Nursing Homes and Assisted Living: Understanding Their Differences and Similarities

Senior care can be a sensitive subject, especially for families who share close relationships with their senior loved ones. Since seniors need more care and love than most people, the thought of putting them under the care of other people won’t be easy to swallow. You’ve probably heard the horror stories of caretakers abusing their senior patients or being neglectful, which is why placing your senior loved one under the care of a nursing home or assisted living center may ease your fears.

However, you might wonder what’s the difference between a nursing home or a senior assisted living? Are these two terms the same because they’re used interchangeably? Or are they different?

If you have the same questions in mind, here are the differences and similarities to help you decide which option suits your situation.

The Differences

Independent vs. Dependent

The major difference between nursing homes and assisted living centers depends on the ability of your senior loved one to fend off for themselves. Ask yourself or the senior citizen if he or she wants some privacy or would prefer a nurse to be at their side majority of the time?

Assisted living provides more room for seniors to breathe. Meaning, in assisted living centers, people are usually given their own place. They’re also given the freedom to choose how they spend their time. They may ask for help when they need it, so usually, assisted living centers are for those senior folk who are still able-bodied.

Nursing homes are usually for those who are ill or need to be bedridden. This can be especially helpful for those who need help with doing everything they need to do, from eating, bathing, or getting up.

Community and Activities

Another difference between nursing homes and assisted living centers are the facilities and services they offer. If your senior loved one is looking for a place where they can be taken care of while still having freedom and not have someone doting over them 24/7, then they might be more comfortable with an assisted living center. Assisted living centers often offer community activities like yoga, or even have events for residents to socialize.

Nursing homes are more specialized that their primary goal is to provide medical care while making things as comfortable as they can be for their patient.

The Similarities


If your reason for transferring a senior loved one to a nursing home, or an assisted living center is to provide them with better care and facilities, then you’re going in the right direction. Although it may seem like the wrong decision to put a loved one under the care of someone else, it may be better since it’ll be their job to provide the proper care for the elderly person.

Cleanliness and safety are one of the main priorities of nursing homes and assisted living centers. Expect round-the-clock cleaning and maintenance of the place and making sure your senior loved one is hygienic at all times.

Family Visits

Nursing home

The biggest perk of both assisted living centers is that both you and your family won’t have to deal with so much separation anxiety knowing you can visit them during specific times. Although visiting times vary, they typically allow families to see the senior member regularly.

If you’re deciding whether to put your senior loved one in an assisted living center or a nursing home, it’s best to assess whether they have special needs. But either way, they’ll be in good hands.

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