The Elite Collection

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes?

As you begin to explore senior living options for a family member, finding the right level of care to match their needs is an essential part of the process. It’s important to understand when it might make sense to move a loved one to an Assisted Living community or a  nursing home, and what to expect from these different levels of care. 

Your loved one may experience a gradual decline in their ability to perform daily tasks, or they could have a sudden change in their health or mobility that makes it difficult to live independently. Planning ahead can help ease the transition to Assisted Living or a nursing home. Starting your search now allows you time to ask questions and make rational decisions based on what matters most, rather than emotional decisions in response to a crisis. 

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home Care

What is Assisted Living? Assisted Living communities provide help and support with activities of daily living, with a customized plan of care that evolves as their needs change. Residents can request help as needed while still managing aspects of their life independently. They have the flexibility to set their own schedule and the freedom to spend time doing what they want. 

What is a nursing home? Nursing homes are long-term residences that focus on medical care for older adults with chronic conditions, injuries or a decline in health that requires round-the-clock care.

Both of these long-term care options provide a range of medical and personal care, but they offer very different day-to-day experiences for older adults.

Here are some key differences to understand when choosing the right level of care for your loved one:

Level of Care Provided

Assisted Living residents have access to care 24/7 at the push of a button, including assistance with medication management, bathing, dressing, grooming and other daily tasks. Highly trained staff members are available to provide help when needed, with licensed nursing staff on-site or on call in case of emergency.

Nursing home care is intended for older adults who need extensive help with activities of daily living and general care such as mobility assistance, wound management, IV management, catheter care, administration of oxygen and monitoring of health conditions. Nursing homes are staffed by nurses, nurses’ aides, social workers and dietitians. 

Residential Options

Assisted Living communities are designed to provide a comfortable, homelike setting for residents, with personal care provided in your apartment. The best Assisted Living communities, like The Élite Collection communities, offer spacious apartments that feel like a luxury vacation in an upscale hotel. Residents are free to decorate and add their own personal touches to make the space their own.

With medical equipment in view and hospital-like rooms, nursing homes tend to feel more clinical and less personal. Residents may be assigned a private or semiprivate room with a nurses station nearby. 

Amenities and Services Offered

Assisted Living residents enjoy full access to the amenities and services within a community setting, such as restaurant-style dining, salon and spa services, wellness programs, lifelong learning classes, and a full calendar of enriching activities. 

Most nursing homes provide amenities such as dining services, housekeeping, laundry, a community lounge and other common areas. In addition, group activities and special events may also be provided.

Opportunities to Thrive

Assisted Living communities have a built-in social network that provides a sense of belonging and enhances quality of life for older adults. Residents also benefit from innovative programs that improve wellness on many levels — physical, cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual.

Since nursing homes are focused on meeting the individual needs of residents who need complex care, there may be less emphasis on providing opportunities to engage, interact, learn and grow.  


The monthly rental fee for Assisted Living typically covers meals, housekeeping services, laundry, amenities and activities, and a spacious apartment. Costs may vary based on the level of assistance required. 

Nursing home costs vary based on the level of care required and medical complexity. The cost of nursing home care can be more than double the cost of assisted living, according to data from AHCA/NCAL.

Finding the Right Level of Care

Assisted Living is a good choice for someone who wants extra help with daily living and the security of 24/7 access to care within their own apartment. Understanding your loved one’s abilities and personal preferences can help you find an Assisted Living community with the right level of support. The Élite Collection communities provide the perfect combination of refined luxury and personal care for an unparalleled experience in senior living. We invite you to learn more about our Assisted Living residences and request more information about our exceptional communities.

March 6, 2023


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