Best For My Parents | Nursing Homes vs Assisted Living: Understanding the Similarities and Differences

Nursing Homes vs Assisted Living: Understanding the Similarities and Differences

Nursing Homes vs Assisted Living: Understanding the Similarities and Differences

When it’s time to place a loved one in a senior care, it’s important that you select the right kind of facility and the right level of care for their individual needs. While many people use terms like “nursing home” and “assisted living facility” interchangeably, there are actually many differences between these two types of care facilities. It’s vital that you understand the similarities and differences so that you can ensure you are selecting the right kind of care for your loved one.

Our online assessment can help you to find the right facility for your parent or other senior family member. You can fill it out here. In the meantime, keep reading to learn the differences between a nursing home and an assisted living facility.


First, let’s discuss how these two types of facilities are similar. Obviously, both types of facilities are focused on providing the necessary care for their residents, and providing a safe, comfortable atmosphere in which elderly individuals can live in the latter years of their lives. Here are some other key features and services that most nursing homes and assisted living facilities have in common.

Managing Medications

Both types of facilities will be able to help your loved one manage their medications. Often, senior citizens may have a difficult time remembering the proper dosage of their prescriptions, or may forget whether or not they’ve taken their dose already that day. The staff will keep detailed records regarding the medications your family member is receiving, the proper dosage, and the frequency with which those medications need to be taken. This will help ensure your loved one is receiving the medicine they need.

Activities and Enrichment

Loneliness and a lack of life-enriching activities are common among seniors living alone. Both types of facilities provide various activities to help encourage socialization among residents, as well as provide enrichment to their lives. The exact activities provided will vary by facility, regardless of whether it is an assisted living center or nursing home.

Basic Care Services

Nursing homes and assisted living communities alike provide basic care services for all residents. These typically include laundry, room cleaning, and similar tasks that many elderly individuals may have struggled with in their own homes. In some assisted living communities, these types of services are optional, based on your loved one’s individual capabilities.

Proper Nutrition

All senior care facilities will provide meal services for their residents. While the exact style of the meal service may vary, any good care facility will ensure that residents’ nutritional needs are met with healthy, wholesome, and well-balanced meals throughout the day.


So, now that you understand how these two facility types are similar, let’s discuss how they are different. The primary difference between these is based on the level of care that the residents require. Here’s what you need to know.

Level of Care Provided

Nursing homes are designed to provide more intensive, around-the-clock care for residents with more serious medical needs. They may require respiratory services, or constant care from a skilled nurse. Most nursing home residents aren’t capable of doing very much independently.

Assisted living communities, on the other hand, are designed for residents who may need a little extra help with certain tasks, but who are independent in many ways. They may need help with mobility, or have some memory issues, but they don’t typically require more than what’s considered “custodial” care. However, the staff are still skilled medical providers who can meet the needs of their residents.

General Environment

Because nursing homes provide a more in-depth level of care, their facilities tend to have a more institutional feel to them. Some may feel very similar to a hospital in their structure and environment, and this is because the residents are receiving a very similar level of care as they would receive in a medical facility.

Comparatively, assisted living facilities feel more like upscale apartments. There’s a homier feel to these types of facilities, overall, and residents can often have a private room if they wish.

Which Is Right for Your Loved One?

Now that you understand the differences between a nursing home and an assisted living community, it’s time to ask yourself which type of facility is right for your loved one. Do they require the constant medical care provided by a nursing home? Or the custodial care of an assisted living facility?

If you’re still not sure, fill out our online assessment form, or speak to one of our representatives. Best for My Parents will help you to determine not only the type of facility that is best for your parent or other family member, but we’ll also help to match you with the best individual facility for your needs and budget.