Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

What’s the Difference?

When considering their living options, seniors can generally choose to reside in an independent living community, assisted living, memory care or a nursing home. However, people often use the terms “assisted living” and “nursing home” interchangeably, but assisted living communities and nursing homes present two significantly different lifestyles that require different levels of support.

We understand assisting your loved one with choosing a community as their new home can be difficult and emotionally draining. With that being said, it’s important they have access to the appropriate levels of care to help keep them safe and give you, and your family, peace of mind. Even if your loved one isn’t in the best shape to live alone anymore, senior living communities provide the opportunity to have an engaging, active lifestyle while still fulfilling any necessary assistance and medical needs.

Below, we elaborate on the difference between assisted living communities and nursing homes to help you understand the differences and help make the right choice for your loved one.

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living communities are designed to keep their residents healthy and safe while preserving the residents’ independence and privacy.


In assisted living, aides and staff are available around the clock for both routine and spontaneous assistance. Routine assistance includes help with bathing, dressing, eating, taking medication and restroom visits. Aides are also on call 24/7 to answer any emergency calls from the residents. Seniors who require help with daily living, have cognitive impairment or minor debilitating medical problems fit into assisted living environment best.


Residents in assisted living communities live in homes or apartments with their own bathroom and kitchen, they also have the option to personalize with their own décor or furniture. Utilities are included, as well as transportation, routine housekeeping and laundry services. Assisted living generally gives the resident a more independent home life.


Assisted living offers a communal lifestyle so residents can dine with other residents. Assisted living also presents several opportunities to socialize, exercise and be a part of various social, cultural and educational activities. While assisted living staff will generally keep track of when a resident is outside of the community, they are free to come and go as they please.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are for those who require a higher level of medical care and closer monitoring.


Unlike assisted living, residents receive round-the-clock medical attention. Residents in nursing homes generally have more urgent care needs that require routine skilled nursing attention. Some nursing home residents may be bedbound, have advanced cognitive impairment, need a respirator, or have wounds that need daily care.


Residents in nursing homes typically share a room and eat communally, unless they are bedbound. The nursing home should also offer laundry, housekeeping and other utilities. Nursing home rooms are more centered on medical needs and equipment rather than maintaining a more personalized, homey atmosphere.


Although more medical attention is required, nursing homes promote a communal lifestyle and will usually have social, cultural and educational activities available for residents.

Although the two seem similar, the difference between an assisted living community and nursing home lies in the level of care your loved one needs. Once you’ve assessed the level of care your loved one needs, the most difficult part is over.

Summit Pointe is the only established senior living community in Marion, Iowa. We have won numerous awards based on our quality of care including our most prestigious awards which are the Bronze and Silver National Quality Awards.

We offer many levels of care including independent living, assisted living and memory care. We’re also the only Marion senior community that offers transition from independent to assisted living without having to move rooms or buildings.

Our goal is to encourage vibrant, active lifestyles for our community members in an all-inclusive setting. Schedule a tour today and let us help you consider all of your options in order to determine the right level of care for your loved one.