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Assisted Living Communities & Nursing Homes Are Not The Same: What’s the Difference?

There may come a time when we realize that our aging parents can no longer live independently—either they no longer want to live alone, or they are beginning to require more daily assistance. If you find yourself in this situation, you and your family now face the task of determining what senior living option is right for you.

Today, numerous senior living options and features are available, including varying levels of care, atmosphere, amenities, and cost. Deciding which care option is best for you and your family requires research, planning, and understanding of what each option entails.

Since most people don’t think about senior living until they need to, there are many misconceptions about what exactly senior living is and what is offered. It is commonly assumed that “nursing home” is an all-encompassing term used for all types of senior care—including assisted living and memory care. This is not true.

Knowing the difference between nursing homes and assisted living is crucial when determining which level of care is right for your parent or family member. You want to ensure that they are getting the best and most focused care.

Offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, Franklin Park® Senior Living is sharing a closer look at the differences between assisted living communities and nursing homes and how to know which is the best option for your family.

Differences in Level of Care

Nursing Home

Nursing homes, also known as Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), offer 24-hour, supervised medical care to residents or guests. These facilities or communities are for those who need round-the-clock assistance and attention—whether they are chronically ill or are recovering from an illness or surgery. Nursing homes typically consist of licensed medical professionals, including nurses, therapists, social workers, and dietitians. Nursing homes offer a wide variety of services to their residents, including a full spectrum of medical care, therapy services, dental care, dietary guidance, and beyond.

Many also offer short-term rehabilitation stays that help individuals recover from surgery or illness, making these facilities equipped for both short-term and long-term care.

Assisted Living

While nursing homes resemble a more hospital-like setting, assisted living communities provide care and support in a home-like environment.

For individuals with chronic conditions, an assisted living community can be an ideal alternative to frequent hospital visits. These communities have the tools and resources available to manage chronic symptoms, but they also focus on the comfort and engagement of the resident, creating a comprehensive care experience.

Assisted living communities can also help individuals with routine activities of daily living, like bathing, grooming, mobility, and eating. In addition to offering this support, these communities encourage independence, creating an environment where residents have the confidence and ability to succeed on their own.

Differences in Atmosphere

Nursing Home

Due to the higher degree of medical care provided by a nursing home, the atmosphere can be much more clinical than an assisted living community. Since many of the residents in skilled nursing facilities may be on bed-rest or have limited mobility due to their conditions, the environment is typically less lively and community-based. The apartments are often not private, and common areas may be limited, as nursing home amenities tend to be more focused on rehabilitation than pleasure.

Assisted Living

On the other hand, the senior housing industry has drastically improved over the last decade, and assisted living communities, like Franklin Park® Senior Living, offer a luxury environment with amenities and features closely resembling a high-end resort. Assisted living communities are designed to make residents and guests feel like they are truly at home. The less clinical approach to care used in these communities allows for more focus to be placed on creating a comfortable and even lush setting.

At Franklin Park® Assisted Living communities, we offer various floor plans, including one and two-bedroom options, where residents are encouraged to make their space their own. In addition to private spaces, our communities offer elegant common areas intended for residents to engage in their passions and socialize with their neighbors and peers.

Differences in Engagement 

Nursing Home

Since nursing homes offer short-term transitional housing in many cases, they don’t need to focus on building a robust and ongoing activity calendar as assisted living communities do.

Skilled nursing facilities do offer activities and programs, but since their residents require a more constant level of medical attention, these activities will often be low-intensity and on a one-to-one basis.

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are often an energetic and lively environment, providing residents with countless activities and community events. At Franklin Park Assisted Living, we offer a wide variety of activities designed for physical, mental, social, and spiritual wellness. On any given day in a Franklin Park® community, you’ll find residents in guided exercise and water aerobics classes, woodworking lessons, or enjoying happy hour!

Differences in Financial Options & Cost

Nursing Home

Another differentiating factor between the two care types is the cost. Because skilled nursing facilities are medical in nature and often used for short-term care, Medicaid or Medicare can typically cover the cost. Since there are specific qualifying factors regarding coverage and eligibility, we encourage you to contact the Texas Medicare Agency for more information applicable to you and your family.

Assisted Living

Since assisted living is long-term and doesn’t involve in-depth medical care, these services are not typically covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Still, there are several other options to help your family pay for assisted living. In addition, if you or your loved one is a veteran, you may be eligible for assisted living, live-in, or home health care through Veterans Affairs. Visit to learn more.

Long-term care insurance, cashing in a 401(K) plan, or selling real estate investments can go a long way in covering the cost of assisted living. It’s also important to remember that assisted living communities are usually all-inclusive, so the cost will include your room and board, meals, care, and other services, and all the activities and events offered. Many people find that senior living expenses are more cost-effective than staying at home in the long run!

Assisted Living Community vs. Nursing Home

While there are many differences between nursing homes and assisted living communities, it’s important to remember that one is not better than the other. They each offer a unique set of features and services that cater to individuals in a specific and intentional manner.

To determine which care option is best for your parent or family member, discuss and assess their needs and priorities. If your parent is chronically ill and requires professional medical attention on a consistent basis, a skilled nursing facility is most likely the best option.

If your parent is mostly active and independent but sometimes needs assistance or feels isolated at home, an assisted living community, like Franklin Park®, may be the right choice.

Assisted Living in San Antonio, Texas 

Franklin Park® Senior Living offers luxury assisted living communities throughout the San Antonio, Texas, area. Each community provides residents with daily support with activities, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and meal assistance. We work with each resident and their family to create a custom care plan and take steps to ensure they’re given all the tools they need to achieve their personal goals.

Our resort-style communities feature high-quality amenities and shared spaces that are sure to keep residents engaged and excited. From water aerobics to relaxing at the bar with friends or practicing your aim on the putting green, there’s something for everyone at our assisted living communities.

If you think that a family member could benefit from assisted living services, we encourage you to schedule a tour at a Franklin Park® community near you. Our assisted living communities are located throughout the San Antonio, Texas, area, near popular attractions like The Alamo, San Antonio River Walk, and the San Antonio Zoo.

For more information, we invite you to contact a member of our team today!

Updated on December 1, 2020