← Back to Blog

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes?

senior lady holding the hand of a healthcare worker for assistance

Misconceptions persist about assisted living and nursing homes. With the innovation and change of the last few decades, they’ve evolved into entirely different entities. Yet many people still believe entering an assisted living community is the same as entering a nursing home.

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is designed to provide 24/7 nursing care and supervision for seniors with serious and long-term medical and physical conditions. Health care professionals are licensed and credentialed, and may include a physician, RNs, LPNs, certified nurse aides and certified medication aides. It’s the highest level of care appropriate for seniors who don’t need hospitalization, but who do need daily medical care as well as help with activities of daily living (ADLs).

This continuous hands-on care benefits seniors who are very elderly or infirm, and who may be bedridden or who can only use a wheelchair with help. It supports those who need palliative and/or preventive long-term care, IV (intravenous) therapy, regular injections, and monitoring of vital signs and medical equipment.

What Is Assisted Living?

While they may look the same on the outside or share some of the same amenities, costs and medical standards, the purpose of assisted living is very different from a nursing home.

An assisted living community is designed for relatively independent seniors who are active, mobile and don’t need medical care. They offer comfortable residences for those who need help with ADLs: bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management and assistance with getting around. Along with this added support, assisted living communities also provide housekeeping, dining, activities, and other services that make living there an enjoyable and safer option than their current home.

There may be some conditions and needs that can’t be met in assisted living, but the services and types of care make living independently more viable. Even seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can live successfully in a specialized and secure area of assisted living designed for individuals with memory loss. In these ways, assisted living maximizes quality of life and provides a more independent lifestyle, and most seniors would prefer it over the option of a nursing home.

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home

Nursing Home Assisted Living
Type of care Long-term care

Skilled nursing

Medical treatments

Help with activities of daily living

Nonmedical assistance

Medication management

Setting Institutional, clinical
Comfortable and homelike
Suitable for Elderly or infirm adults who need daily medical care

Require extensive personal care or frequent hospital stays

Not mobile without assistance

Affected by cognitive or behavioral impairment that makes independent living untenable

Mostly independent and mobile seniors who require some personal care

Receptive to receiving assistance

May be suitable for seniors with a mild form of Alzheimer’s or another dementia

Services and amenities Meals, laundry, housekeeping

Limited activities

Meals, laundry, housekeeping

Planned calendar of social, recreational and cultural activities

Access to amenities such as fitness center, pool, common areas

Residence Private or shared room

Limited outdoor access

Private apartment with living space, private bathroom and kitchenette

Access to outdoor grounds and amenities

Payment options Usually paid for by Medicaid, but coverage doesn’t kick in until the resident has no more than $2,000 in assets to pay for this care Usually paid for out-of-pocket, but may be covered through private insurance or paid for partially with veterans benefits
Sometimes called Convalescent care, skilled nursing Senior living community

Benefits of Assisted Living

Assisted living provides a more social and communal living environment than staying in a suburban home. Most seniors believe that once their home is paid off, their regular expenses are low. They’ll choose to stay despite the challenges of house and yard upkeep or dwindling social connections if family and neighbors move away. Aging in place can also mean modifying the interior of the home. Adding ramps and handrails, widening doorways, or replacing a tub with a step-in shower is expensive and may not work in some older homes.

Assisted living in an Oaks Senior Living community provides access to services and amenities that cut down on other costs: things like gym memberships, dining, utilities, housekeeping, maintenance. In addition, living spaces and shared areas are already designed to be senior-friendly, safe and accessible.

Also, assisted living caters to adults who are basically independent. The focus isn’t on medical care, but on important aspects of senior wellness, including physical, emotional, intellectual and mental well-being. Balancing these aspects for a happier, healthier life takes planning. By choosing an Oaks Senior Living community, residents gain access to an invigorating year-round schedule of activities planned by our lifestyle directors. These include exercise, classes, social celebrations and Happy Hours, entertainment, outings, and other activities based on resident interest.  

The range of senior living options we offer also benefits couples. Couples considering a move to Oaks Senior Living can stay together even if they need different levels of care. If one partner would benefit from the regular support of assisted living but the other partner doesn’t need it, they can live together in the same senior apartment. If memory care is ever needed, there’s no need to separate or move elsewhere. The transition is easy, and partners remain a short walk or an elevator ride away from each other.

Oaks Senior Living Communities

Learn about the person-directed philosophy that’s a central part of our assisted living lifestyle. Contact us today — we’d be glad to answer your questions and tell you more about our family-operated communities in Georgia and South Carolina.  

Sign up for our newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.