Nursing homes are important because they provide a higher level of supervision, personal care and medical services compared to standard assisted living facility. Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, are ideal for people who need 24/7 access to health care due to injury, surgery, disability or cognitive decline. On the other hand, assisted living is for seniors who are generally active and at least somewhat independent. Reviewing the differences between these services can help you decide if nursing home placement is right for your loved one.

Who Are Nursing Homes For?

If you’re unsure whether you or someone else needs nursing home care, look for several indicators, such as frequent falls. Seniors who fall regularly are at risk of injury and may not be able to safely continue living in their homes. Likewise, seniors who struggle with feeding themselves, using the bathroom unassisted or transferring to and from bed independently are ideal candidates for nursing home placement.

Nursing homes can be the best option for seniors with complex or progressive health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other types of cognitive diseases. When an individual requires around-the-clock medical attention and can no longer manage their condition by themselves or with help of a family caregiver, it may be a good time to consider the move to nursing home care.

Assisted Living Versus Nursing Homes

Assisted living provides basic medical services, medication monitoring and 24-hour access to emergency care and therapies, including physical, speech and occupational therapy. In assisted living, caregivers may be trained in first aid and basic health care procedures but are usually unable to provide advanced medical services and skilled nursing.

Nursing homes typically have registered nurses, certified nurse assistants, therapists and other types of health care professionals on-site 24/7. Nursing home residents receive preventative and palliative care, prescription medication administration and specialized therapies. Staff is equipped to handle medical equipment, such as IV drips, ventilators and catheters. These facilities also include safety features, such as alarmed doorways and grab bars to help prevent falls.