Senior man walking outside with his caregiver at an assisted living facility

Know the Difference: Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

Understanding the senior living industry isn’t always simple. With so many living options, care plans and community models, it can be a challenge to wrap your head around the choice that’s right for you or your loved one. Add in common, often outdated, misconceptions about the nature of senior living communities, and it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion.

Let’s make things a little simpler – we’ll break down the differences between an assisted living community and a nursing home, giving you more of the important information you need to plan for the future.

The Basics

What’s the main difference between a nursing home and an assisted living community? It’s all a matter of their mission. While they may seem synonymous to the uninitiated, nursing homes (also known as skilled nursing facilities) are focused on long-term health care, while assisted living focuses wholly on making daily life easier. So, a nursing home is often the best option for those with health needs that require around-the-clock care.

At an assisted living community, each and every bit of the help you or your loved one receives is intended to preserve continued independence. While a nursing home or skilled nursing facility focuses on managing symptoms and treating chronic illness, assisted living is all about enabling you to live the life you truly want to live.

Lifestyle and Beyond

When comparing the lifestyle at an assisted living community to that of a nursing home, it all comes down to their mission – their fundamental differences in philosophy and purpose leads to significant variations in all facets of community life. Let’s examine a few of those now:

  • Full-time freedom. Assisted living communities have more in common with life at an independent living community. The reason for this is simple – assisted living communities provide help with the activities of daily living, but they aren’t treatment facilities. While a nursing home resident may have to follow a regimented schedule, people who live at assisted living communities are always in charge.
  • Superior dining. Owing to their role as long-term skilled nursing providers, a nursing home’s dining program offers fewer options and less choice than an assisted living community. In contrast, an assisted living community may have multiple dining venues, providing a multitude of menu options to suit resident tastes. Many also offer dietitian-designed menus designed to fit specific nutritional needs.
  • True community. Assisted living has a much more community-focused, neighborhood feel than a nursing home. Plus, the fact that most assisted living residents aren’t in more intensive, long-term care means they’re able to be highly involved in their passions, hobbies and social groups.
  • Engaging environments. When most people think of nursing homes, they think of a sterile, clinical space. Fortunately, assisted living communities are more like a well-appointed hotel or apartment complex, full of comfortable apartments, suites and welcoming common spaces.
  • Calm, but connected. Seniors who live in assisted living are still closely connected with the world around them. Many communities, including Eagle Senior Living communities, offer regular outings and cultural events.
  • Much more to do. Put simply, there’s a whole lot more to do and see at an assisted living community. From fitness classes and social gatherings to the grounds, walking trails and activity rooms, no nursing home can compete with their sheer variety of enriching amenities.
  • Pricing structures. It’s true, you get what you pay for – so if you don’t need to pay for higher levels of care, you shouldn’t have to. Some standalone assisted living communities require a one-time, nonrefundable community fee. Others offer a rental-based structure, allowing for an increased degree of financial flexibility.

A Nationwide Leader in Assisted Living

Looking for more information about the unique benefits assisted living could bring to your or your loved one’s life? As a quality, nonprofit provider of assisted living in communities across the country, Eagle Senior Living is a partner you can trust. For a deeper look into assisted living, the senior living industry, or details on our communities and living options, please contact us.