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How is Assisted Living Different From a Nursing Home?

When a senior loved one needs a little extra help, families often struggle to figure out where to find it. They don’t always understand the differences between the various types of senior care that are available and which one might be the best fit.

One of the most common sources of confusion is whether or not there is any real difference between an assisted living community and a nursing home. Many believe an assisted living community is just a more upscale version of a traditional nursing home.

Then there are the many myths that surround senior living—for example, what services are and aren’t offered—that further complicate the issue.

We thought it might help to explore the differences between nursing homes and assisted living communities. We’ll bust some of the myths that make it so confusing for seniors and their families.

Assisted Living Communities vs. Nursing Homes

Myth: Nursing homes and assisted living centers offer the same type of care. The only difference is the physical appearance.

Reality: The appearance of these two types of senior living centers is usually quite different, but the differences don’t stop there. The primary difference is the types of care offered.

An assisted living community is designed to help older adults with personal care (bathing, grooming, dressing), medication management, meals, and life enrichment programs.

By contrast, a nursing home is for older adults and people who have a disability that requires complex medical interventions by skilled health care professionals. It might be an older adult who requires wound care support or assistance with a tracheotomy.

Myth: If a senior can’t manage their medication schedule independently, they need a nursing home level of care.

Reality: While nursing homes can provide support with medication, it is actually one of the most commonly provided services in an assisted living community, too. And it’s easy to understand why when you know this: 67% of adults between the ages of 62 and 85 take five or more medications or supplements each day.

Myth: Assisted living communities are so expensive that only wealthy people can afford them.

Reality: When families first begin searching for an assisted living community, they might think the cost is prohibitive. As they learn more, however, it becomes more obvious that this type of senior living boasts great value.

Many of the expenses a senior incurs living at home are included in the monthly fee: room and board, utilities, basic cable, transportation, meals and snacks, housekeeping, an emergency call system, and more.

Then there is the added value of knowing a caregiver is nearby around the clock in case the older adult needs assistance or has an emergency.

Myth: People who live in assisted living communities don’t have much to do beyond watching television and playing bingo.

Reality: Nothing could be further from the truth! Residents in assisted living communities like HarborChase have a wide variety of life enrichment and wellness activities to participate in all day, every day. From yoga to cooking classes and daily devotionals to dart tournaments, there is something for everyone. And yes, that does include bingo!

Myth: The food is terrible in senior care communities!

Reality: This is another popular misconception that just doesn’t hold up. At HarborChase, for example, our chef-prepared meals are healthy and delicious. Culinary teams use seasonal, local ingredients. Residents have their choice of menu items, and meals are served restaurant-style. Mealtimes become a social affair and a time to enjoy catching up with friends.

Schedule a Visit to Harbor Chase

Ready to learn more?

Call the HarborChase community nearest you to schedule a private tour!