After all of your years of hard work, you deserve to finally enjoy your free time at a place that you will feel comfortable. Now is the best time to start asking yourself, "Assisted living vs. nursing home, which one is for me?"

There are a few differences between the two options. And it's important to know the difference before you make your decision.

What Is The Difference Between Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home


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Knowing the difference between assisted living vs. nursing home is a big deal. Trying to figure out where you should go is a tough decision and one you should not just jump into without further research.

We know that leaving your home is a sad time and a decision that you likely wish you didn't have to make.

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to do what is best for you. The state in which you live will determine what types of facilities are available.

The basic difference in the assisted living vs. nursing home decision is that assisted living assists you in your daily living, while nursing homes care for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But let's go into more detail, so you can make the best decision.

Assisted Living


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Assisted living facilities are housing units that offer services that foster your continued independence. Most assisted living places will help you with the most basic daily activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, shopping, paying bills, and much more.

This type of home is for short stay only, with most clients only staying up to three years or less. After that time, clients either return home or transfer to a nursing home.

The assisted living facilities provide you with three meals a day, and some may offer snacks.

You will stay in either a semiprivate or completely private apartments homes. All of these homes have kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and some have furnishings.

They can come in many different sizes, such as a studio, one-bedroom, or dormitory style room. The great thing with this style of living is the housekeeping perk.

Also, most of the assisted living places have many things for you to keep busy including pools, libraries, gardens, walking paths, golf courses, fishing areas, fitness centers, beauty and barber shops, spas, and so much more.

Nursing Home

elderly with cane

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A nursing home is for those that can not take care of themselves but can not stay in a hospital. Nursing homes have around the clock nursing care seven days a week. The staff is there to help you with all your needs -- everything an assisted living facility does and much more. These facilities offer medical care, types of therapy, personal care, and have physicians available every day.

Most of the nursing homes are set up like hospitals, with two beds in each room and a shared restroom. There is typically a communal dining area, but some patients eat in their room. Nursing homes can also have walking areas, libraries, gardens, activity space for games, television, and a radio.

Most people go to a nursing home for their final years of life. This type of faculty is not for active patients that can care for themselves.

Some nursing homes help patients who have had a recent stroke or illness that require monitoring and rehabilitation for a short period. Then the patient returns home or to an assisted living facility after they are better.

Knowing Which One Is Best For You

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When deciding on assisted living vs. nursing home for yourself, you will need to ask yourself a few questions before making that leap. Will this be temporary or long term? Can you still cook and feed yourself? Do you need help bathing or need assistance with other personal care?

Knowing which type of facility will help you the most, whether it's for rehabilitation or simply feeling more comfortable during your golden years, is very important.

We know you may not want to do this or you may even feel pressured to leave your home. Explore your options and seek out the best living arrangements that will keep you healthy, comfortable, and safe.

If You Have Any Health Issues

Unfortunately, when you have specific health issues such as dementia, incontinence, required wound care, intravenous treatment, Alzheimer's, and other health conditions, you may need to move into a nursing home.

If you are bedridden, need help getting up, or fall often, then a nursing home may be your next step and only option.

If you do decide to try it at home, there are home health services available in most areas. However, they can often be pricey, especially for round-the-clock care.

Are You Still Active?

Can you get up every morning and get ready for the day by yourself? Do you still like to play golf, shop, swim, or do other activities without assistance?

If you are active but only need help with paying bills, cleaning, cooking, and other minor things, then you may only need to move into an assisted living facility.

Often you can receive home health services for personal care like bathing while living in an assisted living facility.

Third party agencies employ traveling certified nursing assistants to help with such duties a few times per week. While visiting facilities, ask about the availability of using such services.

With an assisted living facility, you will still retain most of your freedom and be able to do everything that you are accustomed to doing daily.

What To Watch Out For

elderly woman

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When you have finally decided on what type of place you will need to move into, the next step will be finding the best facility for your needs.

Unfortunately, for me, my father was only 56 years old when he needed the assistance of a nursing home. He had to be transferred many times due to the facility treating him wrong.

It was a very difficult time for my family and, of course, even worse for my father. If we had done the proper research, we could have avoided a lot of heartache and frustration.

Take the time to visit the facilities you are considering. Take notes, ask questions, and remember this place should make you feel safe and happy. You should not get scared or sad while entering into your future home.

If you have a gut feeling that it isn't the right place, look elsewhere.

Track Record Of The Facility

It is required by law that the facility must keep a record of accidents that happen. Looking into the facility's history will help you tremendously when deciding if it is the right place for you, or if you should consider other options.

Some places unknowingly hire lousy staff, and the patient is the one who suffers from this.

Death Count

It's always a good idea to check into the death count of the facility. While you can expect to see a higher rate of death in facilities caring for aging and terminally ill people, exceptionally high death rates due to infections, or possible neglect, should raise a red flag.


Like with every place you stay, it should be clean and smell fresh. That's the same with an assisted living residence and a nursing home.

The first thing you smell when walking through the door should not be the stench of urine or feces. When doing a walkthrough, the cleanliness of the facility should be apparent.

Additionally, you should have the peace of mind that the food preparations are sanitary.

Nursing homes have federal regulations they must follow. Assisted living facilities only have health and safety inspections and rules via a state agency. However, both are regulated and must adhere to specific guidelines.

When looking into assisted living facilities in your state, it's a good idea to explore what those guidelines are with your state's regulatory body.


Most staff can be amazing caregivers and go above and beyond to help you. However, it's worth mentioning that sometimes there's a bad apple.

While exploring facilities, take note of how the staff interacts with each other and residents. Ask about the facilities turnover rate and resident to caregiver ratios.

Obviously, if you see anything concerning regarding ill-trained or disgruntled staff that you perceive as abusive or using negligent practices, move on to another option. Also, please consider reporting such incidents to authorities.

Having a checklist before your visit will assist you in performing a thorough evaluation of your potential new home.

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home: Which One Is Best For You?

Your happiness and well being are paramount. You should not stay anywhere you feel care will be lacking or your needs not met.

With that said, deciding between assisted living vs. nursing home care can be a smooth process with a little homework. What it really boils down to is weighing out your wants and needs with the services provided by the facilities and residences in your area.

What attributes do you feel are the most important to consider when considering care options for you or a family member? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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