the dinning community rooms.

Nursing homes

In a nursing home the residents do not cook meals. Instead they are cooked by dieticians for the residents. They can however eat in their own rooms or in a community dining room.

Cost differences from assisted living and nursing homes

The cost difference between these two types of care is big. The cost of nursing home care is expences in fact an article done by the American Healthcare Association reports that the cost for nursing care is almost double the price of assisted living care.

so what can you expect to pay for these tyeps of care? These numbers can differ depending on where you live and by facility but an average cost would be:

  • Nursing home care cost: $89,000 for the year
  • Assisted living facility cost: $48,000 for the year

What are the differences in how to pay for these services?

A popular question for those looking for services like nursing homes or assisted living facilities is will insurance cover the cost of these services?

Traditional Medicare will not cover all of the costs associated with nursing home costs but may cover some of the expenses. But it is known that for those the need to be in a nursing facility for over 20 days you will have to typically cover the expenses yourself. and other professionals suggest that if possible to invest in your long-term care by insurance policies that would cover that costs. But each plan will differ so we recommend contacting a professional about this. Some policies can include home care, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

How do you know what type of facility is right for you or a loved one?

It really comes down to you or your loves one health and how much help he or she would need with daily day-to-day operations. Ask yourself some of these questons:

  • How much help do you need daily?
  • Can you cook for yourself?
  • Can you bathe yourself?
  • Can you dress?
  • Do you require any medical care because of decreased health?
  • How do you plan on paying for this kind of service?

If you require a lot of help and need more care to handle cooking, bathing, and other routine tasks then a nursign home may be better suited for you or a loved one.

If you can still handle these types of task then as assisted living facility might be your best choice.

Things you should look for when choosing either an assisted living or nursing home facility

No that you are aware of the differences of assisted living vs. nursing homes here are some things you should keep in mind before making a choose.

  • Make sure the facility is state-licensed
  • What medical pros are on staff
  • Has the facility been inspected by a healthcare agency and can you view these reports?
  • If an emergency happens what is the procedure?
  • Can your primary doctor visit you at the facility if need be?
  • How are medications given?
  • What activities are provided?
  • What services are included in the basic cost?
  • What add ons or extras can you get and at what price?
  • Tour the facility and notice how the residents look. Do they seem happy?
  • Notice the staff and how they act
  • Ask about turnover rate with staff? Is it high?
  • Review the contract so you fully undertand what is incompassed and involved

Our final thoughts

We know making this decision is not easy and in-fact it can be some of the most difficult ones to make especially for a loved one.

Like we have stated above if you or a loved one is in fair shape and only requires some help daily an assisted living facility may be a good choice. For those that need intensive help or help 24/7 then a nursing home will probably be your best bet.

Once you have made your decision take a more detailed look at the facility and don’t rush the choice. Make sure you review the contract, tour the facility, ask questions. Also, make sure the options meet your final budget.

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About ASmith

Adam Smith is the main researcher and contributor at Mobility Medical Supply. Adam has many years of research in public data, and software security. With Mobility issues within Adam's family, he decided to dedicate in-depth guides on mobility products to anyone looking to improve movement and gain independence.