Nursing Homes vs Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

Nov 23, 2023

Nursing homes vs assisted living communities—how are they different?

Read on to find out.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities provide a long-term residential setting for active seniors ready to retire from living on their own but still want independence. You can choose from private studios or shared apartments, ensuring a space that suits individual needs and preferences. While not requiring round-the-clock nursing care, these communities provide assistance with daily tasks like dressing and personal care, as well as medication management when necessary. Plus, on-site staff are available 24/7 for added peace of mind.

Assisted living communities also offer an array of services and amenities to enhance residents’ quality of life. From exercise and wellness programs to delicious meals and transportation services, everything is designed to promote health, happiness, and social connections.

If your loved one has a specific medical condition like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, some communities have designated wings or units that cater to their unique needs, ensuring specialized memory care and support.

Who Can Benefit Most From Assisted Living Communities?

Assisted living communities are designed for active, social seniors in good health who still need a bit of help with daily tasks. If you or your loved one can answer “yes” to questions like needing minor nursing assistance, wanting a maintenance-free lifestyle, and wanting friends and social activities within walking distance, then assisted living could be a great fit.

These communities focus on senior wellness, providing consistent intellectual stimulation, and fostering meaningful social connections. With a little daily help with dressing and bathing, you can maintain your sense of independence and enjoy a vibrant community that meets your needs.

What Is a Nursing Home?

Unlike assisted living complexes, nursing homes have a more hospital-like environment to ensure the best care possible. They cater to two types of residents: those who need short-term rehabilitation after a hospital stay, and those who require ongoing care and supervision for physical conditions. Nursing homes aren’t just about medical support—they also offer a wide range of additional services, from palliative care and mobility assistance to nutritional services and therapy.

    Who Can Benefit Most From a Nursing Home?

    If your loved one has chronic injuries or requires round-the-clock nursing care, a nursing home can be an excellent choice. They not only provide help with daily living but also offer specialized care to improve their quality of life. A nursing home might also be ideal If your loved one is experiencing any of the following health conditions:


    • Limited mobility
    • Chronic illness
    • Diminished ability to eat independently

    Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

    Understanding the differences between assisted living and nursing homes can help you choose the right option for your loved one. Both options provide supportive services such as assistance with daily tasks, medication management, and enrichment activities.

    The main difference lies in the level of medical and assistive services provided. Assisted living is ideal for loved ones who need general custodial care, such as help with cooking and cleaning. On the other hand, nursing homes are designed for those who require 24-hour nursing care and monitoring.

    Assisted living communities provide a comfortable and independent lifestyle, allowing seniors to maintain their privacy and autonomy while receiving necessary support. They focus on promoting wellness through activities and nutrition, ensuring a happy and healthy environment for residents.

    Nursing homes, on the other hand, offer intensive medical care for seniors with complex healthcare needs. With 24-hour nursing, the residents receive constant attention and specialized assistance to manage their conditions. Ultimately, the choice depends on an individual’s specific needs and preferences.

    If your loved one needs help with activities but wants to remain active and engaged in a friendly community atmosphere, stop by and visit us—we’ll show you around!

    How to Choose the Best Care Facility for Your Loved One

    Below are some tips to help your loved one choose the best type of care to meet their needs:

      Consider What’s Important to Them

      First things first, think about what’s important to your loved one. Do they prefer a facility with a religious affiliation or a diverse culinary experience? Maybe being close to family and friends is their top priority, or perhaps they love the idea of a bustling community with fun activities and plenty of outings.

      Remember, the choice should cater to their unique needs and desires. If they’re a social butterfly, go for a facility that offers communal spaces and scheduled activities to keep them engaged and connected. On the other hand, if food is their love language, opt for a place with a wide variety of tasty meals to satisfy their inner foodie. In the end, finding the perfect senior care facility is all about finding a place that feels like home. Take your time, visit different options, and make sure it aligns with what matters most to your loved one.

        Ask Around

        Talking to your loved ones’ doctor, relatives, former colleagues, and friends can be helpful in finding the best fit for your needs. First-hand recommendations and suggestions can give you valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.

          Research Online

          Go online and explore the websites of your favorite places to get valuable information and help you find answers to your important questions. You can also read online reviews to see what people have to say about different facilities and communities.

            Schedule a Visit

            Take the time to tour different communities and meet with the directors. Bring a checklist and ask important questions about Medicare/Medicaid certification, the resident-to-staff ratio, and who administers medications. Ask how long the director, head nurse, or other key staff members have been working there. A high turnover rate could indicate potential issues. Take note of any strong odors during the visit. It’s important to identify if they are covering up problems or if there are underlying issues. Review the policies, procedures, and costs at home. This will give you ample time to ensure everything aligns with your needs and expectations.

              Key Takeaways

              Deciding whether your loved one needs a nursing home vs assisted living can be a difficult decision. If you think that an assisted living community is the right choice for your family member, consider Fairmont Senior Living. At Fairmont, we take pride in our commitment to providing the highest quality of care tailored to each resident’s individual needs.

              What really sets us apart is our Montessori-Inspired Lifestyle approach. We believe that residents should have the opportunity to thrive and participate in activities that bring them joy, purpose, and independence. Our team of knowledgeable staff ensure that each resident receives personalized care and attention. Contact us today to schedule your tour.