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Assisted Living vs Nursing Home: Which Senior Care Option is Best?

If you or a loved one have reached the point when living alone is no longer the responsible or desired option, a new journey lies ahead. The next question is, which type of care facility is best for you or your loved one? Assisted living vs nursing home care is a question of autonomy. 

Learn everything you need to know about the differences between nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Find out what assisted living care has to offer to older adults who want to maintain their ability to live freely. And see whether an assisted living environment is appropriate for you or your loved one.

The Difference Between Assisted Living vs Nursing Home Care

As seniors age, a time comes when, by choice or by necessity, they no longer live by themselves. Moving into an assisted living home or nursing care facility is a chance to keep social connections and community in a safe, peaceful environment. The decision to move into assisted living vs nursing home care is dependent on the residents level of need.

Assisted living care facilities offer residents a wide range of services and activities. Many provide transportation services, assistance with housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining options. Nursing homes are designed to ensure the necessary and immediate care of residents with debilitating conditions.

Similarities Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

There is a large degree of crossover between the care options that both types of care provide. The first, and most important charge that both facilities are tasked with is to keep the residents safe and happy. To accomplish this, both care options provide staff to assist residents in the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), like dressing, bathing, hygiene, and personal care. 

In addition, both types of care facilities often provide residents with medication management, supportive services, nutrition programs, and programming designed to improve the residents quality-of-life. The services provided by assisted living and nursing homes ensures that residents have access to the support they need to live as independently as possible. And, both types of care provide an environment designed to keep residents safe, ranging from security systems and personnel, to handrails and emergency buttons. 

Biggest Differences in an Assisted Living vs Nursing Home Facility

Nursing homes are designed for individuals needing a high-level of support for their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Assisted living facilities generally include less ADL services to most residents. Many assisted living facilities, however, do offer additional ADL support for residents, at an additional cost. Residents do well at an assisted living facility if they require limited help with their ADL on a daily basis.

The crux of the difference between assisted living vs nursing homes is the medical services provided on-site. Assisted living facilities enable residents to live autonomously, within a safe environment. Nursing homes assume full-care of the residents personal needs, such as bathing, eating, and medication management. 

Assistance with Medication Management

Assisted living facilities vary on the range of medication management services that are offered to residents. In general, residents are assumed to be capable of keeping track of their medications without daily reminders and check-ins. Nursing care facilities are intended for residents who are incapable of managing their medications and require assistance with all medical regiments.

Eating and Dietary Plans

When it comes to food, there is a big difference between nursing homes and assisted living. Assisted living vs nursing home food and dietary plans differ, in that nursing homes regiment a residents daily meals and snacks. Assisted living facilities often provide a wider variety of meal options. 

In addition, assisted living facilities offer residents the opportunity to cook for themselves or dine on-campus. Most assisted living facilities offer townhomes, apartments, or dorm-style living that is fully-equiped with cooking appliances, as well as cafe and restaurant style dining options. If a resident is in need of assistance with their meal preparation or eating, many assisted care facilities offer additional support.

Personal Care, Continence and Mobility

Assisted living is designed with the elderly in-mind, so the facilities are built with accessible features. Residents who have trouble taking care of their personal hygiene, however, require additional care. Most residents in assisted living are fully-capable of oral care, grooming, and showering autonomously. 

Assisted living care provides laundry services on a regular basis. If a resident needs regular changing or help with issues related to incontinence, this is provided at an additional charge. Residents are typically expected to be continent and able to maintain personal hygiene.

Likewise, residents in assisted care facilities are assumed to be able to get out of bed, into and out of the shower, and move freely. Many residents have full mobility with the use of a walker or cane, which is in keeping with the purpose of assisted care. Assisted living is not generally intended for those in need of daily assistance with mobility.

Weighing the Options – Which Care Choice is Best?

Autonomy is a precious thing and assisted living facilities provide the environment and services to ensure a resident’s ability to live independently. Nursing home facilities are designed to provide vital services to those who cannot take care of themselves. Many assisted living facilities, however, provide additional care services, upon request. Want to hear more about what assisted living care facilities have to offer for you or your loved one? Talk with an assisted care specialist today to learn more.


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