There are more than 50 million Americans over the age of 65. Of these, around 1.5 million reside in nursing homes and another million in assisted living facilities. If you’re trying to decide whether a nursing home or assisted living facility is right for you or your loved one, you’re far from alone.

Understanding the Difference

Although some people erroneously use the terms interchangeably, assisted living and nursing homes are actually very different, and it’s important to cover the specifics.

An assisted living facility is generally best for people who are still active and can manage some of their own care. Residents may need some help with activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing or grooming. A nurse is usually on-site, but hospital-level care isn’t provided. Many people in assisted living are there for companionship versus serious medical issues.

A nursing home is also known as a skilled nursing facility. They’re designed to provide medical care as close to a hospital as possible. A nursing home is ideal for those with severe health conditions that require constant medical supervision. Many nursing homes require a physician’s note for someone to become a resident.

Determining the Care Level Needed

The most significant factor in deciding between a nursing home and assisted living is how much care you or your loved one needs. For example, is memory care necessary after a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Do you have serious medical conditions that require constant professional care? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, a nursing home is likely the best choice.

If you answered no to those questions, consider how active you are. Are you able to get around with little to no assistance? Can you cook your meals? Do you remember to take your medication? If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, assisted living is likely the right choice for you. You might also want to schedule a doctors appointment and consult with a physician who can help you decide the level of care you or your loved one may require.

Figuring Out How You’ll Pay For It

Nursing home care ranges between $13,000 and $14,000 a month by some estimates. If you have Medicaid, some of these costs may be covered. However, additional funding will likely be necessary.

If you’re moving to either assisted living or a nursing home, selling your home could help free up some cash. Remember to take certain deductions like realtor fees and the remaining balance on your mortgage into account when estimating your home sale profits. Determining how much homes similar to yours are selling for can give an idea of a sale price before deductions.

Other options for payment may include retirement savings, pensions, and social security checks. If you have children, they may want to help ease the financial burden a little. They may not pay the full payment each month, but even small contributions can help.

Make the Right Choice for You

Determining the level of care you or your loved needs will be the most significant factor in choosing between a nursing home or assisted living facility. While this will take planning, it’s also important to approach the matter delicately when talking to your loved ones and try your best to respect others’ wishes and concerns.

This information is compliments of Beverly Nelson, Stand Up for Caregivers.  Thanks Beverly!


You will find my book Parkinson’s: A Love Story with Dementia for Dessert on Amazon.  Your feedback and reviews are most welcome.

If you would like to receive e-mail notification when I post additional content, please sign up through this link. You may unsubscribe at any time.