Comparing Retirement Community Options: Assisted Living vs. Health Care

If you or your loved one could benefit from additional support or assistance with daily tasks, a retirement community could be your next best decision. However, it can be difficult to determine what living option – assisted living or health care – is the right choice for your health needs and for your budget. Here’s what you need to know about each retirement community living option and tips for making a decision.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living communities are for adults who need, or want, assistance or support with daily tasks. Caregivers are available around the clock to provide physical or verbal assistance or medication management. Residents live in apartments and are encouraged to be as independent as possible, but have access to caregiver support as needed.

Assisted living communities are vibrant and busy places. Residents enjoy meals together in an onsite dining room, as well as a carefully planned event calendar packed with programs and other opportunities that residents can choose to participate in. Amenities available onsite can include beauty salons,  social spaces, fitness centers, libraries and outdoor walking trails.

What is health care?

Sometimes referred to as a skilled nursing facility (and formerly referred to as a nursing home), a health care community provides skilled nursing care for residents 24 hours per day. Nurses and caregivers are there to provide assistance around the clock with activities of daily living, medication, pain management and other complex medical tasks.

Health care communities typically offer rooms to residents, instead of full apartments, but residents have access to living rooms, recreation rooms and outdoor spaces within their community. Similar to assisted living, health care residents enjoy three meals a day that suit their dietary needs, as well as programs and events to participate in throughout the day.

What are the differences between assisted living and health care?

While both assisted living and health care communities offer caregiver assistance, the biggest differentiator is the type of nursing care provided. A health care community offers more complex care, called skilled nursing care. Skilled nursing care includes services that can only be performed by a licensed clinician, and can include tasks like wound care, IV therapy and disease management. Skilled nursing care also includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

Health care communities provide skilled nursing care services, including onsite intensive therapy, for residents who are there short term or long term. Short-term residents typically arrive after a hospital stay and recover from a procedure or illness before returning home. Long-term residents require complex care and they can receive that by living in a health care community.

What retirement community living option is best for me?

If you wonder which retirement community living option might be best for you or your loved one, begin by speaking with your physician. Then, contact the team at The Glen to schedule a tour of our assisted living and health care communities. Because we are a Life Plan Community, we have all living options right on our campus and we can help guide you to your next best decision.

Contact Us