Gateway Gazette

Know the Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Seeing the side effects aging has on our loved ones can be disheartening. Even more so when we don’t have the time or ability to best assist them in the proper ways they need.

You may find yourself looking into assisted senior care in the forms of assisted living facilities or nursing homes. There are many differences between the two and the amount of information you get from doing research may make you more overwhelmed than you already were.

To help make the decision between an assisted home and a nursing home, we’ve outlined the major differences between the two.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are mainly for elderly individuals who are able to live their lives fairly independently, but need some assistance with daily activities. This can include cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and even bathing.

Placing your loved one in an assisted home is ideal if they want to still feel “at home” but still have help available to them. Assisted homes typically offer residency similar to a condominium, apartment, and sometimes the facility is in a home that houses a few residents at a time. This style of living allows your loved one to still receive the care they need, but live a fairly normal life that they are used to.

The level of privacy in an assisted home is higher than at a nursing home. By living in a home or apartment/condominium-style, residents can have the choice of privacy of their own room or a shared room/bathroom. If your loved one has a partner or friend that is needing to go into assisted care as well, a shared room/bathroom is perfect for them as they will not feel alone and enjoy some familiarity with the person’s company.

Assisted homes also have a great level of socialization available. With organized game nights, movie nights, and resident activities, there is a fair share of socialization to help keep your loved one’s mental health strong. Also, there may be integrational programs available at the home that allows residents to participate in activities with schools and organizations in their community and build relationships with those groups.

A benefit of assisted living facilities is that the staff-to-resident ratio is smaller than at nursing homes, therefore allowing for more personalized care for your loved one.

Although assisted living facilities are for more independent living, most will offer a 24/7 on-call nurse in case of an emergency. They also offer memory care, but mostly for individuals who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes often offer the same amenities as assisted living facilities, but offer a higher level of care to their residents.

Nursing homes are ideal for seniors who need 24/7 care from medical professionals such as licensed nurses. If your loved one has a hard time moving around or is bound to a wheelchair, a nursing home would benefit them as they have assistance from staff at all times. Also, if your loved one suffers from a cognitive disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, and the disease has progressed, a nursing home is the safest bet for them. Nurses and staff will be able to monitor your loved one around the clock and ensure they do not wander off or harm themselves.

Another difference is the style of living. The level of privacy may be less than at an assisted home as there will likely be more residents in a nursing home. Also, they may have a hospital-like feel as most residents there require a high level of care that can include oxygen, IV’s, and more.


When searching for the right type of care for your elderly loved one, take into account their wishes and what they need. Talk with the staff at these homes to ensure they can provide the level of care and comfort your loved one requires.Ask about their payment options as well to see if their rates are within your budget and if they accept any type of insurance.

Deciding to put your loved one into assisted care can be scary, but knowing what your loved one wants and what homes can offer them is critical to ensure your loved one will feel safe and comfortable in their new living situation.

About the Author

Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.

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