Top 5 Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Is your elderly parent at the point where they need more care than you can provide them?

If so, you’re probably thinking about making alternative living arrangements for them. Two of the most popular living arrangements for seniors are nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

But, what’s the difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility? How do you decide which is right for your loved one?

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about nursing homes vs assisted living.

1. Activities

Many people are surprised to find out that nursing homes and assisted living homes offer many of the same activities. Loneliness and isolation put older adults at greater risk of developing serious diseases such as depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Both nursing homes and assisted living homes offer a wide array of activities to help keep their residents social and active. Here are some activities you can find in these communities:

  • Art therapy
  • Workouts like Zumba and yoga
  • Bingo night
  • Choir and other music activities
  • Discussion groups
  • Excursions to plays, concerts, and other events
  • Cooking classes
  • Holiday programs
  • Board games and cards
  • Ice cream socials and birthday parties
  • Pet therapy

Of course, both living arrangements also offer family visits.

2. Type of Help Provided

The type of help each facility offers is slightly different.

Assisted living homes are a great choice for those who want to maintain a social lifestyle but are incapable of living on their own. Those who live in assisted living homes typically need some medication help and nursing assistance, but they don’t require full-time care.

Residents in these facilities typically need help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and arranging medications. Nursing homes, on the other hand, provide a more intensive level of care.

Typically, those who live in nursing homes suffer from a debilitating mental or physical condition that makes it so they can’t live independently. Some nursing home residents are wheelchair-bound, bedridden, or need the daily help of a skilled nurse.

Before accepting new residents, nursing homes always require that you bring in a physical exam and a physician’s prescription. The goal of a nursing home is to ensure comfort and safety for their residents by caring for them around the clock.

In addition to prescription management and help with daily activities, many nursing homes also offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory therapy, cognitive therapy, and other rehabilitation services. These homes also offer ongoing preventative and palliative care. If the nursing home is state-funded, then it also offers emergency and routine dental services.

When deciding between a nursing home and an assisted living community, you need to consider the level of care your elderly parent needs. If they’re in need of more intensive care, then a nursing home is likely the right decision. If they’re still fairly independent and aren’t suffering from any major illness, then assisted living may be the way to go.

3. Size and Lifestyle

In general, nursing homes are twice the size of assisted living communities. The typical nursing home has about 100 beds, while the typical assisted living community has 50.

However, the size of assisted living homes can vary greatly, with some housing as little as 5 people and others housing as many as 300 people. Before making a commitment to an assisted living community or nursing home, it’s very important to inquire about the size.

Some people prefer bigger facilities, as they offer more opportunities to socialize and meet new people. Others prefer the intimacy and solitude of a smaller facility.

Your loved one will also experience a different lifestyle in each of these communities. In an assisted living facility, residents typically live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment. These usually come with kitchenettes and some space to move around.

Nursing home residents, on the other hand, typically live in shared or single rooms. Oftentimes, these rooms are about the same size as a hospital room.

4. Cost

When choosing between a nursing home and an assisted living community, it’s also important to think about the cost. Because nursing homes offer more intensive care, they usually cost a bit more money.

However, it all depends on the type of facility you choose. If you opt for a luxury assisted living community, then you could end up paying more money than most people pay for nursing homes.

While total costs will depend on where you live, in general, it costs a few thousand dollars a month to live in an assisted living community, or $30,000 to $40,000 per year. Nursing homes, on the other hand, typically cost between $6000 to $8000 per month, or $72,000 to $96,000 per year.

5. Payment Options

Figuring out how to pay for long-term care for your loved one can be a bit complicated and stressful. Understanding what your options are can help you decide which type of facility is right for your parent.

Typically, assisted living is paid for out of pocket. This is because insurance doesn’t cover residents who just need help with daily activities. However, if your loved one needs medical attention, you can usually get some costs covered by insurance.

If you can’t afford to pay out of pocket for assisted living, you can see if you qualify for VA benefits or Medicaid. Nursing home care, on the other hand, is typically paid for using Medicaid. However, in order to qualify, beneficiaries must first spend down their own assets. You can also work with a Medicaid planner to help preserve your assets.

Assisted Living vs Nursing Home: Time to Choose

Now that you know the differences between nursing homes and assisted living communities, it’s time to decide which one is right for your loved one. If you’re not sure which to choose, you can speak with your parent’s primary care provider to get a better understanding of where their health is at.

If you’re looking for a senior care facility for your loved one in Saint Louis, MO, contact us today to schedule a tour.