Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an assisted living facility and a nursing home are the same thing. This is actually a very common and unfortunate misunderstanding, which can send some people in the wrong direction. Generally speaking, the basic difference between assisted living and nursing home care is the level of personal health care required.

Care Needs

At the most fundamental level, an assisted living facility is a residential location for seniors who want and/or need help with some (not all) of their daily activities. Your personal healthcare professional will be able to advise you. Generally, if you’ve reached the point where you require medical care or services around the clock, a nursing home is the safest and wisest choice.

On the other hand, if you need only some assistance with tending to household tasks, managing medications, and getting to and from appointments, it’s probably better to explore your assisted living options.


People in an assisted living scenario enjoy a much greater level of independence than someone in a nursing home. They need some personal care support, but not at the level that is required for those in medical care centers such as nursing homes.

Activity & Interaction

Life in an assisted living facility is going to come with a lot more options for activity and interaction than a nursing home environment would.

Residents of the average nursing home are more limited in their capacities, and will simply be unable to participate in such a diversity of events or activities.


  • Three meals a day
  • Housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • On-site medical and health services
  • Full-time security
  • Assistance with walking, eating, bathing, dressing and using the bathroom, when needed
  • Emergency call features in their living unit
  • Exercise, wellness, social, and recreational activities
  • Medication management
  • Fully-trained staff to help with all scheduled or unscheduled needs


Assisted living facilities have a much broader array of staffing needs than the average nursing home. This might include an activities director, a dining director, and a large number of volunteers as well as the regular administration and medical staff. Most assisted living staff are responsible for helping residents to feel less isolated than they were in their previous living situation.

These professionals will be able to offer the residents support and assistance on a daily basis. Not only have they received training and qualification in their particular area of specialization, but they will have learned how to nurture a sense of community in those around them. This is something that nursing home staff may not be obliged to do simply because they are more “medical” in nature as opposed to residential.