Two of the most common types of senior living are assisted living communities and nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities. At first glance, these two options may appear to have a lot in common but with differences in payment options, level of care, and amenities offered, the two care options are very different.

Assisted Living Communities
Seniors in assisted living often live in private apartment homes that they can decorate themselves, even bringing furniture and decor from home. Independence is encouraged in assisted living and many communities offer kitchen and laundry facilities for residents to prepare their own meals and handle their own laundry needs while also providing meal services and housekeeping.

Many assisted living communities offer an activity schedule to encourage resident interaction with regular happy hours, meals, and outings. Additionally, residents in assisted living receive assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, and hygiene. Assistance is available to help when needed.

Nursing Homes
Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are more fitting for seniors whose needs have advanced past what an assisted living community could offer. Skilled nursing facilities provide around-the-clock care for residents and expert nursing care. Many skilled nursing facilities offer advanced medical care and resources equivalent to what you would find in a hospital, just in a less institutional and more comfortable environment.

Nursing care can be short-term or long-term. Some residents stay in Skilled nursing care while recovering from a surgery or while receiving rehabilitation services after an injury with the goal of restoring the patient to their lifestyle as quickly and as safely as possible. Other residents that are coping with more long-term illness or debilitating disease require long-term stays.

Some Payment Differences
Medicare can help defray the cost for seniors to pay for skilled nursing care if the care is medically required for at least 3 days, but no more than 100 days if the facility the person chooses is a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility. If you are unable to pay for nursing home services and have minimal assets, you may be eligible to pay for skilled nursing care through Medicaid.

When it comes to assisted living, neither Medicare Parts A or B offer coverage for comprehensive long-term care. Some states may offer some coverage through Medicaid programs but eligibility and coverage differ greatly between states. While payment options do vary in each state, residents in assisted living rely primarily on private pay options since most assisted living communities cannot legally accept public pay. Private pay options for assisted living include using veterans benefits, long-term care insurance, retirement savings, home equity loans, or reverse mortgages.