Best For My Parents | 5 Major Differences between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities

5 Major Differences between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities

5 Major Differences between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities

As our family members age, we’re often faced with decisions regarding their care, and choosing the right care option for your parents or other loved one can be a difficult task. And this task can be made even more difficult if you’re not entirely certain what types of options are available to you. For example, like many others, you might believe that a nursing home and an assisted living facility are one and the same. But there are actually significant differences between the two. Here are 5 things that separate these two elder care options.

Types of Care Provided

Nursing homes and assisted living communities provide different levels of care, because they’re designed to cater to residents with very different needs. Nursing home residents usually require around-the-clock care and ongoing medical assistance. This means that staff members are often licensed nurses and therapists who can care to the extensive needs of these residents.

On the other hand, residents in assisted living communities typically don’t require the same level of in-depth care. They usually require assistance with daily tasks, but don’t necessarily need a nurse’s aid on a regular basis. For example, individuals who have some mobility issues and need help getting around and tending to personal hygiene needs are frequent residents of assisted living communities. There, they can receive the day-to-day help they need, but can maintain a certain amount of independence as well.

Facility Design

Obviously, every care facility is going to differ in design and layout. But, generally speaking, nursing homes have a design that feels more institutional, due to the type of care that they provide. Because they offer a level of medical assistance that is nearly on par with a hospital, it’s not unusual for it to have a hospital-like appearance. Nursing home residents are also more likely to share a room with another resident.

Assisted living communities, however, tend to feel more residential and can have the appearance of an upscale apartment complex. Residents typically have their own rooms, which they’re free to decorate and customize within the facility’s guidelines.

Resident Activities

Again, this will vary from one facility to the next; but the majority of nursing homes and assisted living facilities try to provide daily activities for their residents. However, the frequency and variety of these activities will vary widely between nursing homes and assisted living communities. In a nursing home, activities tend to be more limited, because residents don’t typically have the physical capabilities needed for many activities. They might have board games, movie nights, and other group activities, but they tend to be limited to events that can be conducted within the facility.

Because residents in assisted living communities tend to be more able-bodied than those in nursing homes, you’ll typically find a wider variety of activities available in this type of facility. Extensive recreational activities are not uncommon, and the community may even offer occasional events that are held away from the facility’s grounds; in these cases, they usually provide transportation for residents as well.

Outside Areas

In addition to being different in their interior layouts, you’ll also find that these two types of care facilities have very different grounds. In a nursing home, the great majority of residents are not independently mobile, and may even be confined to a bed. Because of this, outside areas are very limited for most nursing homes, and some may have none at all.

Assisted living communities tend to have extensive common areas and well-maintained grounds for the residents to enjoy. This allows those residents who are able to move independently to walk the grounds at their leisure, while others may be pushed through the grounds in a wheelchair by a staff member or visiting family member.

Payment Options

When considering senior care for your family member, cost and payment options are always a major consideration. While price varies by facility and is often based on your loved one’s specific needs, a nursing home tends to cost quite a bit more than an assisted living community. This is simply due to the level of care that nursing homes provide. However, if nursing home care is a necessity for your loved one, you can often work with a Medicaid planner to ease the financial load.

Assisted living communities typically cost less than a nursing home, but you will most likely pay these expenses out of pocket. Some financial assistance may be available through VA pensions, and some states offer Medicaid support for this as well.

If you’re trying to determine what type of facility is right for your loved one, contact Best for My Parents. We’ll help match you with a facility that meets your family member’s needs at a price you can afford.