What is the difference between a nursing home and assisted living?

Find out more about the differences between nursing homes and assisted living communities to better determine what is best for your loved ones
What is the difference between a nursing home and assisted living?

It can become challenging to navigate daily routines and activities as we age. You or a loved one may need more support to do laundry, chores around the house, manage medicine, and other tasks. If you are considering a move for yourself or a senior in your family, there are many options to choose from to make life easier and more enjoyable. Two of the most well-known senior living communities are assisted living and nursing homes. Both offer consistent support for seniors but have unique differences. Often, people are unsure of the distinctions between a nursing home and an assisted living community. This article breaks down the criteria of an assisted living community vs a nursing home to give you a better idea of how to help your loved ones and make a decision that is best for their needs.


Typically, residents in a nursing home have health care conditions and require more support and around-the-clock monitoring. Therefore, nursing homes offer more comprehensive care so that residents are happy, supported, and given all of the medical care that they need. Both nursing homes and assisted living communities focus on keeping their residents healthy and happy. Still, a nursing home is geared towards those who require more medical attention and have a more clinical environment. Residents typically live in a private or semi-private room.

There are two aspects to a nursing home on the medical side, including rehab and LTC, known as long-term care. These are usually covered by Medicare 1-20 100% and 21-100 80%. Although this is true for some residents, not everyone in a nursing home is qualified to receive it. Residents who have a skilled nursing need, including the need for a ventilator, or 24-hour IV, would fall under it. Medical conditions such as wounds and obesity would fall under private pay instead. Overall, nursing homes have a skilled medical team, a supportive environment, and around-the-clock care for residents.


An assisted living community is suitable for senior residents who need help with activities of daily living, including bathing, getting dressed, eating, using the restroom, and moving around. Staff at assisted living communities can also assist with medication management, housekeeping, and more. Assisted living is ideal for residents who need some support but can mostly maintain an independent lifestyle. Medical staff in an assisted living community can help with certain medical aspects, but not anything invasive, such as catheters or other procedures. They can help with eye drops, hearing aids, medication management, and more.

Assisted living communities offer residents more of a home-like feel, with private apartments with bathrooms and kitchens. In addition, residents receive three healthy meals each day and access to life enrichment programs in an individual or group setting, such as arts and crafts, exercise, games, and more. Along with more independence, assisted living communities provide their residents with more personalized service and space to engage with others in the community.

Moving into an assisted living community or nursing home can help your loved ones with their needs and also offer a range of enriching activities for them to enjoy. Our friendly staff can help you navigate any obstacles and provide information on our programs, staff, and amenities. We are here to support the senior community in any way that we can and provide information on the criteria for ADLs and nursing homes so you can make the best decision. If you have any questions about whether a nursing home or an assisted living community would be a better fit for your loved one, the experts at Frontier Senior Living are happy to assist you! Contact us today.

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