What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Home Facilities?

 In Enrichment

The difference between assisted living and nursing homes may seem like a matter of semantics. Don’t the two terms basically mean the same thing? Well… not really. That said, they are 1.) used interchangeably by many folks outside of the healthcare field and 2.) open to slight variation from organization to organization. Despite this, a nursing home is definitely not the same as an assisted living facility, so let’s compare the two.

Do Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes Share Any Common Traits?

They sure do! There’s one major thing that both types of senior care centers should have in common, and that is well-trained care staff. The staff in either facility should be capable of attending to the needs of seniors across a wide range of conditions and levels of independence.

An OESH assisted living home care partner with a clip-on badge congratulating a smiling elder.

Our care staff and elders share a lot of laughs!

So What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes for Seniors?

Care Focus

This is the big one according to Paying For Senior Care. Nursing homes are more medically focused, whereas assisted living provides what it’s name implies: extra support for a senior’s day-to-day.

Real quick: notice we said “care focus” and not “level of care.” That’s because there are often many medical services available to assisted living residents; it’s just not the primary focus. As the PFSC article notes, despite some limitations in medical treatments, “the services and intermittent medical care that are often provided can make assisted living a viable option for more seniors than ever before.” The article follows this up by pointing out the fact that an assisted living facility “maximizes quality of life” and is “often preferred over nursing home care when possible.”

So, the type of care provided is definitely a key difference between assisted living and nursing homes. Barring certain highly prohibitive medical conditions, seniors may get more out of exploring their assisted living community options vs nursing homes. That said, if an elder has a severe illness or limitation that requires round-the-clock care, a nursing home may be a better fit.


We go into greater detail about the value of developing a true community of seniors in our summer activity rundown, and there’s certainly a lot of fun to be had by trying out any of these highly recommended (and totally unique) senior activities. Where nursing homes are focused on preserving health and providing a hospice-style environment, assisted living homes like OESH are geared around enhancing life for residents by offering a reasonable amount of support with access to treatment as needed.

But in our humble opinion, the clear difference between assisted living and nursing home life are the day-to-day smiles you catch walking up and down the halls of an assisted living home. We definitely don’t take it for granted at OESH. From impromptu silly string fights to our famous safety-rope-guided annual slip-n-slide, it’s a pleasure living life alongside our seniors and watching them continue to laugh, grow, and live their best lives.

The OESH Options

If you’re leaning toward more of a community vibe for your senior care after learning a bit about the difference between assisted living and nursing homes, take a look at the different assisted care options at OESH:

Independent Living

Assisted Living


Healthcare Neighborhoods

Each care option offers slightly different features and benefits from the next! This ensures we can provide a great fitting experience for a wide variety of specific needs and individuals Even within our assisted living section alone, you’ll find six different tiers of care available to choose from!

Further Assisted Living vs Nursing Home Questions?

If you have any other questions or concerns about the difference between assisted living and nursing home, please reach out to us! We’d love to chat with you and help in any way we can along your journey to finding great senior care.