Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home: Which is Right for You or Your Loved One?

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home: Using Long-Term Care Insurance

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living offers a semi-independent lifestyle for older adults who need some assistance with daily activities but do not require intensive medical or nursing care. It typically includes:

  • Help with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and medication management.
  • Social activities, meals, and housekeeping.
  • Some health services and emergency care.

Example: Mrs. Smith, 80, moves into an assisted living facility where she receives help with medications and meals but still enjoys her independence, participating in community activities.

What is a Nursing Home?

Nursing Homes provide more comprehensive care for those with serious medical conditions who need constant nursing care. They offer:

  • 24-hour medical supervision and assistance.
  • Rehabilitation services like physical therapy.
  • Specialized care for conditions like dementia.

Example: Mr. Jones, 85, with advanced Parkinson’s disease, resides in a nursing home where he receives around-the-clock nursing care and physical therapy.

Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home

Using Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is designed to cover costs of long-term care services, including assisted living and nursing homes. Coverage varies depending on the policy. Generally:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Most policies require the inability to perform a certain number of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, or eating.
  2. Understand the Benefits: Know your daily benefit amount, coverage period, and whether your policy includes inflation protection.
  3. Process of Claiming: Submit a claim with proof of care needs, usually including a care plan and evidence of ADL limitations.
  4. Choosing a Facility: Ensure the facility meets the policy’s criteria. Some policies might only cover licensed facilities or those with specific accreditation.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home

FeatureAssisted LivingNursing Home
Level of CareModerateIntensive
Medical ServicesLimitedComprehensive
Personal Care AssistanceYesYes
Social ActivitiesManyLimited
Assisted Living Versus Nursing Home


Choosing between assisted living and a nursing home depends on the individual’s health needs and preferences. Long-term care insurance can significantly alleviate the financial burden of both options. Understand your policy’s specifics to make the best use of its benefits.

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Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Home Long-Term Care

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest level of care in assisted living?

Assisted living residents who frequently require hands-on assistance for multiple activities of daily living (ADLs) require the highest level of care. This level of care is more intensive and often requires more than one caregiver to assist a single person.

What services do most assisted living facilities provide?

We offer assistance with healthcare management, monitoring, and daily living activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. We also provide housekeeping and laundry services, medication reminders and help, recreational activities, security, and transportation.

What do you call someone who lives in assisted living?

A resident lives in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living community.

What is a patient for whom an assisted living facility might be a good option?

Assisted living could be suitable if you need help with daily activities such as dressing and bathing but do not require full-time medical care.

Who makes the most money in a nursing home?

Although the leadership structure of every nursing home is different, the director or chief executive of nursing is typically responsible for all activities within the facility. In most situations, the director of nursing is the highest-paid role in nursing homes.

What is the difference between an assisted living and a nursing home?

The main difference between assisted living and nursing homes lies in the level of care provided. Assisted living facilities offer a more independent lifestyle with assistance and support services, while nursing homes provide round-the-clock skilled nursing care for individuals with more complex medical needs. The choice between the two depends on an individual’s specific needs and preferences.

What is a nursing home community?

A nursing home community is a residential facility that provides 24-hour care for elderly individuals who require assistance with daily activities and medical needs. These communities offer a range of services, including meal preparation, medication management, and social activities, to ensure the well-being and comfort of their residents.

How to choose a nursing home or assisted living?

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide different levels of care for elderly individuals. While nursing homes offer 24/7 medical supervision and skilled nursing care, assisted living facilities provide assistance with daily activities. The choice between a nursing home or assisted living depends on the individual’s health needs and level of independence.

What are independent senior living costs?

Independent senior living costs can vary depending on factors such as location, amenities, and level of care required. On average, monthly costs range from $2,000 to $5,000. Services like meals, housekeeping, transportation, and social activities are typically included. It’s important to research different communities to find the best fit for budget and lifestyle.

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Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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