If you or a family member are struggling to live independently, it might be time to transition to a senior living community. But how do you decide which level of care is appropriate? More specifically, how do you choose between assisted living and skilled nursing?


What Is Assisted Living?

If you find it hard to keep up with household tasks or need help showering and getting dressed, assisted living communities provide an alternative to aging in place. It’s a long-term housing choice for older adults that don’t need intensive medical support but still need assistance. At an assisted living community, the caregivers help with things like:

  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Toileting
  • Showering
  • Getting dressed
  • Personal hygiene
  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Medication management
  • Running errands

Nonetheless, residents are encouraged to live as independently as possible. These communities also host events, outings, etc. to encourage socializing. They give residents the freedom to set their own schedules, picking and choosing which activities to participate in. Most communities offer:

  • Chef-prepared meals and happy hours
  • Assistance with housekeeping and laundry
  • Common areas like crafting rooms & theaters
  • Care management services to help with insurance questions, planning operations, etc.


What Is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing communities or nursing homes provide all the services of an assisted living community, plus 24/7 medical care. Many older adults come to skilled nursing communities after a significant health event like a stroke or heart attack. They are too well to stay in a hospital but still need around-the-clock care to remain stable.

Licensed practical nurses are always on duty and a registered nurse is on duty for at least 8 hours every day. Skilled nursing care can be either short-term or long-term. Short-term stays are generally arranged for post-acute care, following hospitalization, injury, or surgery. Because of this, care is focused on rehabilitation with the goal of returning home. However, for most skilled nursing residents, the community is their permanent home.

Nursing homes provide services such as:

  • Physical, speech, and/or occupational therapy
  • Wound care
  • Advanced stage pressure ulcer care (bed sores)
  • Feeding tubes
  • Intravenous (IV) medications
  • Respiratory therapy or ventilator care
  • End-of-life or hospice care
  • Laboratory, radiology, and pharmaceutical services
  • Supplies, equipment, and other services necessary to the health of the patient


Residents receive meals in a communal dining area unless they are too ill to do so. A calendar of daily programming for residents to enjoy is also provided. Still, activities are brought to the rooms of residents who aren’t physically capable of attending group events.


Even when you know living independently at home is no longer safe, deciding which is right for you or your loved one can be difficult. Generally, if you or a family member require 24/7 nursing care for a chronic medical condition or daily rehabilitation services, then a skilled nursing community is best. If you just need help with daily activities like bathing and cooking, an assisted living community is a more appropriate senior care solution.


Reformed Church Home offers a home-like environment. If you’d like to learn more, call, visit, or explore our website to learn more about the quality of life at our senior living community in Old Bridge, NJ!