What’s the difference between assisted living and a nursing home?
While many people use the two terms interchangeably, assisted living and nursing homes are two very different kinds of facilities. So, in case you were wondering, here’s the difference between assisted living and a nursing home.
Assisted living is for those who may not be able to live independently, and who have some needs that require special care. It’s a combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the needs — both scheduled and unscheduled — of those who need help with activities of daily living (ADL). In other words, assisted living is for those who need some “assistance,” but not around-the-clock care, and wish to live in a home-like setting.
In New Hampshire there are two types of assisted living centers: residential care homes and supported residential care homes. The main difference is the level of care that can be provided by the staff of the center. Both options provide housing, meals, personal care services and other amenities for adults who do not qualify for nursing home care. They are for those who either can no longer manage independent living in their own homes or do not want to live alone. Supported residential care homes (SRCs) are designed for adults who may or may not qualify for nursing-home care and can no longer manage independent living in their own homes. These residents may require some medical services, but they do not need the 24- hour services of a nursing home.
It’s important to know that in Massachusetts there is only one option for assisted living. Bay State assisted-living residences are intended only for adults who may need help with daily activities such as housecleaning, meals, bathing, dressing and/or medication reminders, and who also want the security of having that assistance available in non-institutional environment.
Assisted living is usually in a group setting where residents share meals together and have the opportunity to socialize. An assisted living center should have activities overseen by an activities director, and provide services such as housekeeping, laundry, and transportation. In addition, exercise and wellness programs should be provided. Those who require assistance with activities of daily living can get help with bathing, toileting, eating, and dressing, and more. Residents can get medication reminders and licensed professionals should be on hand to administer medications.
Assisted living regulations vary by state, while nursing homes are federally regulated.
A nursing home provides 24-hour skilled care for residents who generally rely on assistance for most or all daily activities (such as bathing, dressing and toileting). Nursing homes are for people who need medical care, but don’t need to be in a hospital. It’s one step below hospital acute care.
State-licensed nursing homes are mandated to make regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy available. They are regulated and licensed by the State Department of Public Health and are individually certified by the state for Medicare and Medicaid. These centers also must meet federal standards.
A skilled nursing facility offers both short and long-term care options for those with temporary or permanent health problems too complex or serious for home care or an assisted living setting. Nursing home and skilled nursing facilities are terms that are often used interchangeably. Those in nursing homes often need skilled nursing care, so a nursing home is also a skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes are also known as long-term care centers.
Assisted living is different than independent living. Independent living is a residential living setting for seniors who require minimal or no extra assistance. It’s for those who want to live on their own, but want the added security and convenience of knowing assistance, help and support is nearby, so it’s a step below assisted living.
Independent living centers are not licensed or regulated, given there are currently no formal regulations in place for this kind of living arrangement. Independent living centers are governed by the individual management company who owns the center.
Communities like the Courville have a continuum of care model which allows residents to transition from living at home to independent living; from independent living to assisted living; and from assisted living to nursing home care.
Know Which Option to Choose
If you don’t want to worry about household maintenance and repairs, and you want more time to enjoy life, an independent living community (such as The Villas) may be for you.
A unit at The Villas has a gas fireplace, master suite with whirlpool bath, and a fully applianced kitchen.
There is a full calendar of social and cultural events, 24-hour access to nursing/emergency assistance, weekly housekeeping and flat linen service, and much more.
Residents can cook in their own home or attend any of the Courville Community dining rooms for their meals.
Private duty nursing is available, and residents of The Villas get priority access to Courville Communities’ continuum of care assisted living, rehabilitation, or long-term care centers.
Assisted living encourages independence yet provides assistance on an as-needed basis, so assisted living centers are designed for individuals who can no longer safely live alone, but seek the comforts of home.
It may be time for assisted living if you or your elderly loved one:
- Has some trouble with activities of daily living;
- Isn’t taking medication properly and on-schedule;
- Is becoming more isolated and has stopped participating in once enjoyable activities;
- Isn’t eating well.
Another sign that it’s time for assisted living is when the caregiver is overwhelmed and can no longer provide adequate care. Or, if it’s just a break that’s needed, look into short-term respite care.
Nursing homes provide care 24/7 by licensed medical personnel. Oftentimes a medical emergency or event determines an individual’s need to be placed in long-term care.
Long-term care should be considered if you or your loved one:
- Have problems maintaining personal grooming or meal preparation;
- Cannot manage personal finances responsibly;
- Can’t handle caring for a home or apartment physically or financially;
- Require constant and consistent care;
- Has no one in the family is able, available or willing to provide care;
- Is especially frail and needs around-the-clock medical care.
Making the decision to leave home and go into assisted living or a nursing home is not an easy one. To help you, we’re created a Guide to Assisted Living that contains what you or your loved one needs to know to make the decision. You’ll find common terms, different living options explained, financial worksheets and advice on how to approach the subject. Just click below to download it today.