What Are the Differences Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living?

the primary differences between assisted living and nursing home facilities
What are the Major Differences Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living?

Assisted living is typically a private-pay situation and non-medical but the staff assists with all ADL’s (activities of daily living). Nursing home stays are typically short-term and medically necessary for rehabilitation. Learn more details in this 3 minute video.

The Evolution of Nursing Homes

I get a question quite a lot, or a misunderstanding, of the differences between a nursing home and assisted living. Can you elaborate on that and the differences?

That’s a misconception that a lot of people have. Prior to the start of what we call assisted living, which took place in the 1980’s, everybody that needed assistance would be going to a nursing home or a convalescent home.

You might have heard your mom say, “Oh grandma was in a convalescent home”. But in the 1980’s something happened and assisted living was born.

Watch the video now! Prefer to read? Here’s the gist of what else senior placement experts, Todd and Kelley, spoke about in this video clip.

Nursing Homes Are Now Typically Called Skilled Nursing

Now if you look at the difference between assisted living and what we call acute rehab or skilled nursing, there’s a big difference between the two. So that old nursing home that mom talked about grandma being in has kind of funneled down to either assisted living or skilled nursing.

Reasons People Use Assisted Living

Assisted living is non-medical and it is a private pay situation. The details of that we can go into at another time, but just for our sake, assisted living is non-medical, and it’s private pay.

Reasons People Use Skilled Nursing Facilities

The other option is skilled nursing. And skilled nursing is generally where somebody will go to get rehab. So for example if somebody you know:

  • has a stroke
  • has fallen at home
  • has some generalized weakness

they would go to the hospital and then they would go to skilled nursing for some type of rehab, speech, occupational or physical therapy.

And that’s for a short stay that is considered medically necessary. So the insurance pays for it and then they discharge usually back home or they can discharge to assisted living.

Options for Longer Stays in Skilled Nursing

The little caveat about that is that if you are on public assistance like MediCal, if you need that assistance, and you can’t afford assisted living then you can go to skilled nursing and actually end up going into their long-term section, which is long term skilled nursing. But that is not something that is easy to get into. And it’s not just like you can go to assisted living and pick out your apartment. You can’t go to skilled nursing, pick out a room and stay there.

Summary of Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

Assisted Living is non-medical, but they will help with all ADL’s (activities of daily living):

  • bathing
  • dressing
  • grooming
  • using the bathroom
  • meal preparation
  • medication monitoring.

They do a lot and make life easier for the elderly.

Nursing homes on the other side is best suited for either short-term rehab that MediCare will pay for or long-term custodial care. That’s going to be more of a MediCal situation.