Assisted Living vs Skilled Nursing: What’s the Difference?

Nurse and patient receiving care

When looking at care options for older adults, there is often confusion between assisted living and skilled nursing. Both provide medical care to older adults who are not able to live independently, but the two options are not the same. What sets them apart? The key difference between the two is in the level, and frequency, of care provided. In an assisted living situation, an older adult may receive daily help with activities, hygiene and more. Skilled nursing, on the other hand, involves providing around-the-clock care.

Unsure which option is needed for your loved one, and looking to find the right fit? Here’s what you need to know about assisted living vs skilled nursing.

Assisted Living

When residing in an assisted living community, an older adult can receive support while still maintaining some level of independence. Despite this independence, they (and their loved ones) can rest assured that staff is always on-call if they are needed.

Daily assistance might include help with getting dressed, brushing teeth, taking medication, cleaning and preparing meals. Assisted living is an appropriate choice for those who don’t require nursing care but would benefit from supportive staff.

Who qualifies for an assisted living facility? Each state sets its own assisted living guidelines that an older adult must meet before qualifying for this type of care. The individual case must also be approved by a physician. In addition, many assisted living communities have a minimum age requirement. Unlike skilled nursing, moving to an assisted living community is almost always a long-term commitment rather than a short-term stay.

Skilled Nursing

In skilled nursing, an individual receives constant care from skilled professionals. Day or night, a doctor or nurse practitioner is always on call. While receiving this care, each patient receives a specialized treatment plan that has been developed by a physician or nurse.

Skilled nursing may also include additional, specialized medical care such as rehabilitation, speech therapy, physical therapy, reconstructive nursing and memory care. Unlike assisted living, time spent in skilled nursing may vary. An older adult may need a short-term rehabilitative stay after an injury or long-term nursing care with memory support services. It is highly personalized to the needs of the individual patient.

Choosing the Right Option: Assisted Living vs Skilled Nursing

Which of these two options is the right fit for your loved one? It’s all about the care he or she needs right now. The correct treatment plan is not necessarily linear, or exclusively one or the other. For example, an older adult may spend a short-term stay in skilled nursing care after a fall, stroke or surgery and then transition to assisted living once they have been rehabilitated. Or, an individual could spend many years living more independently in assisted living before eventually transitioning to skilled nursing care (due to something like advanced dementia).

Talk to your loved one’s doctor about your options to determine which is the right fit. In addition, take time to find the right medical care provider, skilled nursing provider or assisted living facility for your loved one. Facilities and providers are not all one-size-fits-all, and you want to find a care setting where your loved one will not just live but thrive.

Find the Care You Need at Advent Christian Village

Whether in need of in-home assistance, an assisted living option or 24-hour skilled nursing care, your loved one will be well cared for at Advent Christian Village. We’ve designed our senior living community medical services to ensure each member’s well-being, optimal health and independence. Our continuing care community offers a variety of senior living medical services on one convenient campus. We’re also equipped to provide the support each resident needs when transitioning from one level of care to another. Call or click today to schedule a tour – we’d love to hear from you.

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