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What to Expect in Assisted Living | Kendal on Hudson

Shot of a nurse caring for a senior patient in a retirement home

Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

It can be difficult to see your loved one struggling to live happily or safely in their current environment. Maybe they’re having trouble caring for themselves, forgetting to take their medication, or leaving household tasks unattended. At this point, you may be considering how a senior living community could benefit them.

But what sort of assistance do they need? How different is the experience from one level of care to the next? 

As you research your options, you might wonder—what’s the difference between an assisted living community and a nursing home? Keep reading to learn about these two senior living options and what you can expect from each.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a service provided to older adults who need support to complete activities of daily living but otherwise live independently. Assisted living residents have access to nursing staff who offer medical and personal support, but they live in private apartments and often get to set their daily routines.

Residents at an assisted living community are supported with care plans that are customized to their individual needs. Most assisted living communities offer residents:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) (bathing, dressing, toileting, cooking, cleaning, feeding, ambulating and transferring)
  • Medication management 
  • Health care coordination
  • Housekeeping services
  • Medical care at an on-site wellness center
  • Restaurant-style dining

“Assisted living at our community provides older adults with personal care support and fills their days with meaningful social, recreational and wellness activities. Residents receive the care they need in an environment that upholds their dignity and respects their independence,” says Pamela Klapproth, CEO of Kendal on Hudson.

When Is It Time for Assisted Living?

Here are a few common signs it might be the appropriate time for your loved one to move into an assisted living retirement community:

  • They struggle to perform ADLs independently
  • You’re worried they may experience a fall
  • They develop depression or are feeling lonely
  • Their personal hygiene declines

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is sometimes referred to as a skilled nursing facility. This is considered a higher level of care than assisted living. 

Nursing homes provide 24/7 care from medical professionals along with assistance with ADLs. These are more clinical environments than assisted living communities because they offer the most comprehensive care outside a hospital setting. At a Life Plan Community, skilled nursing is often one of several levels of care available to residents.

Typical care at a nursing home consists of:

  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy 
  • Custodial care that is similar to what you receive in assisted living
  • Assistance with mobility and transportation throughout the facility
  • Palliative and preventive care
  • Emergency services

Skilled nursing facilities offer short-term care for patients and long-term care for residents. Some patients are recovering after a hospital stay and will soon return to assisted living or back to their homes. Other patients require long-term care for chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease or emphysema. The best nursing home facilities offer plenty of recreational and social activities to help residents enjoy a higher quality of life. These activities will be curated for residents’ specialized abilities.