Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes: What’s the Difference?
Are your parents at the point in their lives where they need some additional assistance to maintain their active and independent lifestyle? It’s natural that as our bodies age, we may need more help with daily tasks. Either way, you’re wondering whether it may be time for senior living, assisted living or other types of aging services support.
People often misunderstand the differences between the primary types of living options for seniors.
- Independent living options for people who do not require daily support include continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and 55+ communities.
- Older adults who are facing dementia, age-related declines, or multiple medical issues typically require assisted living, personal care, or nursing homes.
Many older adults wish to age in place, meaning they prefer to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Although this is understandable, it’s important to consider the potential safety risks that may come with remaining at home and seniors’ options for aging services that help maintain a good quality of life.
If you suspect your loved one may no longer be safe living on their own, learning the key differences between assisted living and nursing homes can help you make the most informed decision.
Assisted Living: Independence with support
Assisted living is designed for seniors who wish to maintain a level of independence but require some assistance with daily living activities. It offers a balance between support and autonomy, allowing them to have control over their lives while receiving the help they need when they need it.
There are some key factors and lifestyle aspects of assisted living that differentiate it from nursing homes:
- Personalized Care: When choosing an assisted living community, it’s important to consider the staff-to-resident ratio, caregiving philosophy, commitment to wellness programs, and what is covered in the monthly fee versus charged as an ‘extra.’ Asbury residents receive person-centered care from a dedicated team of associates. This individualized approach ensures that seniors receive the support they require while preserving their independence in other aspects of life.
In a broad sense, assisted living helps people who are experiencing physical or cognitive challenges that require monitoring and support. Tasks that may require additional help – such as driving to appointments, cleaning, doing laundry or preparing meals – should be part of the total package, in addition to moderate support with getting dressed, eating, hygiene, incontinence, and medication management. A person-centered community seeks residents’ opinions in how they want their day to progress and honors that. Caregivers take time to get to know the resident and use that knowledge in their interactions. Wellness professionals create opportunities that align with residents’ backgrounds and hobbies.
- Safety and Accessibility: When researching a community, consider how customized care is offered in a comforting, structured, and monitored environment and how residents’ independence is honored in accordance with their abilities. Asbury communities are designed with seniors’ safety in mind—with features like wheelchair-accessibility, handrails, and emergency call systems to provide prompt assistance if needed. In addition, on-site, 24-hour nursing professionals ensure the health, wellness, and happiness of residents. A trained nursing staff fosters continuity and trust by working with the same residents each day. Monthly in-service training ensures continual learning in providing the latest memory support research and practices.
- Activities and Social Engagement: Offering robust, holistic programming to ensure that all aspects of a resident’s well-being are targeted is key. Participating in various recreational activities, fitness classes, and social events, help residents stay physically and mentally active. Asbury is dedicated to making its communities well-being destinations–because physical, emotional, and cognitive wellness go hand in hand. Our well-being team includes wellness professionals, pastoral care associates, and volunteer and lifestyle enrichment associates. EngAge Well is Asbury’s mission to creating opportunities for older adults to move better, feel better, connect more, and experience more. Central to this is Kinnections Brain Health, a cognitive health assessment and targeted follow-up program.
- Medication Management: Trained staff assist with medication management, ensuring residents take the right dosage at the appropriate times.
- Housekeeping and Maintenance: Assisted living communities handle housekeeping and maintenance tasks, relieving seniors of these responsibilities and allowing them to focus on enjoying life.
Nursing Homes: Comprehensive medical support
Nursing homes are best suited for seniors who have more significant medical needs and require round-the-clock care. Some of the main services of nursing homes to assess include:
- Skilled Nursing Care: Staffed with registered nurses and medical professionals available 24/7 to provide comprehensive medical care, including administering medications, managing chronic conditions, and emergencies.
- Specialized Care Programs: Offer a customized plan for residents with specific medical conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Personal Care Assistance: Provide help with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating for residents who may have difficulty performing these tasks independently.
- Rehabilitation Services: Offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, to help with recovery from injuries or surgeries.
- Safe Environment: Equipped with medical equipment and trained staff to address emergency situations promptly—always with residents’ safety top of mind.
- Therapeutic Recreation: A holistic well-being program with scheduled activities that foster social interaction, creativity, and sensory stimulation.
Is Your Parent Ready for Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?
While there is no one-size-fits-all checklist, there are guidelines for how to help you and your aging parents and loved ones understand the options.
Over nearly a century, Asbury Communities has created new opportunities, enhanced the aging experience, and brought peace of mind for tens of thousands of older adults and their families. Learn more about how Asbury senior living supports aging better through a focus on well-being.