There are several long-term care options for the elderly. Sometimes, choosing the right one feels complicated and shadowed with uncertainty, especially when you’re unsure of the level of care that is right for your circumstance.

Assisted living and nursing care homes are the most common options for the elderly. Choosing the right one can ensure you get proper care, and it could also save you from spending unnecessarily.

Here are some of the critical differences between nursing homes and assisted living facilities to help you choose the right option.

Medical Services

Assisted living

In assisted living facilities, the residents have access to varying levels of medical attention depending on their specific needs. Some facilities might provide transportation to doctor appointments or provide assistance in taking medications.

Others might also offer special areas for people with conditions that affect memory like dementia. Generally, assisted living facilities are for residents who are of sound health.

Nursing homes

Nursing homes provide medical care around the clock. The team at nursing homes usually comprises of nurses who help to take care of residents with chronic illnesses.

Patients who require various types of therapy like speech, occupational, physical, and respiratory therapy can get access to such services in a nursing home.

Many residents living in nursing homes are admitted for a long time, while others have a short stay for rehabilitation after staying in a hospital.

Living space

Assisted living

Residents in assisted living facilities often live in individual or shared rooms complete with a kitchen, living room and bedroom, depending on the facility’s arrangement.

In some cases, the spaces might be furnished and have common areas where residents can share meals and participate in various activities if they choose.

Nursing home

Nursing homes don’t have the luxury of shared rooms or en-suite bathrooms. However, some of the nursing home facilities do have common spaces where residents can take part in various activities and even share a meal. But their main focus is on being skilled nursing facilities providing professional round the clock care to the residents.

Assistance with daily activities

Assisted living

Assisted living facilities of assistance with daily activities as per the needs of the residents. Residents who require assistance when bathing or getting dressed can get help with such activities. The facility also offers various other services, including preparation of meals, housekeeping and laundry to residents that need them.

Nursing home

Most residents in a nursing home require extensive help and caring for their daily needs. Members of the staff bathe, dress, and even help the residents use the restroom. They can also help some of the residents take their medications.

Nursing homes also have full-time kitchen staff and laundry staff that takes care of all the cleaning and laundry for the residents.

Recreational activities

Assisted living

One of the easiest ways to tell an assisted living facility from a nursing home is the extensive range of activities offered to the residents.

Assisted living focuses on keeping their residents as active and socially connected as possible to ensure better health and quality of life.

Physical exercise, socialising and creative expression are just a few of the activities you might find in an assisted living facility. It’s also common to find religious groups and opportunities to volunteer in the community.

Nursing home

In nursing homes, recreational activities are more limited. You might find some art and cooking classes, animal therapy, mentally stimulating games and choir for the residents. But nothing excessive or requiring intense physical commitment.

If there are any exercises, these are often done under the watchful eye of a physical therapist and not as a recreational activity but as a treatment regimen.


Assisted living

Residents in an assisted living facility have the option to cook for themselves, but they can also take meals in the community dining rooms.

Some facilities go as far as delivering meals for a fee. In some facilities, the dining room is open throughout the day, and in others, you will only get meals at specific times.

Nursing homes

Nutrition is a priority in nursing homes. Dieticians prepare meals for the residents. Depending on the condition of the patient, the food might be served in their own rooms or the communal dining room. Patients who have difficulty eating on their own have personal aides at hand to assist them.

Deciding Which Type of Facility is Right for You

Choosing the right type of facility is not straightforward. You need to consider your health and how much help you need with daily tasks.

A few questions that can help you decide the best facility for you or your elderly one include:

  • Do you need medical care for severe health conditions?
  • Do you need help with daily activities like bathing, using the restroom and dressing?
  • Can you prepare your own meals?
  • Do you require round the clock professional monitoring?

Based on the answers to these questions and the comparisons above on the differences between an assisted living facility and a nursing home, you should be able to find which facility will work best for you.

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