Choosing between nursing home care and assisted living for a loved one who requires residential care is a difficult decision and one that is faced by many families. Typically, families have very little experience with either type of care and often feel ill-prepared to make the correct decision. The aim of this article is to help families by comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each type of care, including an examination of the payment options, since a decision cannot be made without taking this factor into account.
Overall, the main difference between nursing home care and assisted living is that nursing homes provide medical and personal care in a clinical setting, while assisted living primarily provides personal care in a home-like, social setting. While there are some conditions and needs that cannot be met in assisted living, the services and intermittent medical care that are often provided can make assisted living a viable option for more seniors than ever before. Since assisted living maximizes quality of life and provides a more independent lifestyle, it’s often preferred over nursing home care when possible.
Individuals who need frequent hospital stays may prefer a nursing home as the additional services that can be provided there may prevent them from having to move as often.
Having Alzheimer’s or dementia does not necessarily mean nursing home care is required. Many assisted living communities have specialized areas for individuals with Alzheimer’s in which increased supervision is provided to help prevent wandering.