The Differences between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

July 22, 2019

If you aren’t sure about differences between assisted living and nursing homes, this information will help you learn more.

When a senior in the family begins to require a little extra help, sometimes their loved ones can be confused about what type of care they need and how to find it. Because the differences in senior living aren’t always obvious, deciding between an assisted living community or a nursing home can be challenging.

People don’t always know that these are two very different types of senior care. Adult children who haven’t been through the process of finding senior living for a family member often think an assisted living community is just a more upscale version of a nursing home.

There are many myths surrounding senior living that further complicate the issue. It’s no wonder families end up confused and unsure about what type of care is the best solution for their loved one.

To help make your search a little easier, we’ll explain the differences between an assisted living community and a nursing home while also dispelling the most common myths.

Dispelling Myths About Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Myth: The only difference between a nursing home and an assisted living community is their appearance. Both types of senior living offer the same care and services.

Fact: While these two kinds of senior housing typically differ in appearance, the primary contrast is in the types of care and services that are offered. That’s why it is important to learn a little more about each one.

Assisted living communities are home to older adults who need support with life’s daily activities. Some require assistance with personal care (e.g., bathing, grooming, and dressing) and many need help with medication management. These communities are also known for providing well-balanced meals, and a variety of life-enrichment programs every day.

A nursing home is designed for those who require medical care delivered by skilled health care professionals. For example, it would be a solution for a senior who needs skilled nursing assistance with a wound that won’t heal or an older adult with a tracheotomy that requires respiratory therapy.

Myth: Seniors who need help with medication can only go to a nursing home, not an assisted living community.

Fact: While nursing homes do provide medication management services, so do most assisted living communities. In fact, most assisted living residents receive some type of medication support. Considering some older take 5 or more medications/supplements each day, it’s easy to understand why this service is standard in most assisted living communities.

Myth: Only wealthy people can afford an assisted living community.

Fact: This persistent myth might be caused by seniors and their families not understanding all of the services included in the monthly fee. As they learn more, they discover what a true value assisted living can be.

Many of the expenses associated with maintaining a private home are included in the basic monthly fee at an assisted living community—room and board, utilities, basic cable, local phone service, some transportation, healthy meals and snacks, housekeeping, lawn care, and snow shoveling. Other expenses that are often part of the monthly fee are fitness classes and life-enrichment programs.

Myth: Assisted living and nursing home residents don’t have much to do beyond watching television and playing bingo.

Fact: Both assisted living communities and nursing homes offer a variety of daily activities. They tend to be programs that nurture the body, mind, and spirit. The difference is that activities in nursing homes are designed to work around the medical needs and limitations of residents. Some even offer one-on-one activities, such as reading, with nursing home residents who aren’t mobile.

Myth: The food is always terrible in senior communities.

Fact: This is another popular myth that simply isn’t true, especially for assisted living communities. While nursing home residents may have special dietary needs, such as pureed foods, the staff tries to make them both nutritious and delicious.

Assisted living communities often employ chefs to plan menus and supervise cooking. Residents typically have a choice of several menu options at each meal. Because dining rooms are usually restaurant-style, mealtime is often a social affair that residents look forward to each day.

Senior Living Options at Legacy

If you aren’t quite sure what type of care your senior loved one needs, we’ll be happy to help make that determination. With options ranging from independent and assisted living or personal care to memory care and respite, our team knows and understands how to help older adults find the support they need to live their best life. Call us at (423) 478-8071 today!