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Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home:
What’s the Right Choice for Mom and Dad?

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home What’s The Right Choice For Mom And Dad

It is a life-changing experience if the time comes when your mom or dad stops living at home and transitions into a senior living facility. It is a complex decision with many practical details to consider. We tend to categorize senior housing into two broad groups: assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Let us take a close look at the differences between these two types of facilities so you can help your parent make an informed decision that best suits their particular care needs and desires for this next stage of life.

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home What’s The Right Choice For Mom And Dad

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a great housing choice for mom and dad who are no longer capable of living alone but want to maintain a social, active lifestyle. Considering the high satisfaction rate among the residents, it is safe to say that assisted living is not what your aging loved one is picturing when they say they do not want to move into “a home.”

An assisted living community is a good choice for mom or dad if he or she needs additional support with activities of daily living or ADLs and is looking for somewhere to live long-term. These may include dressing, showering, other grooming, or toileting. Assisted living communities also provide socialization opportunities and an event calendar with many activities.

Some assisted living communities also offer memory care services for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. In fact, there are specialized assisted living communities that exclusively serve seniors with memory care.

At most assisted living communities, a licensed nurse completes a comprehensive individualized assessment for each resident, and nursing staff are on-site or accessible 24 hours a day. Geriatricians and other healthcare professionals, such as dentists or chiropractors, will often see residents on-site, and some assisted living communities have started to offer physical or occupational therapy while others run wellness rooms supervised by licensed nurses.

In general, as residents of assisted living facilities, one would live in a private living space like an apartment or condo, and have a private bathroom and kitchen. Couples are able to live together. Almost all of them provide rides to bring you where you need to go like the doctor or the store. Seniors will also enjoy a high level of socialization, with organized trips to museums, movies, and more.

Someone living in an assisted living community can, for the most part, still take care of themselves on a day-to-day basis. The staff is only there to help if the person needs it. Six of the most frequently expressed needs by people who choose assisted living are as follows:

  • daily living (bathing, dressing, eating)
  • mental health (depression or isolation)
  • medication management
  • social support
  • financial management (remembering to pay bills)
  • household chores (laundry, housekeeping)

Because of this, assisted living can be less disruptive to your parent’s “normal” routine and can offer some sense of community. It can provide an experience that might be a little more like the life your mom or dad may have already been living.

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What Is A Nursing Home?

A nursing home provides the highest level of care possible outside of a hospital. In fact, many seniors move to a nursing home following a hospital stay. Nursing homes deliver 24-hour care to seniors who have complex medical conditions and need a high level of hands-on assistance and monitoring.

Many residents of nursing homes are not planning on a long-term stay. Some families choose to transition to a nursing home after a serious infection, or when a senior is continually in and out of the hospital. Nursing home offers medical support for residents who need to get better before they can return to their home or move to an assisted living community.

A nursing home is the right choice for someone whose medical needs require full-time nursing care or access to services and facilities that are more like the hospital than home. Some nursing homes also deliver hospice services, providing palliative care to seniors who are nearing the end of their senior living journey.

However, if a senior’s needs are more minimal — such as assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, dressing, or toileting, or if a senior needs simple care such as physical therapy and medication management — a nursing home may be too restrictive, and needlessly add costs.

Nursing homes offer:

  • ongoing palliative and preventative long-term care.
  • assistance with laundry, housekeeping, and activities of daily living.
  • prescription medication management and administration, including injections.
  • specialized rehabilitative services, such as speech, occupational, physical, respiratory, cognitive, and vocational therapy.
  • emergency and routine dental services in all state-funded nursing homes.
  • meal options that must meet the daily nutritional requirements and the unique dietary needs of each resident.

A nursing home may fit the needs of elderly loved ones who:

  • need constant care due to chronic conditions or deteriorating health.
  • can no longer feed themselves independently.
  • have experienced an injury and need significant rehabilitation.
  • prefer amenities like nutritious meals and on-site services like salons, religious services, and dental appointments.
  • desire more daily interaction than in-home nursing care would provide.
  • have progressive conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

What Are The Differences?

Medical Care Assisted Living Nursing Home
Goal Provide independence, while
assisting with daily tasks.
Rehabilitation followed
by return to independent
living or assisted living.
Offer medication
management but may
charge an additional fee.
Nursing homes
administer medication to
residents daily.
Limited assistance is
available. Residents are
expected to be fairly
mobile, including
walking, getting in and
out of bed, and getting up
and down from chairs.
Residents have more
access to assistance.
Nursing homes are a
better choice for
seniors, or seniors with
chronic injuries.
Access to Doctors Residents are often able
to keep their own doctors
and travel to
Residents generally use
in-house or visiting
medical staff.
Lifestyle Assisted Living Nursing Home
Residents are able to bring
in their own furniture and
decorate to be as homely as possible.
With higher level of monitoring and medical care, the rooms look more like hospital rooms.
Privacy Residents have their own private rooms. Residents live in more hospital-like conditions, with little privacy.
Number of Residents The average is 50 residents. On average 100 residents
Household Chores Cleaning and laundry are included. Cleaning and laundry are included.
Pets Many facilities allow pets. Nursing homes do not allow pets.
Ability to Cook Kitchens are available for seniors to prepare meals All meals are prepared by kitchen staff
Visiting Visitors to come and go as they please. Requires visitors to sign in and follow visiting hours.
Duration of Stay Long term Short term
Financial Assisted Living Nursing Home
Cost The average cost in Singapore
in 2019 was $3,000 per
month. There is no available subsidy at the moment.
The average cost in Singapore
in 2019 was $3,600 per month before subsidy.

The care decisions you make will affect your loved one for the rest of their life. They can improve an entire family’s quality of life and restore a sense of balance and peace to your relationship. The move to residential care is never a one-size-fits-all decision. Instead, it is important to review your loved one’s needs, spend time touring each community, and ask many questions. When you find a community that meets your loved one’s needs and feels welcoming and comfortable, act quickly, because many communities have long waiting lists. Your loved one deserves a retirement of peace and support, no matter how their health shifts in the coming years.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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