Assisted Living and the Differences in Senior Housing Options

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between residential facilities, assisted living, and nursing homes. People often use these terms interchangeably, but they actually refer to three very different types of care.

At Morningside House Senior Living, we believe every person deserves individualized care developed around their needs. If you or a loved one are in need of long-term care, be sure to do your research and understand the different types that are available before making a decision. The key differences between these three types of senior housing vary with services and options to accommodate patients and residents.

Residential Facilities

Residential or independent living facilities are a great option for people who want to live independently but may need some assistance with activities of daily living. Often a private-pay form of senior housing with a smaller number of residents, they provide non-institutional support services and typically do not provide 24-hour skilled nursing care. At residential facilities, it’s all about choices and the assurance of the freedom to maintain a vibrant, active lifestyle.

By offering services such as housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and meals, residential facilities give residents the support they need to continue to live independently. There is usually a robust, social calendar and recreational activities to discover new experiences and enjoy hobbies. Building new friendships is easy in comfortable, shared spaces like a library, game room, and restaurant-style dining room.

Most residential/independent living facilities have private units for residents, such as apartments or suites. This allows residents to maintain the privacy of their own apartment, while still receiving the benefits of community-style living.

  • Independent Living Spaces Include:
  • Wellness programs and exercise rooms
  • Beautiful dining halls with professionally trained chefs and nutritionists
  • House cleaning and linen services
  • Apartment maintenance
  • Social programs & clubs
  • Chapel services
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a type of long-term care that provides personal care and support services to people who need help with activities of daily living. Nurses and certified nursing assistants are onsite to oversee residents’ care, providing 24-hour skilled nursing care. They offer a higher level of care than residential and do complete, comprehensive assessments tailored to each resident. Some deliver medical support for occupational and speech therapy, and arrange visits with health care professionals such as podiatrists or geriatricians.

Assisted living facilities offer residents quality care and resort-style services and amenities, tailored to the resident’s needs and interests. They live in their own apartments and share common areas for dining, social, and recreational activities. These communities offer transportation services for appointments, provide all meals, housekeeping, and security. They usually have an activities director on staff to plan for exercise classes, field trips and many other fun, social activities. There is an emphasis on healthy living, nutritious meals, and spending time with loved ones.

  • Assisted Living Spaces Include:
  • 24 Hour skilled nursing staff
  • Medication management
  • Personal care support, like bath transfer and grooming
  • Social and educational program
  •  Wellness checks
  • Reminder services for meals, activities, and appointments
  • Restaurant-style dining
  • House cleaning and linen services
  • Apartment maintenance

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are long-term care facilities that offer a wide range of comprehensive medical and nursing care to people who are unable to live independently. Some residents might need short-term rehab to help with recovery after surgery. Others live permanently long-term because of ongoing physical and mental conditions that require extended medical care. Nursing homes typically provide 24-hour skilled nursing care, memory care, and rehabilitation therapies.

Modern nursing homes are setting a new standard for continuum of care, providing residents with both the health and lifestyle support needs that come with aging. Residents are treated with respect and dignity, and living spaces are in a homelike, rather than hospital environment. When choosing a long-term care facility, it’s important to consider the type of care that your loved one needs, as well as your budget. Be sure to tour several different facilities and ask lots of questions before making a decision.

It’s also important to understand the different types of facilities that are available. Long-term care facilities provide a range of services, from basic custodial care to skilled nursing care.

  • Custodial care facilities provide basic assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. These facilities are also sometimes referred to as “residential care homes” or “adult foster care homes.
  • Skilled nursing care facilities provide around-the-clock medical care and supervision for residents who need constant nursing care and attention. These facilities are sometimes called “nursing homes.”

Both types of nursing home/long-term care facilities can be either for-profit or nonprofit. For-profit facilities are owned by individuals or companies that aim to make a profit from the services they provide. Nonprofit facilities are typically owned and operated by religious organizations, charitable foundations, or government entities. Some nursing homes also allow for both private pay and Medicaid supported residents.

Senior Housing Options

As you can see, there are some key differences between these three types of senior housing that you should be aware of before making a decision. Residential facilities offer basic assistance with activities of daily living, while assisted living facilities provide more comprehensive care. Nursing homes are the most comprehensive type of senior housing, providing around-the-clock skilled nursing care.

If you or someone you know is interested in an independent living facility, contact our senior living advisors to learn more about your options.

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