When Should You Move From Assisted Living to a Nursing Home?

Author: Alicia Centeno

Reviewed By: Brindusa Vanta

You should move from assisted living to a nursing home when you require a higher level of care than the assisted living community can provide. Depending on their individualized care plan, assisted living residents may receive assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming and taking medications, while nursing homes provide more extensive medical care and 24-hour supervision for seniors with serious health conditions. Explore the differences between these two care types so you can make the right decision for your needs. 

Assisted living

Assisted living communities support seniors in a long-term residential setting. While staff can assist residents as needed, these communities primarily serve independent older adults who don’t require around-the-clock care. Seniors who reside in these communities generally require help with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs), including bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, toileting and taking medications.

Within these communities, seniors often get to choose from spacious private and semi-private apartments, some of which have kitchenettes so seniors can prepare their own meals if they prefer to eat alone. Older adults can enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle, with chores, such as housekeeping and laundry services, maintenance and meal preparation taken care of by staff. These facilities typically have engaging schedules filled with activities and events, including exercise classes, games, social functions and arts and crafts. 

Nursing homes

Nursing homes provide skilled nursing services, along with round-the-clock care and medical supervision. These communities offer the highest level of support available outside of a hospital. As a result, nursing homes have less of a community feel and more of an institutional one. While most of their care focuses on their medical needs, seniors can still receive help with ADLs.

The staff comprises licensed nurses and highly trained caregivers who attend to residents 24/7. Due to the extensive care and medical resources available on-site, nursing homes can support seniors recovering from surgery, illness or injury. Nursing homes may be an excellent long-term option for seniors with chronic health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, incontinence and dementia, as well as bedridden or wheelchair-bound individuals.