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Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

What’s the difference between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing? 

On the surface, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing may seem similar. However, there are some distinct differences in levels of care each provide, as well as the payment options and community environment. Below please see an outline of each, so you can choose the best option for you or a loved one. 

Assisted Living (ALF)

If a person still has good mobility and is transitioning from an independent living setting, Assisted Living may be the most appropriate next step to help simplify household management and be in a community of peers.

Most Assisted Living facilities also offer different levels of care and have caregivers on staff to offer help with daily living activities. However assisted living facilities typically are not staffed to provide 24/7 care.

While Assisted Living facilities may accept payment from long term care insurance policies, you will need to explore which payor sources are accepted as most only accept private payment.

  • Does not require 24/7 nursing care
  • Can walk and stand independently
  • May need assistance with daily living activities
  • Utilities, meals and activities included
  • Some covered by Medicaid but most communities are private pay only

Skilled Nursing (SNF)

Skilled nursing care would be most appropriate following a hospitalization or a decline in health that requires 24/7 nursing assistance.

Offering physical, speech and occupational therapy services, a skilled nursing facility offers a more intensive option to help someone regain mobility or recovery after a significant health event while also offering a community setting to be with others who share a similar phase of life.

Skilled nursing services also can be paid for through most insurance providers, as well as through Medicare and Medicaid sources or private payment.

  • Requires 24/7 nursing care
  • Needs assistance walking and standing
  • Needs physical rehabilitation services
  • More complex medical needs
  • Most facilities accept insurance, Medicare and Medicaid