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What Is the Difference Between a Nursing Home and Assisted Living?

It can be difficult to know which type of care you or your loved one needs as you age.

It can be difficult to know which type of care you or your loved one needs as you age. Knowing when to ask for additional help is the first step, and the next step is figuring out how much help is needed. This can be determined by examining your medical needs as well as your ability to keep up with the responsibilities of living alone. If one or both have become unmanageable, it may be time to look into different living arrangements.

Knowing the differences between a nursing home and an assisted living community can help to guide you to the best choice for you or your loved one. Here are a few of the biggest differences between the two living options and some of the things you can expect when you join a community like the Mission at Agua Fria.

Living Arrangements

The living arrangements differ widely between a nursing home and an assisted living community. Seniors living in an assisted living community can enjoy apartment-style living in a social environment. This is an option for people who do need occasional assistance but can still maintain a sense of independence. Assistance options include help with tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, or using the restroom.

Nursing homes, on the other hand, have living arrangements that are tailored more to the medical care required. Often, they share a room with another resident, have fewer amenities, and have less overall space.

Style of Care

The level of care is another big difference between assisted living and nursing homes. Nursing homes put an emphasis on medical care, as their residents are often more dependent on medications and nursing staff. The care offered at these communities is often more constant than you’ll find at an assisted living community, as this is typically the next step away from being at a hospital. Similar to hospitals, nursing homes have advanced medical equipment to deal with the complex medical needs of their patients and the often unpredictable medical situations they encounter.

Unlike nursing homes, the level and style of care offered at an assisted living community such as the Mission at Agua Fria are specific to each resident. With an emphasis on maintaining as much independence as possible, residents at assisted living communities have more of a say when it comes to how much care they require on a day-to-day basis. Some of the ways these residents are cared for typically include medication management assistance, routine checkups, 24-hour nursing staff availability, as well as assistance with daily chores.


Amenities and services differ greatly between a nursing home and assisted living community. While nursing homes are more centered on your medical care, assisted living communities have residents who are more likely and able to participate in things like social events or to take advantage of community features. At assisted living communities like the Mission at Agua Fria, there are more social options to choose from within the community, such as recreational programs and excursions. There are also community features like theaters, gyms, lounges, computer centers, a beauty salon, and more that are open to residents to use at their will.