Choosing the right senior care can be a complex and emotional journey, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the options available. If you feel this way, you’re far from alone. 

By 2030, one in four Canadians will be 65 or older, and facing the same decisions you’re making today – whether for yourself or a loved one.

There is a dramatic difference between assisted living and nursing homes (also called long-term care), and knowing the difference will greatly help with making the right choice.

You might also be wondering how this choice will impact daily life, independence, and health.

Let’s look at the primary differences between them.


What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living provides a supportive living environment for seniors who are largely independent but require some assistance with daily activities. 

In assisted living residences, occupants can expect help with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and medication management. These spaces prioritize independence, offering private or semi-private living spaces that include bedrooms, bathrooms, and sometimes kitchen areas.

Assisted living services are designed to promote residents’ freedom, with personalized care plans that ensure they receive the appropriate level of support while maintaining their autonomy as much as possible. 

Often, communal dining areas and host social activities are provided to encourage interaction and community living, aligning with the philosophy that social and physical activities are vital to senior health.


What is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home, also known as a long-term care facility, provides comprehensive healthcare and assistance to seniors who require constant medical supervision and support due to various health conditions. 

These facilities are designed to cater to individuals who need more intensive care than what is provided in assisted living, including 24-hour nursing services. 

Residents of long-term care homes often have significant physical or cognitive health issues that prevent them from living independently. The care provided in these settings includes medical monitoring, rehabilitation services, and assistance with daily activities such as eating, dressing, and moving around. 

Nursing homes are equipped with facilities to handle more complex healthcare needs, such as wound care, intravenous therapy, and rapid response to medical emergencies.

The environment in these care homes is structured to ensure safety and accessibility, with features like handrails, wheelchair-accessible facilities, and emergency call systems in each room. 

While the setting is more clinical than that of assisted living, nursing homes also strive to provide a comfortable atmosphere, offering various activities and programs to enhance the emotional and social well-being of their residents.


Assisted Living vs Nursing Homes: Key Differences

While the actual care and amenities will differ between various facilities, the key differences are largely the same.

Level of Medical Care

The primary distinction between assisted living and nursing homes is the level of medical care provided. Long-term care homes are suitable for individuals who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance. Residents typically have conditions that require the availability of skilled nursing care.

Assisted living, on the other hand, is better suited to individuals who may need some assistance with daily activities but do not require intensive medical and nursing care. It’s a middle ground for those who need more support than they would get at home but less than what is provided in a nursing home.

Living Spaces

Assisted living communities often resemble private apartments, offering a more homelike environment. 

These residences allow personal furnishings and decorations to make the space feel like home, supporting a higher degree of independence.

Long-term care homes provide more clinically structured environments to safely manage the health conditions of residents. The rooms may be private or shared, and the layout is designed to accommodate medical equipment and easy access for nursing staff.

Costs and Coverage

While assisted living does offer care options, it is not funded by the Ontario government.  If you need care and are concerned about the costs, a qualified Levante team member can walk you through the best options for managing these costs effectively.  Often, through examining the costs of living at home, including mortgage, maintenance, home care, food, groceries etc., current residents have found the cost of living in assisted living to be comparable.  When adding on the sense of community, health and wellness programs, activities, healthy meals and socialization, the value of assisted living becomes apparent.    

For those who can no longer live on their own and need 24 hour supervised care, you can apply for Long Term Care (or nursing home) in Ontario.  This option is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and covers most of the costs of living in a long term care facility.  Currently, there are significant waitlists for long term care across Ontario. Once on a waitlist, you could wait several months or longer depending on the availability in your area.  If you need care assistance now, but cannot get into long term care, a great alternative is to check with your local Levante senior living residence to see if they could accommodate your needs with a customized care package while you wait for admission into a long term care residence. 

Lifestyle and Social Opportunities

Assisted living facilities actively promote a community atmosphere with a focus on social and recreational activities. Residents are encouraged to engage in events, classes, and outings that enrich their lives and foster community bonds.

Nursing homes also offer social activities, but the types and frequencies of these activities might be tailored to accommodate the higher care needs of their residents, possibly limiting their ability to participate in more extensive outings.


Choosing the Right Fit

When deciding between assisted living and nursing homes, consider your current and future needs or those of your loved ones. Be sure to research the facilities you’re considering, exploring their levels of care and what you can reasonably expect.

The decision to move to a senior living community may come easily to some but not to others. 

Take some time to understand the various senior living lifestyle options, what financial support is available, and what services are required. 

Every supportive living residence or long-term care home is unique. Decide which area you want to live in, what your budget is, read reviews, narrow down your options, and then visit the facilities. 


Assisted Living vs Nursing Homes: Conclusion

Choosing the right type of care for yourself or a loved one is a big decision. 

They say, “Knowledge is Power”, and the more you understand the differences (and similarities) between assisted living and nursing homes, the better able you are to choose an environment that aligns well with your needs and lifestyle. 

Assisted living offers a balance of independence and care, making it an ideal choice for those who need some support in their daily lives but wish to remain as autonomous as possible. 

On the other hand, long-term care or nursing homes provide comprehensive medical care and living assistance for those with more significant health needs.

If you are considering Assisted Living, we invite you to schedule a tour at one of our residences to see firsthand the warm, supportive community we offer at Levante Living. 

Contact Levante Living about your senior living needs in Canada.

At Levante, we are as passionate about our residents as we are about delivering a level of care that will exceed your expectations.

For more information, please fill out the form and a Levante representative will get back to you as soon as possible to answer all your questions and offer you expert guidance and support.