The Difference Between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home


Are you confused by the differences between assisted living, senior and elder care, and nursing homes?

When it comes time to find the right care facility for yourself or a loved one, it is often a stressful time. Deciding on what type of facility is best can be even harder.

Vibrant Life strives to make this transition as seamless as possible, starting with explaining the differences between the types of care facilities you can choose from.

Additional Information: 5 Steps to Finding the Right Assisted Living Community

What is Assisted Living?

The biggest differences revolve around the medical services provided and the layout and amenities of each type of community.

Residents in a nursing home require around the clock care and monitoring. They typically live with more complex health care conditions that require the daily assistance of a skilled nurse as well as a resident assistant.  Many times people who need “rehab,” get that care in a nursing home as well. They often need physical, speech, or occupational therapy. Long term residents of nursing homes are generally paid by Medicaid, and the rehab portion is paid by Medicare.

By contrast, residents in an assisted living community can require different levels of care – from just a little to total care.  It can be for just physical care, which is generally called the assisted living wing (or lodge or neighborhood). If a person has cognitive issues, they may need memory care.

So assisted living communities care for people with physical or memory care needs, or both.  And it can be for just “a helping hand” or up to total care, depending on the community.  Most assisted living communities are paid for with an individual’s private funds, usually a combination of assets and income.  There are a few government programs that help pay for assisted living, most notably the Veteran’s “Aid and Assistance” program, which is for veterans or their spouses. The Medicaid “waiver” program, which is different in every state, can help with assisted living costs, but is not guaranteed, as it is in a nursing home.

For more information, please call us at (734) 484-4740.

Nursing homes are more institutional in nature, partly because of their higher level of care, and partly because they were built mostly in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Assisted living came of age in the 1990’s and 2000’s and is generally more residential in nature.  Upscale assisted living communities can look like a hotel, with swimming pools, movie theaters, and elegant dining.

Levels of Care

Some senior care communities have different levels of care provided on separate floors, wings, or buildings. When a senior resident first joins an assisted living community he or she may require very little medical intervention. However, as they age, or their dementia progresses, they will likely need more care as time goes on. It is easier for residents if they can stay in the same community where they know the staff and the routines.  Sometimes this is called “aging in place.

assisted living

Assisted Living Activities

As you can imagine, residents in assisted living require different levels of personal or medical care, but they do desire to live full and enriching lives.

Maintaining a schedule that is full of fun and interesting activities and options is a large part of the positive experience for everyone who lives in assisted living.

At Vibrant Life, each location offers a full calendar of events and plenty of amenities to keep everyone involved with other people and active doing the things that you actually enjoy. We want every person to find activities they love to do.  Once they’ve gotten ready for the day, our CareFriends and our Life Enrichment staff are happy to help each resident find a routine that works best for them.

Each Vibrant Life assisted living location offers activities such as:assisted living

  • Art classes
  • Baking, book, and movie clubs
  • Bingo and games
  • Crafts
  • Musical events
  • Pet visits
  • Walking club
  • Movies
  • Listening to Music
  • Playing Music
  • Outings and travel to nearby events
  • Daily movement and individually based exercise
  • and much, much more.

Real Life Activity

At Vibrant Life, our favorite activities are just “real life!”  When living at home, everyone has chores and daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, changing light bulbs, or doing a little painting.  Whenever possible, we encourage our residents to “help” our staff with real life chores, like cleaning off the tables, folding napkins, or sometimes even painting outside benches (in the nice weather).  Of course this is all optional, but we have found that people love giving and helping out when they can.  It is important to have a purpose in life, and to keep giving, so we encourage the people who live at Vibrant Life to keep giving to stay vibrant.

Learn More

You can learn more about our assisted living or memory care services on our website, or contact us for more information.

Come in for a visit to learn more. Call (734)847-3217 or send us a note:

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