Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home

If you are considering supportive living options for yourself or a family member, you may find it challenging to understand the differences.

Assisted living and nursing homes provide different services, living arrangements and payment options, but the distinctions can sometimes be subtle.

In the past, nursing homes operated on what was known as the “medical model,” with many similarities to hospitals. Assisted living communities, on the other hand, traditionally have offered a more-welcoming, homelike environment.

Those differences are decreasing as both nursing homes and assisted living communities move toward a person-centered strategy that respects individual dignity and choice. Still, significant differences remain between the two types of living environments. What areas most differentiate assisted living from nursing homes in Parkersburg?

Levels of Care

The primary difference between assisted living and nursing homes is the level and types of care provided. In general, assisted living is best suited for individuals who do not need continual nursing care.

People who choose assisted living typically need some help with their daily activities, along with supportive services and amenities that help them continue to enjoy a full and independent life.

Nursing homes offer a more intensive care environment with 24-hour medical supervision and assistance. Residents of nursing homes usually require assistance with most daily activities, and rehabilitative therapies are also available. Nursing homes may be Medicare-certified.

Care in a nursing home — sometimes referred to as skilled nursing — can be provided on a short-term or long-term basis. Individuals recovering from an illness or recuperating after surgery typically use nursing homes for short-term stays, while those with chronic conditions or permanent disabilities may need around-the-clock nursing care over the long term.

Nursing homes typically are subject to stricter licensing requirements and are inspected on a regular basis by both federal and state agencies.

Assisted Living Services

Although assisted living is designed to provide help and support, it often enables residents to live more independently than they could on their own. Without household chores to worry about and with many supportive services available, assisted living gives residents the freedom to enjoy life in the way that they desire.

Supportive services provided in assisted living include:

  • Help with daily activities, including bathing and dressing.
  • Delicious meals and snacks provided every day.
  • Housekeeping and laundry services.
  • Transportation to medical appointments.
  • Scheduled transportation to shopping and other destinations.
  • Medication assistance and reminders.
  • Wellness and fitness programs.
  • Maintenance and landscaping of residences, common areas and grounds.
  • Stimulating educational and cultural programming.
  • Ample opportunities for socializing with others.
  • Security and 24-hour emergency response.

While assisted living does not provide complex or continual medical care, it offers a variety of supportive services and amenities to make life easier and more enjoyable.

Offerings typically include common areas such as pools, fitness centers, libraries, auditoriums, dining rooms, beauty parlors and barber shops. Some communities also offer additional wellness services such as physical, speech and occupational therapy.

Nursing Home Services

Nursing homes provide supportive environments with around-the-clock nursing care and are suited for individuals who have ongoing medical needs. Some residents of nursing homes stay for a short time following a hospital stay or an illness, while others receive ongoing care over the long term.

Nursing home services are designed to promote maximum comfort, autonomy and choice for residents. They include:

  • Around-the-clock skilled nursing care, including medication administration and wound care.
  • Assistance with personal care needs, including dressing, bathing and toileting.
  • Therapeutic services, including physical and occupational therapies.
  • Nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Housekeeping and laundry.
  • Activities, entertainment and socialization opportunities.

The intensive level of medical care provided in nursing homes constitutes the primary difference between these environments and assisted living communities. While nursing homes are not hospitals, their residents receive continuous medical supervision as well as assistance with personal care needs on a daily basis.

In general, residents of assisted living communities can continue to exercise a large degree of independence, with the help of supportive services. Many continue to drive and attend outside activities in the greater community.

Residents of nursing homes often have medical conditions that preclude living on their own.

Residences and Amenities

Although nursing homes have evolved from the sterile, hospital-like atmospheres of 20 years ago, they are medical environments designed to facilitate comprehensive nursing services.

Residents typically live in single- or double-occupancy rooms that can vary in size and amenities. In most nursing homes, rooms come equipped with basic furniture such as a bed, chair, dresser and television set. Residents can often personalize their rooms with their own decor to the extent possible, and some communities offer large rooms with couches and other furnishings for maximum comfort.

Assisted living communities offer supportive services, but they are not medical environments. Residents live in their own apartments that offer all the comforts of home — including kitchenettes with refrigerators and microwaves for quick meals and between-meal snacks.

Residents of assisted living enjoy a welcoming, homelike environment and the ability to customize and add their own furnishings and special touches.

In both assisted living and nursing homes, residents benefit from amenities like lounges and other common spaces. Parkersburg assisted living communities typically offer more in-community destinations for a variety of activities, such as fitness centers and auditoriums.

Both types of communities offer safe living environments with emergency alert systems and security personnel on duty 24 hours a day.

Licensing and Payment

Assisted living communities and nursing homes differ in their licensing requirements and payment options.

Nursing homes typically are licensed by individual states and are subject to frequent safety and quality inspections. In addition, nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement must earn certification from the federal government to qualify.

Some nursing home residents pay with their own resources, which may include retirement accounts, proceeds from the sale of a house or savings. In addition, many nursing homes are certified to accept Medicaid payment for long-term residents. Medicare also covers limited stays in nursing homes for rehabilitation, but not all nursing homes accept either Medicaid or Medicare.

Assisted living communities are also typically licensed by states and are also inspected on a frequent basis, although requirements differ since they are not medical environments. Residence in assisted living communities is not covered by either Medicare or Medicaid, so residents typically pay from their own funds.

Long-term care insurance policies sometimes cover some or all costs associated with living in a nursing home or assisted living community.

The Right Time for a Move to Supportive Care

For individuals who require care in a nursing home, the timing is right when the need arises. Timing for a move to assisted living is not always as clear, however.

If you or your family member could benefit from an array of services and amenities that make life easier and more enjoyable, you may wish to consider a move to assisted living. Cedar Grove offers a comprehensive range of personal care and enrichment programs in historic Parkersburg, West Virginia. To find out more, please contact us today.