Senior living communities come in many shapes and sizes, and there’s no universal approach for aging loved ones. Many people think of “senior living” and “nursing home” as synonymous, but over the past 30 years the terms have grown apart, and “nursing home” isn’t the senior care catch-all it used to be.
In fact, A Place for Mom surveyed 100 families who contacted us seeking “nursing homes” for their relatives. After consulting with our Senior Living Advisors, 89 of those families determined that a nursing home wasn’t the right choice for their aging family member, and they selected a more moderate senior living environment.
So what are the different senior care types, and which fits your loved one’s needs? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between assisted living and nursing homes.
Assisted living communities are a unique option for older adults who are mostly independent but require some assistance with day-to-day living. Nursing homes are generally designed for seniors who require 24-hour medical supervision due to physical or mental conditions that leave them unable to care for themselves.
Assisted living is a great housing choice for seniors who are no longer capable of living alone but want to maintain a social, active lifestyle. Considering these communities’ 93% satisfaction rate, it’s safe to say that assisted living isn’t what your aging loved one is picturing when they say they don’t want to move into “a home.”
Assisted living communities may offer:
The median cost of assisted living in the United States in 2019 was $4,051 per month. As you consider housing options for your aging loved one, you should also know that assisted living communities often have health standards for admitting new residents. For instance, one might have to be able to feed himself, or transfer between a bed and a wheelchair without assistance.
Assisted living may be a good option for your aging loved one who:
Nursing homes — also called convalescent homes, or sometimes skilled nursing facilities — are for seniors who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance.
Typical nursing home residents suffer from severe, debilitating physical or mental conditions that leave them unable to live independently. They may be bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or in need of daily skilled nursing care. Nursing homes always require a physician’s prescription and physical examination before accepting new residents.
The goal of a nursing home is to ensure the safety and comfort of older adults who need round-the-clock care. Nursing homes offer:
Nursing home care can be expensive: the average cost in the United States in 2019 was $247 per day, or $7,512 per month. However, not-for-profit nursing homes can often be paid for using government assistance for lower-income residents.
A nursing home may fit the needs of elderly loved ones who:
In the past several decades, senior living choices have expanded as the needs and expectations of older adults have changed. Finding the right option that meets your loved one’s needs is an important part of keeping them healthy, active, and safe. At no cost, a Place for Mom’s Smarter Senior Living Advisors can guide you through the many senior living options to help you find the best fit for your family.
Natalia crafts informative articles on many subjects that affect seniors' lives. With an eye on her own aging loved ones, her writing engages and resonates with younger and older adults alike. Her background includes a bachelor's degree in journalism and more than six years as a writer and researcher covering topics like retirement, senior care, and products for the elderly. She also writes about college, vocational training, and career planning.