Assisted Living vs Nursing Home: Important Differences

As people age, they need different levels of assistance to maintain their quality of life and remain healthy. This choice usually involves comparing assisted living vs nursing home options.

The choice can be a nuanced one. You may have to weigh current needs and those you expect to have in the future, and the specific services offered by each type of facility.

Here is a closer look at the assisted living vs nursing home comparison and other insights to help when choosing a long-term care facility.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities provide different levels of care depending on each resident’s needs. However, the services focus on promoting and maintaining independence.

Assisted living facilities are non-clinical settings. There are usually nurses on staff to cater to residents’ medical needs, but they do not provide constant care and monitoring. Instead, the focus is on providing for daily needs, such as transportation to events or appointments, meal preparation, cleaning, fitness, and social events or outings. Staff can also aid residents with medications, bathing, dressing, and using medical equipment.

These services help residents maintain their quality of life.

Pros of Assisted Living

  • Independence. The services at these facilities focus on preserving independence by helping with necessary daily tasks.
  • Flexibility. Many assisted living facilities can adapt to different care needs, allowing residents to stay for longer.
  • Social benefits. Residents live in a community environment with access to social events and activities. They can avoid the isolation of living alone.
  • Health benefits. Residents have access to meals, fitness activities, and other services meant to maintain their health.
  • Home-like setting. Assisted living homes typically have accommodations similar to apartments, condos, or even townhomes. These allow for privacy and the ability to enjoy the type of environment you would get in a regular home.

Cons of Assisted Living

  • Cost. Though assisted living facilities are cheaper than many other aged care options, they are normally more costly than living independently at home.
  • Lack of advanced care. Though they can handle basic medical services, assisted living staff are typically not equipped to handle complex medical conditions or provide round-the-clock care or monitoring.
  • Set schedules. Staff usually offer meals, services, and activities on a set schedule. Residents have to abide by this timetable to get these services.

Health Requirements

Residents typically need to meet specific health requirements to enter an assisted living home.

  • Residents need to be ambulatory. They need to be able to walk or move with the assistance of a walker or wheelchair.
  • Residents should not need intensive care. Staff can provide basic care but not round-the-clock service and monitoring.

Some assisted living facilities have specialized wings, such as memory care units. What is the assisted living vs memory care comparison? Both offer the same services and level of care, but memory care units offer specialized services and features like controlled entry and exit for residents with conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

What Are the Costs?

Costs can vary based on the level of care and location. You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,000 per month, with a national average of $4,500 per month.

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home provides 24-hour care to residents. These facilities can accommodate people with terminal illnesses, injuries, or conditions that require extensive care and monitoring. People with limited mobility, significant cognitive issues, and trouble eating and performing other basic tasks typically need the level of care offered in a nursing home.

These facilities may or may not have a physician on staff, but they have 24-hour nursing care, including monitoring, IV treatments, and mobility assistance for people who may be bedridden.

Pros of a Nursing Home

  • Full-time care. A nursing home typically has staff equipped to provide care for people with significant medical needs.
  • Residential setting. Despite the clinical services, most nursing homes have residential features, such as private or shared rooms, dining rooms, and social events and activities.
  • Socialization. Nursing home residents can socialize with other residents. They avoid the isolation of living alone at home or staying in a hospital.
  • Family access. Family members can visit nursing home residents and spend their time interacting instead of providing care themselves.

Cons of a Nursing Home

  • Lack of freedom. Nursing homes offer scheduled meal times and social activities. However, they do not have the same level of independence as assisted living facilities.
  • Costs. Because of the level of care, nursing homes are more expensive than other types of care facilities
  • Inconsistent quality. Some nursing homes suffer from issues like poor care, accusations of abuse, and other forms of neglect or mistreatment. It is essential to research facilities before choosing one for yourself or your loved one.

Health Requirements

Residents do not need to be able to move under their own power. They may require round-the-clock nursing care However, nursing homes do not always have physicians on staff. Those who need surgical care or advanced medical equipment need hospital care.

What are the Costs?

Nursing home care costs $7,500 to $9,000 per month, but it can vary based on location and level of care. However, nursing homes often accept insurance, such as Medicaid, to help cover costs.

What Are the Differences Between the Two?

The difference between the two are:

  • Assisted living facilities offer support and services for active residents, while nursing homes provide services for those needing more medical care.
  • Assisted living typically involves apartment or condo-style living, while nursing homes have private or shared rooms.
  • Assisted living costs average $4,500 per month, while nursing homes are $9,000 on average.
  • Assisted living homes provide basic assistance, meals, and transportation, while nursing homes offer more involved care, including medical services and assistance with eating, mobility, and other basics.

How to Choose Assisted Living or Nursing Home

Choosing a long-term care facility requires assessing your needs or the needs of your loved one and finding a place that offers the required level of care.

Rather than trying to research the many options on your own, you can work with Care Weavers on the care community selection process. We can assist in selecting a care option based on your current needs and the trajectory of health conditions, diseases, and other factors.

Contact us to start the process of selecting the best care facility for your needs.