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What is the difference between nursing homes and assisted living?

You’ll find many different types of community offerings when comparing senior living options, and while there’s no universal answer for your aging loved one, it’s helpful to learn about the variety of choices and what each has to offer. The more you understand the differences between the types of senior care, the easier it will be to determine what best fits the unique needs of your loved one and your family.

Silver Creek is here to help families in the St. Augustine area navigate the journey of senior care. If you’ve decided to take a closer look at assisted living communities and/or nursing home options, you can find information about the differences between the two, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each, below.

What is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes are a category of residential care for seniors who require 24-hour medical supervision and/or need assistance for most or all of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Generally thought of as one step below hospital acute care, nursing homes provide around-the-clock care by trained medical staff, such as a registered nurse or therapist. Residents of nursing home communities typically have high care needs due to physical or mental conditions that require routine skilled nursing services. Life-enriching activities are usually provided, along with meals for various dietary needs.


  • 24-hour medical assistance
  • Provides more daily interaction and amenities than at-home care


  • Typically not as much privacy as other types of care
  • Differences in quality of skilled nursing care can vary widely

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living describes a type of residential community for seniors providing living quarters, support services and health care designed for those who need some level of support with their day-to-day routines. Usually, these services include a combination of meals, laundry, housekeeping, medication management and assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting and mobility as needed. Seniors in assisted living communities generally have a private apartment residence on campus with community spaces for dining and activities.


  • Residents live in individual apartments, choosing how to spend their time and participating independently in activities and programming.
  • Provides consistent care and support with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, medication, transportation and meal preparation.


  • May be opposed by seniors who are attached to staying in their own house.
  • Can vary in quality, services and costs.

Overall, the main difference between nursing home care and assisted living is that nursing homes provide medical and personal care in a more clinical setting, while assisted living primarily provides personal care in a home-like setting with social, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits.

Finding the right option that meets your loved one’s needs is an important part of keeping them healthy, engaged and fulfilled. At Silver Creek, our three levels of care provide a highly specialized setting that’s tailored to the needs of each resident. Whether in our independent concierge living, assisted living or memory care neighborhood, each resident will get the care and experience that’s right for them. Contact us to learn more.