Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are two options on the spectrum of senior housing and senior care. The primary difference between the two is that assisted living is housing that provides some care, while nursing homes are care facilities that also provide housing.
Assisted living helps seniors with self-care
Most assisted living residents don’t need constant supervision. Some assisted living facilities will have a resident nurse, maybe even an onsite health clinic. However, the focus of assisted living is to help residents with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and taking medicines. Emergency medical care is always available through the usual channels.
Assisted living is usually suitable for people who:
- Are open to the idea of getting assistance
- Can benefit from a more socially engaging living environment
- Are able to walk or use mobility devices on their own
- Need a limited amount of supervision or personal care assistance
- Are lucid or have only mild cognitive problems
- Want or need to be free of the responsibilities of home ownership
Nursing homes provide medical care
Nursing homes are mainly for adults with serious medical needs. Many nursing home residents have physical or mental health issues that require attention from nursing professionals. That care must be available 24 hours a day, every day.
Many people in nursing homes stay for just a few months to receive rehabilitative care after incidents such as a stroke, heart attack, or fall.
Nursing home care is often necessary for people who:
- Need daily medical care and/or a lot of personal care assistance
- Aren’t able to walk or get around in other ways without help
- Are too sick or frail for home care
- Need round-the-clock supervision or monitoring
- Have severe problems with incontinence
- Are likely to need frequent visits to the hospital
- Have moderate to severe cognitive problems
- Have complicated medical, emotional, or mental conditions
- Resist when being given assistance
- Display problematic behaviors
Assisted living offers more privacy
While some assisted living communities have shared apartments, most provide a private living space. This can be a great choice for adults who are still independent but may need assistance with their daily routines.
Assisted living homes are meant for fairly independent adults, so they tend to offer more community activities. Popular activities may include yoga classes, singles nights, movie nights, meals in the dining room, and shopping trips.
Nursing homes offer continuous care
Nursing homes generally require shared bedrooms, and their atmosphere might seem more like a hospital than a home. That’s not a bad thing. For those who need frequent medical care, it’s good to have the extra safety net of constant supervision.
Costs & payment options
Assisted living facilities are private pay. Medicare and Medicaid generally do not cover the costs, which can range between $2,500 and $6,700 per month, depending on where you live.
In 2016, the national median cost for a shared room in a nursing home was $6,844 per month and the median cost of a private room was $7,698 per month. Medicare or Medicaid may cover the cost of nursing homes if patients meet the requirements. For those who don’t, private pay is accepted.
Which is best: nursing home or assisted living?
For adults who are still independent – but who may need some help with meals, cleaning, and self-care – assisted living can be an attractive 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 is good for those who need frequent medical attention.
Helping you through the process
If your parent or loved one needs more help than you can provide, contact Oasis Senior Advisors for assistance. We offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way so you can feel confident in your senior housing selection. Deciding to make the move to a long-term care community is an emotional, financial, and physically taxing process, but you don’t have to do it alone.