As the senior care industry continues to expand, the wide variety of options can be overwhelming to older adults and their families. Each type of care is designed to meet different needs and interests, but there is overlap in the services of some. For families who haven’t been through this process before, understanding the differences between types of care and determining which one best meets their senior loved one’s needs can be challenging.

There are two types of senior housing people find especially confusing: assisted living communities and nursing homes. Seniors and their adult children often think these two distinct types of senior living are one and the same. They are not. Here’s a quick introduction to each.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are a senior housing option that combines the best of two worlds: older adults enjoy their own private apartment but have around-the-clock caregivers nearby when a helping hand is needed. It allows a senior to remain independent and safe.

Caregivers in an assisted living community provide support with activities that are generally considered to be custodial in nature. Simply put, they help with tasks that don’t require the assistance of a skilled nurse or therapist. These include:

  • Bathing, grooming, and dressing

  • Toileting and continence care

  • Medication reminders and assistance

  • Housekeeping and laundry

Meals, utilities, and transportation services are usually included in the basic monthly fee of an assisted living community.

Another important benefit of moving to an assisted living community is the opportunity to socialize with peers and engage in a broad range of life enrichment activities and wellness programs throughout each day.

What Is a Nursing Home?

While assisted living communities focus on supporting custodial tasks, a nursing home caters to people who have more clinically complex medical needs. A resident might have a pulmonary disease that requires the daily support of a respiratory therapist or diabetes that needs management.

Nursing home residents usually have private or semiprivate rooms instead of an apartment or suite. Some nursing homes have private bathrooms, while others offer shared bathrooms.

Residents of a nursing home receive the same support with bathing, grooming, and dressing as assisted living residents do. Meals, transportation, housekeeping, and laundry are also provided.

Many nursing homes also have a dedicated rehab center. These are for short-term rehabilitation patients who are usually transferred from an area hospital after an illness or surgery. The goal is to help the patient recover and return home.

How to Select the Right Senior Living Community

Once you determine which type of senior housing is right for a loved one, the next step is to find a community that best suits their needs. With so many options from which to choose, the decision can be tough to make. Pricing, location, and quality of care vary from community to community.

That’s where the support of a local care advisor can help. The care advisor can help you narrow down your choices and set up times for you to tour those that are a good fit for your senior loved one. This is a free service designed to help seniors and their families make an informed decision. Contact us today to talk with a senior care advisor who knows the communities near you.