Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home: What’s the Difference?

Apr 11, 2023

For a long time, many people associated the term “Assisted Living” with “nursing home.” Back in the day, the two types of care were practically synonymous. However, over the past several decades, these two care levels have greatly evolved into two distinct lifestyles – and that’s a good thing. The goals of these two types of care differ greatly. 

So what is the difference between Assisted Living communities and nursing homes? At Quartet Senior Living, we offer Assisted Living but are not a nursing home. We’ve put together information on what each lifestyle entails to help clear up what they are and what they aren’t, as well as information to help determine what lifestyle is right for you or a loved one. 

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living is a lifestyle designed for older adults who require a little extra assistance in order to live safely but who still want to live a social, independent life. We like to tell future residents and family members that it is a residential setting (unlike a nursing home, which is more of a healthcare setting).

In Assisted Living communities like Quartet Senior Living, residents enjoy a flexible, customizable and carefree lifestyle. Assistance is available for activities of daily living (ADLs), which can include medication management, bathing, dressing mobility, toileting and more. 

Quartet Senior Living’s Assisted Living care is designed to provide support where necessary so that our residents can continue to do the things they are able and love to do. Our residents live in private, maintenance-free apartments with as much or as little support as they need. Their time is theirs to enjoy the many services and amenities available at our thriving community, including delicious dining, wellness opportunities, classes and events, socialization opportunities, and so much more. 

There is a lot of care that can be provided to help residents stay in Assisted Living for longer than they may realize. For example, assistance with mobility (such as a wheelchair), toileting, bathing, and dressing can all be provided. In fact, residents who need hospice can actually stay in assisted living with hospice help – there’s no need to move to a nursing home. 

What is a nursing home?

Nursing homes, sometimes known as skilled nursing facilities, are facilities that are created to serve seniors and other adults with chronic illness and disease management. These types of communities offer a high level of personal care paired with medical services (something that isn’t available at Assisted Living facilities or independent living communities). serve seniors and others who require full-time monitoring and medical assistance. Seniors needing nursing home care often have severe health conditions that require having a skilled nurse available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The residents may be bedridden, require the use of a wheelchair, or have severe mobility limitations that can be dangerous for them on their own.

seniors enjoying coffee together in the dining room of assisted living

Care at Assisted Living vs. nursing homes

Assisted Living communities like Quartet Senior Living are designed to help residents be as independent as possible. Residents may need very little assistance – perhaps even just medication management – or a high level of care in order to live safely. However, Assisted Living residents do not require around-the-clock care, and they can live fulfilling, active and independent lifestyles filled with enjoyable events and activities. 

Quartet Senior Living Assisted Living residents receive personalized care based on a comprehensive plan designed by the resident and our care team. Our goal is always to help our residents remain socially engaged, healthy, fulfilled and happy. Our skilled professionals provide support services and health care customized to individual needs, including:

  • Medication management
  • Bathing/dressing/grooming
  • Managing diabetes
  • Toileting and continence care
  • Transferring
  • Catheter care
  • Coumadin management
  • Nebulizers
  • Monitoring vitals

Nursing homes provide around-the-clock skilled nursing care from trained medical professionals. This is important for individuals requiring specialized long-term care for conditions like cancer, advanced diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic or terminal illnesses. Skilled nursing facilities offer similar assistance with ADLs as Assisted Living communities, but they also provide more in-depth medical services such as:

  • Prescription medication administration, including injections
  • Dental services, both emergency and routine
  • Meal plans that meet specific dietary and nutritional requirements
  • Ongoing palliative and preventive long-term care
  • Increased safety features and security benefits to help residents live safely
  • Specialized rehabilitative services, such as cognitive, speech, physical, occupational vocational and physical therapies

Criteria for Assisted Living vs. nursing homes

What level of care will be best for you or a loved one? Understanding the criteria for both types of lifestyles can be helpful in determining which one is right for you. 

Assisted Living communities like Quartet Senior Living are an excellent choice for seniors who may not feel comfortable living completely independently but are still able to continue to do many of the things they enjoy doing. These types of communities are excellent for seniors who need a little assistance with daily tasks but still want the social, emotional and recreational benefits that come from living in a community with people in the same stage of life. Assisted Living may be the right choice if you:

  • Need a little extra help to live safely but don’t require full-time medical care
  • Want a maintenance-free lifestyle to free up your time to enjoy life
  • Want a more active social life but have difficulty securing transportation
  • Want to make new friends or find more social opportunities
  • Are generally in good health but want the peace of mind that comes from knowing help is available if necessary
  • Only need one person to provide care

If you or a senior loved one has debilitating health problems that require significant medical care, a nursing home is a better choice. This high level of medical care will provide peace of mind while also offering a lifestyle that’s as fulfilling as possible. A nursing home may be the right choice if you or a loved one: 

  • Needs constant medical supervision or care due to a health condition
  • Can’t feed themselves safely or independently
  • Needs significant rehabilitation following an injury, surgery or fall
  • Requires more than one person assisting them to live safely
  • Has a progressive medical condition like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease 

Cost of Assisted Living vs. nursing homes

On average, the costs for Assisted Living and nursing homes are more expensive than the cost for independent living – due to the fact that assistance and medical care are required. In 2021, the medium monthly cost to live at an Assisted Living community was $4,500, or $54,000 annually. Compare that to the median monthly cost for a private room at a nursing home in 2021, which was $9,034 per month. 

Assisted Living communities generally can’t be paid for through government-issued insurance, although some types of long-term care insurance may offer this. Some costs may potentially be tax deductible depending on your situation. Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, however, can sometimes be paid using insurance, Veterans benefits or government assistance like Medicare or Medicaid. Before making a choice based on price, it’s important to carefully research your options or speak with a social worker to determine what is available to you. 

What’s right for you?

Ultimately, determining the right choice for you or a loved one between nursing homes and assisted living facilities depends on each individual’s needs, desires and realities. Quartet Senior Living understands that many seniors want the freedom and independence available to Assisted Living residents, but there may be times when a resident requires more medical care than is commonly provided. 

Because of this, we are pleased to offer ancillary services to our Assisted Living residents for additional costs. Unlike other Assisted Living communities, our residents only pay for the services they receive – and don’t have to pay for services they don’t use. 

We offer licensed nurse unscheduled care – something that most Assisted Living communities don’t provide – in 15-minute increments. This gives our senior living residents peace of mind, knowing that if a more serious medical situation arises, they can receive the care they need without having to move into a long-term skilled nursing facility. We also offer other services in 15-minute increments, providing unparalleled service without having to overcharge our residents.

Now THIS Is Assisted Living at Its Finest!

Quartet Senior Living offers Assisted Living and Memory Care. If you’d like more information about Assisted Living and how you or a loved one can thrive here, contact us today.