The Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

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The Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often considered interchangeable terms. But there are distinct differences you need to know if you are considering one or the other for a loved one.

About Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities usually cater to the same age group as nursing homes, but their purpose and function share very little.

Unlike nursing homes, the room and board options at an assisted living facility often feel more like a home than a medical facility. Residents can bring their own furnishings and comfort items to make their space feel more like theirs. Residents tend to have more privacy, yet still enjoy the proximity of an aid around the clock if the need arises.

Seniors often choose to live in assisted living facilities when they want custodial care without sacrificing their entire independence. Staff assists with medications, laundry service, cleaning, and personal care such as dressing, bathing, and eating.

In addition, residences usually enjoy more varied dining options, such as more flexible meal times, private dining, and sometimes access to a community-shared kitchen.

Seniors living in assisted living facilities are usually in better health that allows them to participate in recreational activities. Most facilities will offer interest group-related activities, such as wellness programs, walking clubs, and painting.


Typical Assisted Living Community Residents

Assisted living community residents are generally seniors age 65 or older who require some level of assistance with activities of daily living. Residents generally do not have any severe medical issues that would require 24-hour nursing services. Depending on the assisted living community and its licensure, most residents are generally able to summon assistance or to call for help if an emergency arises. For instances where a resident’s condition may prevent them from summoning assistance or calling for help, special regulations are followed so the resident may remain in an assisted living setting.

Selecting a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Option

If you’re considering choosing between a nursing home or assisted living facility for a loved one, the answers to these 5 questions can help you make the best decision:

  • Does the individual need 24/7 medical care?
  • Is the person able-bodied and can get around on their own (wheelchair or walker vs. bedridden patients)?
  • Does the person need help with daily medications?
  • How many tasks does the person need help with, and what are they?
  • Will the individual need help with daily personal care and hygiene?

The thought that someone you love might need the professional care of a nursing home or assisted living facility can be difficult and stressful for both of you. But it’s important you choose the right facility that can deliver the best care for their needs.

About Nursing Homes


Also known as skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s), nursing homes provide 24-hour medical care to its residents, who are typically elderly or younger patients with mental or physical disorders. They help to dispense and monitor medication and provide speech, physical, and occupational therapy.

Residents of nursing homes often have limited amounts of independence. Rather, most nursing homes provide a daily schedule of activities, including meals and leisure time.

Room and board assimilate a hospital-like setting, with nurse’s stations on each floor or wing of the building. The room itself usually consists of a bed, sink, closet, and bathroom, though some nursing homes are beginning to adopt a more homelike feel as opposed to an institutional setting.

In addition to medical care, the staff at nursing homes offer personal care services, such as grooming, bathing, and dressing. They also provide custodial services to keep residents’ rooms and social areas clean and safe.

Generally, nursing homes have limited dining options. Meals are usually scheduled each day with a pre-fixed menu. Most nursing homes do not have kitchens that are open for general use, which means residents are most likely restricted to eating whatever is on the day’s menu. However, nursing homes do take into account special dietary needs as part of its health services to its patients.

In addition, nursing homes offer some form of social engagement, whether it’s cards and games, arts and crafts, or televisions placed in common areas. Some of the larger nursing homes usually have an activities director on staff to engage residents, while smaller facilities rely on other staff members to help facilitate social engagement.

The Typical Nursing Home Patient


Research shows that 88% of nursing home patients are age 65 or older, while 45% of patients are upwards of 85 years of age. Patients who benefit from nursing homes are those who need round-the-clock nursing or medical care or are recovering from a surgery or illness and need temporary care.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of a nursing home-qualified patient would be their inability to live on their own. It could potentially dangerous for elderly and incapacitated individuals to live without the constant supervision nursing homes provide.

About American Orchards Assisted Living Community


At American Orchards Assisted Living Community, we believe that every person in our care deserves a personal touch that inspires and enriches. We take care to provide a kind, dedicated, compassionate experience to everyone who resides with us, as well as their families. Our residents are great people, which is why we only trust great people to help care for their needs.

We pride ourselves on delivering a unique living experience to our residents. Our luxury facilities include private suites, kitchenettes, and porch access to semi-private rooms and courtyard views. When you’re here, you truly feel at home.

In addition, residents have the peace of mind knowing that medical care is within reach in case of an emergency. We have a nurse on premises 24 hours a day, along with our team of caregivers whose passion is to make your experience at American Orchards as comfortable and inviting as possible.

If you are considering assisted living care for yourself or a loved one, contact American Orchards today to request more information or to schedule a tour of our facilities.