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Assisted Living Facility vs. Nursing Home: What's the Difference?


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If your family is considering a senior living community for your aging parent or relative, you know you have a lot of different options to choose from. Some families believe an assisted living facility and nursing home are the same thing, but there are quite a few important differences between these two types of communities.

The primary difference is that assisted living facilities provide personal care in a home-like setting, while nursing homes provide medical and personal care in a clinical setting. You should consider all options and determine which type of facility is best suited for your parent or relative when seeking senior placement.


What is an assisted living facility?


An assisted living facility is a housing facility for people who need help with daily care and can no longer live independently. Residents of these types of facilities still maintain an active and social lifestyle. They typically live in their own apartments or rooms and share common areas such as a dining hall, viewing rooms, and outdoor areas with other residents.

The staff provides direct care for residents by helping them bathe, dress, transfer, and medicate among other services, all under 24-hour supervision. Some of these facilities also offer memory care services for seniors with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s. The goal of assisted living facilities is to provide a holistic experience that meets residents' physical, mental, and emotional health needs and provides much-needed social stimulation from other seniors.


What is a nursing home?


Nursing homes provide a wide range of health and personal care services and focus more on medical care than assisted living facilities. Like assisted living facilities, they offer residents three meals a day, 24-hour supervision, and a staff that assists with everyday activities. Nursing home residents may not be able to live independently because of debilitating physical or mental conditions that require daily skilled nursing care.

Rehabilitation services are available for residents such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Some nursing homes require a physical examination and a physician’s prescription before accepting new patients.


Nursing home vs. assisted living facility: Factors to consider


1. Cost


Because the residents in nursing homes require more medical care and attention, they cost more than assisted living facilities. Typically, assisted living facilities cost approximately $4,000 a month while nursing homes tend to cost approximately $7,440 a month, although some of these costs may be covered by Medicare.


2. Living spaces


Assisted living facilities have private or shared apartment-style arrangements and extensive common areas and outdoor grounds. These units typically have a kitchen and bathroom, allowing residents to cook, host, and take care of themselves. The rooms also tend to be more spacious in an assisted living setting.

Nursing homes have private or shared rooms and more limited common areas and outdoor grounds. As residents may need more medical attention and are not as mobile, their rooms are typically smaller and more commonly shared with another resident. Because these residents are providing less care for themselves, their rooms do not have kitchens.


3. Amenities and services


Both assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer assistance with daily activities, but patients in nursing homes require more extensive personal and medical care. Some assisted living residents may need very little support when they first arrive.

Additionally, assisted living facilities offer more recreational activities and programs. These communities place a great focus on stimulation and involvement, so there are always classes, activities, speakers, demonstrations, movies, and other activities available for residents.


Consult a trusted senior placement specialist to explore your options.

If you’re unsure whether an assisted living facility or nursing home is better for your parent or relative, Welcome Home Senior Services & Placement Co. is here to help. We proudly represent over 500 senior communities in Miami-Dade, Broward, the Palm Beaches, the Florida Keys, and Lee and Collier Counties. Contact us today for senior placement guidance and help with your assisted living facility search.

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