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Are Assisted Living & Nursing Homes the Same?

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A senior woman joins another two seniors outside while a caregiver assists her on her way in her wheelchair

Deciding on a Home: Assisted Living & Nursing Homes

Deciding on the best care can be challenging without understanding your options. Many care homes offer similar amenities and share some services, making it even trickier to navigate the differences. 

The most common (and distinct) options are nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care. Memory support can often be the easiest to understand, as it has specialized programs for memory support.

The line between assisted living and nursing homes can be a little blurry. What’s the difference in services and amenities? Let’s take a moment to clear up that blurry line with an explanation of nursing homes and assisted living.

Nursing Homes Explained

The original intention of a nursing home is a short-term location. Patients can receive medical care until they return home from a hospital or move into a new living situation. However, many nursing homes become long-term because residents continue to benefit from long-term medical care.

Nursing home facilities are a more comfortable alternative to hospitals. Nursing homes have medical professionals on-site, offering 24-hour access to medical services. Nursing homes are not hospice care, but they are equipped to deal with many medical needs.

The most common support services available at nursing homes include:

  • Meal services
  • 24-hour medical care
  • Medication management
  • Social and recreation activities
  • Personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.)

Nurses and other professionals are available for various medical services, such as physical, respiratory, or occupational therapists.

A group of seniors having breakfast together in an assisted living community

Assisted Living Explained

Assisted living (AL) is housing for people in need of services for medical care or personal care. It’s the type of senior housing with the most freedom. Assisted living is the closest to living independently, but with access to special amenities and services.

Facilities can offer multiple levels of care, depending on the needs of residents. Programs are designed to promote independence but are available for support when needed.

The most common support services offered at assisted living facilities include:

  • Meal services
  • Medication management
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.)
  • Social events and recreation
  • 24-emergency care
  • Limited medical services

Differences: Assisted Living & Nursing Homes

There can be some crossover between nursing homes and assisted living (AL), particularly for facilities with multiple levels of care. But assisted living and nursing homes are not the same. So let’s compare the key differences side-by-side.

Medical Services

Assisted living facilities have medical services, but most residents are generally healthy. Many AL facilities also provide transportation services for medical appointments. In addition, some facilities with higher care levels may offer more medical support or specialty services, such as memory support.

For seniors with medical conditions, nursing homes have more on-site options. Skilled professionals are available for treatment and therapy. The staff is also trained for the higher demands of activities of daily living (ADLs), such as feeding, hygiene, continence, and mobility.

Living Space

Assisted living spaces can be a mix of private and shared spaces, such as common rooms or recreational areas. Residents can personalize private rooms, so they feel at home.

Nursing homes can also have a mix but may have more common areas to encourage socializing. Some independent spaces are furnished, but personalization may be more limited.

Recreation & Socializing

Active seniors benefit from the wide availability of activities and events at assisted living homes. As a result, residents have more opportunities to participate in events for physical health and creative expression.

Nursing homes will have some recreation, but variety is limited. Activities are chosen for patients’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

Meal Services

As there’s more freedom with assisted living, there’s also more freedom for culinary choices. Residents may have the option of cooking for themselves, using meal services, or ordering from a dining room. 

Nursing home facilities will feature meals prepared by dieticians to help with patient health. The meals may be served in a dining area or a resident’s room, depending on the resident’s mobility and health.

Choosing A Long-Term Home

Making the best choice for senior care begins with understanding your options and what those options mean. Assisted living and nursing homes can both be excellent options. The best way to choose is to learn more about an individual facility and how their community meets your unique needs. 

Contact us to learn more about our community and services. Our assisted living team works with our residents to provide the level of care they need. Schedule a visit with Mattison Crossing at Manalapan Avenue.

Morgan Berardi

Written by Morgan Berardi

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