Families of seniors in need of professional care often have to overcome a very common misunderstanding. The mere mention of moving to a place where their personal and medical needs will be met is likely to stir up an angry reaction: “You want to put me in a nursing home!?”

It’s unfortunate that the term “assisted living” has become synonymous with “nursing home.” To be clear, the two types of senior housing share many elements in common, but they are genuinely different in just as many regards.

Whether you’re considering care options for a loved one or need help explaining your parent’s future accommodations to them, understanding the key differences between assisted living and a nursing home is critical to moving forward.

A Nursing Home Has More Onsite Medical Services

Assisted living residences and nursing homes both offer the help their residents need to live their day-to-day lives. This includes meal preparation, housekeeping services, and medication management. That last form of assistance is essential, as most seniors do not properly take their medications. Either form of housing provides immediate assistance should a resident slip and fall or suffer another type of injury or medical emergency.

Although residents of assisted living are never far from any medical attention they could possibly need, nursing homes do keep more of those services onsite where they’re immediately accessible. This includes registered nurses, some medical treatments, and possibly a resident doctor.

A Nursing Home Offers More Assistance With Everyday Activities

True to its name, assisted living provides residents with the aid they need to enjoy healthy and active lifestyles. Should a resident require help with something such as getting out of a chair, trimming their toenails, or getting dressed in the morning, a resident assistant or certified nursing assistant will be available to provide it. Residents in assisted living are for the most part ambulatory, although wheelchair users are also common when they suffer from few other health conditions.

In contrast, a nursing home provides far more extensive assistance. Residents of nursing homes are commonly unable to move about without help, and also suffer from more serious health conditions which cannot be managed without daily hands-on care. Nursing home residents usually have some form of dementia or another cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s. Seniors suffering from these conditions may also elect to board at a memory care facility.

A Nursing Home Looks More Like a Hospital

Most assisted living communities look nearly indistinguishable from upscale apartment buildings or dormitories. A single assisted living community may have anywhere from 10 to 300 residents, each of whom has their own suite or apartment. These rooms have their own private baths and possibly kitchenettes. Residents share common areas as well as access to a courtyard or other outdoor area.

A nursing home doesn’t look nearly as sterile as a hospital, but it does resemble one more closely than assisted living. Residents frequently require round-the-clock medical attention, so nurses, doctors and medical devices give nursing homes a more institutional atmosphere. It is common for nursing home residents to share rooms with one another, although private rooms may also be available. Nursing homes typically accommodate 100 or fewer residents, which prevents the staff from neglecting anyone.

A Nursing Home Charges More

Because nursing home residents require a higher degree of supervision and medical care, they pay approximately 50% to 100% more than assisted living residents. But whereas assisted living residents usually pay for their care out of pocket, people staying in nursing homes are typically paid for by Medicaid or another similar healthcare program.

Without question, the best way to get a sense of what assisted living is like is to see it in person. That’s why we welcome seniors and their families living throughout the greater Tea, South Dakota area to come tour the accommodations at Morgan Lane Village. Please contact us today with any questions you might have about our facilities or to schedule your visit!