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Know the Difference Between Home Care, Assisted Living, and a Nursing Home

Elderly man and woman speaking at an assisted living community

If you’ve noticed your loved one struggling with routine tasks, suffering from memory loss, or experiencing behavioral changes, it may be time to reconsider their current living situation. Choosing between home care, assisted living, or a nursing home can be an emotional and complicated decision. However, once you’ve assessed their needs and learned the difference between the three, the choice may be easier to make.

Comparing Home Care, Assisted Living, and Nursing Home Care

Questions to ask Yourself

There are several questions you can ask yourself to assist in making a more informed decision.

  1. What are the wishes of your loved one?
  2. Do they live alone?
  3. Is there a way to improve the safety of the home?
  4. Is there someone who could move in with them?
  5. Is there someone they could move in with?
  6. Could care or supportive services be brought in to keep them safe, well-fed, and healthy?
  7. Would they benefit from having regular meals prepared for them?
  8. Do they need medical care?
  9. Do they need medication reminders?
  10. Have they visited any communities that could be options?

Home Care

Many become attached to their homes and would experience a significant change in their mood and behavior if they were forced to leave. Home care is a wonderful option for seniors who are mostly independent but could use a little extra help. In-home assisted living provides that extra help.

With home care, your loved one stays at home and the professionals go to them. How long they stay and how they help depends on the specific needs of the person. The aid will assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), including hygiene assistance, meal prep, medication reminders, companionship, transportation to appointments, and more.

If you decide your loved one needs in-home care, there is still more to evaluate, as the type of in-home care can vary. The options typically fall into four categories:

  • Licensed medical professional care
  • Non-medical paraprofessional care
  • Dementia home care
  • Alzheimer’s home care


If medical attention like shots or therapy is required, a licensed medical professional will be necessary. These professionals include physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and home health aides under the direction of a physician.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is ideal for those who want to be independent but need assistance with some daily activities and to have their safety monitored. Residents have privacy and autonomy in an environment that focuses on community and family.  Many assisted living homes feature apartment-style living and coordinate daily activities, both on and off site. Residents can cook in their apartment or eat their meals at on-site dining areas.

Many communities allow residents to come and go from the facility as they please, see visitors, have pets, and manage their own finances. Residents typically receive help with any ADLs they have difficulty with. Health services, housekeeping, laundry services, social and religious activities, transportation services, 24-hour security, and wellness programs are all amenities that are common at assisted living facilities.

Nursing Homes

Individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves and could be putting themselves in danger by not having assistance should consider moving to a skilled nursing center often referred to as nursing homes. These long term care facilities provide medical and personal care but residents don’t live in their own apartments. Nursing homes typically offer several room layouts, with options including private rooms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, and double rooms with shared bathrooms.

Care at a skilled nursing center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Residents typically live with more complex health care conditions that require the assistance of a skilled nurse or a physical or speech therapist. Some require respiratory care services as well.

Residents staying at nursing homes have access to daily activities happening on-site and receive meal, laundry, and housekeeping services. Friends and family visit during particular hours and permission is required before taking residents off-campus.

Working with Shaker Place Rehabilitation & Nursing Center

Shaker Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center provides comprehensive care to seniors in Albany, NY. Each resident’s quality of life, happiness, dignity, and independence are our top priorities. We understand that the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is an overwhelming one, and we’re here to help every step of the way. We take the time to give you a tour, answer all of your questions, and assist with the application process.

To speak to a Shaker Place specialist today, please call (518) 869-2231.