What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?

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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2018
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The main difference between assisted living and a nursing home is the amount and type of care given to an individual. Nursing homes tend to provide round-the-clock medical care as well as daily living assistance. Assisted living usually involves living arrangements such as townhouses or apartments in which an individual has minimal daily or medical assistance. In an assisted-living facility, each person lives his or her life much like normal, with the added benefit of communal living, medication reminders and planned activities.

When an individual is placed in a nursing home, he or she is cared for full-time by a staff of doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Generally, a person who can no longer care for himself or herself because of medical or other conditions is placed in a nursing home to live. This is the main difference between assisted living and a nursing home. In a nursing home, each individual generally needs the frequent help of nurses to assist with various tasks, administer medication or track vital signs; needs a doctor on call in case of emergencies; and needs someone to care for most aspects of his or her life.


Assisted living can be contrasted with living in a nursing home. Many people feel that there is an important difference between assisted living and a nursing home. Individuals who need little to no supervision generally live in an assisted-living facility. They have the added benefit of living close to others, which can help in an emergency; having someone provide medication reminders; participating in planned recreational activities; and possibly laundry, housekeeping and other services.

Cost is another difference between assisted living and a nursing home. Nursing homes usually are more expensive because care is given all the time. The care is not limited to daily living personnel but also includes medical personnel, which raises the price considerably. Assisted living is similar to renting an apartment or townhouse, so costs are more in line with what many people pay on a regular monthly basis. When an individual looks into the options of assisted living and nursing homes, he or she should remember that cost should not be the driving force behind the decision.

Another difference between assisted living and a nursing home is the potential for government regulations. Assisted-living facilities are often little more than apartment or townhouse communities for a target group of individuals. Nursing homes involve more types of care and a greater cost, which often warrants government regulation. Some people believe that this helps control costs, sets an industry standard and helps cut down on incidences of abuse.



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