Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living

Nursing Homes or Assisted Living – What’s the Difference?

Older woman painting

When you’re beginning your search for the next level of care for either yourself or a loved one, it’s easy to get confused by the options out there. Many of us grew up with the concept of nursing homes, so it’s no surprise they often get confused with assisted living. But we’re here to share the differences between the two, so you can make the right decision for you or your loved one.

Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are primarily for people with serious medical needs that require round the clock assistance. Whether it’s a chronic disease, acute illness or short-term rehabilitation stay, nursing homes are generally recommended by healthcare providers when someone has advanced medical needs.

In an assisted living setting, you still have access to care, but the primary focus is on maintaining an active, social and engaging lifestyle. Many assisted living residents do not require any care and join a Benchmark community to enjoy a robust social lifestyle. And for those residents who do need more assistance, our assisted living communities provide personalized care plans tailored to each of your needs to help you remain as independent as possible. Some residents receive a lot of assistance throughout the day, while others require very little. Care plans are reassessed on a regular basis and will be adjusted promptly when health needs change.

If you would benefit from some assistance with daily living activities, but still want to participate in engaging programs, social events and enjoy fine dining with friends, then assisted living may be the right option.

Learn more about about assisted living

Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions below to help you determine the next best step for you or a loved one.

Q: I’m worried about how my loved one will adjust to a new living arrangement. Do either assisted living or skilled nursing facilities provide transitional support?
A: At Benchmark, our Signature Services program is available for extra support at an additional cost to help our residents get settled. A friend to have lunch with or simply an emotional support can be tremendously helpful for making an adjustment to assisted living.
Skilled nursing facilities, on the other hand, provide a social worker or case manager, to address any medical or emotional needs the resident may have and can recommend additional healthcare services if they deem it necessary.

Q: Can residents of assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities decorate their spaces or bring their own furniture?
A: Of course! At Benchmark assisted living communities, our residents’ apartment or suite is their home and we welcome our residents to decorate them with personal touches and belongings. We can even provide brand new furniture and move-in assistance to help make your move easier!
Skilled nursing facilities provide either a private or semi-private room, both furnished, but personal touches are always welcome. Most skilled nursing facility rooms feature specialized furniture, such as hospital beds.

Q: Will my loved one be bored in an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility?
A: At Benchmark, we are known for our award-winning assisted living experiences that nurture passions, connections and enhance quality of life. Throughout each day, we offer individualized and group programs in parallel. Even if the group program being offered isn’t of interest, residents can choose from a wide range of individualized programs that meet their specific interests.
Some of our assisted living program offerings include lifelong learning classes, the opportunity to share one’s wisdom with others through volunteer and intergenerational opportunities, resident clubs, art and music therapy, gardening, fitness programs, off-site trips, recreational programs and much more*.
In a skilled nursing facility, while a few group activities like games or movies are offered, the primary focus is on providing a healing environment.

Q: How do assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities handle pets?
A: Pets are generally not allowed at skilled nursing facilities while most assisted living communities, including Benchmark’s, recognize that pets are family too. Many of our assisted living communities welcome pets, usually with weight restrictions.

Q: Are visiting hours restricted in an assisted living community?
A: Family members generally can visit their loved ones at any time*.  At Benchmark assisted living communities, we focus on helping our residents stay connected to the people, passions and things that matter most, so we actively embrace our residents’ families. Not only do we encourage visits, but we also welcome family and friends for meals, participation in programs and feature private kitchens and dining rooms in our communities so that our residents have spaces to spend time with their extended family and enjoy special occasions together.
Skilled nursing facilities may sometimes have visiting hours that family members must adhere to.

*Some services may be subject to additional fees and amenities and services may vary by community. Please consult a specific location for additional information.