The Difference Between Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, Senior Living, and Home Care

A happy senior man and woman sitting outside, enjoying the sun

If you’re researching different care options for a senior loved one, you may have come across several terms that are difficult to tell apart. Below, we will cover the basics about nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior living, and home care so that you can feel more informed about your loved one’s living arrangement.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are designed to provide long-term medical care for individuals whose needs exceed the capacity of a home setting. In a nursing home, residents have access to 24-hour skilled nursing care in order to meet their specific health needs. For instance, Heritage Assisted Living is specially equipped to aid residents suffering from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in our legacy wing.

Staff at nursing homes may provide medical care as well as physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Additionally, some nursing homes are equipped with specialty care units, like those for palliative care residents and individuals living with dementia.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living does not usually specialize in medical care the way that a nursing home does, but these communities do offer residents some level of medical care. In addition to ensuring that residents receive the medical care they need, the staff are trained to provide personal care services and assist with activities of daily living.

While a nursing home usually has more of a medical setting, assisted living communities are usually more home-like, with apartments or individual rooms.

Services included in assisted living care often include:

  • Medication monitoring
  • Personal care
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Food service
  • Recreational activities

Senior Living

Senior living, also known as independent living encompasses a wide range of housing options for seniors. Usually, this type of arrangement is provided in an age-restricted community setting, designed to house individuals who are at least 55 years old. Most of the time, they do not offer personal care services or medical monitoring, as they are meant for independent seniors who do not require such services. Think of this arrangement as you would any standard living quarters (mobile home parks, condos, apartments, etc.), but catered to individuals who are senior citizens.

Home Care

Home care allows seniors to remain in their homes while personal care aides and nurses visit them in order to provide services. Some home care arrangements rely on a live-in caregiver while others have the individual’s family provide the home care services. In other scenarios, various professionals provide for the individual at different times of the day.

The goal is to allow the individual to stay at home while ensuring that they receive the care services they need.

A senior’s need for care can be met in a number of ways, through several living arrangements. If you’re unsure about the level of care that your loved one needs, please feel free to ask questions when you interact with medical professionals and individuals who manage various care communities.