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It is important to be well informed on the various types of senior care options available when facing the decision of assisted living vs. nursing home facilities.  There are many differences and concerns that are crucial to consider in order to ensure that you or your loved one receive the proper care and find the right services to suit your needs. The objective here is to help anyone at the crossroads of transitioning into a senior care facility understand the differences of assisted living vs nursing home facilities.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living does offer more privacy and independence, with inhabitants occupying apartment-like residencies that they can personalize and maintain primarily on their own.  The communal aspects typically includes shared dining and recreational facilities as well as other optional daily activities which could include fitness classes, movie nights, or off campus trips.

Definition of Assisted Living:

“A combining of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the individual needs of persons who need help with the activities of daily living, but do not need the skilled medical care provided in a nursing home.”

These kinds of facilities have round-the clock staff that are available in case of emergencies, but the main focus of assisted living facilities is “on providing a healthy and vibrant social environment that supports healthy cognitive function and prevents isolation.”  It is a semi-independent environment with staff available to help with more strenuous tasks such as bathing or dressing.

It is important to note that assisted living facilities are do not usually have medical licenses and therefore medical or living expenses are not covered by most insurance companies unless you have a plan that includes a package specifically for assisted living care.

Happy Seniors at an Assisted Living Home

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes also have communal dining and recreation rooms, though the residence are less apt to participate due to their physical limitations and need for more intensive medical attention.  The rooms resemble the general layout of hospital rooms and are usually shared by two people.  Patients are continually cared for by nurses and other staff to help maintain medication, physical therapy, and any of the patient other medical or personal needs.  

Nursing Home Definition

“A public or private residential facility providing a high level of long-term personal or nursing care for persons (such as the aged or the chronically ill) who are unable to care for themselves properly.”

Costs also vary for nursing homes and can be covered by private pay, insurance, and in most cases Medicare or Medicaid.  Nursing homes in comparison to assisted living facilities are usually higher in costs due to the degree and duration of the medial attention and care required.

Senior at an Assisted Living Facility

Making the Choice

It can be difficult to discern with clarity the need for assisted living vs nursing home facilities.  When is the right time?  Though there are many factors and hard decisions to be made when choosing a plan for your parent or loved one, ultimately the medical needs should be the primary factor as to which type of senior care is right for you.  

For seniors with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, or other progressive conditions, moving to a nursing home sooner rather than later could be beneficial and the most stable environment for their needs in the long run.

Assisted living residences are great transitional communities for seniors to live their day-to-lives with relative independence and an active communal life with the regular availability of staff to help with more difficult tasks and to ensure that residents are healthy and well cared for.

Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Some things you should definitely be aware of when researching which senior care facility to choose are factors such as cleanliness, staff friendliness, and safety.  Click here to read more helpful tips for choosing an assisted living facility.


Assisted living is meant to provide your loved one with the care they need to live happy and healthy in a supportive environment while still maintaining semi-independent lives. It is important to understand what assisted living vs nursing homes have to offer so that you can figure out what option is best for you.

If you have any questions about the services of Green Valley Commons, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We will be happy to answer your questions and give you a tour of our residences.

Green Valley Commons - Assisted Living in Winchester, VA

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