Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing?

nurse showing paper to older couple

Dear Jane,

Since my father’s recent passing, my mother is no longer able to live alone. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about a year ago. Although she takes medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, she’s otherwise in good health.

This winter, she did catch the flu that was going around Central Ohio and had to be admitted to the hospital for a few days, but she’s feeling much better now.

She’s temporarily living with my husband and I, but we both work, and it’s not safe to leave her alone during the day.

What is the best choice for my mother?



Is Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing the Best Choice?

Dear Laura,

Thank you for addressing this confusing issue. Many adult children face a similar dilemma with a parent who is no longer able to live alone.

Although skilled nursing care is an option, your mother may find she is better suited for assisted living, because she is otherwise healthy.

Assisted living and skilled nursing both provide medication management and assistance with daily activities. An assisted living community will remind your mother to take her medication, whereas she’ll be handed medication at a skilled nursing community. If your mother needs minimal care dressing or bathing, she’ll receive that help in assisted living, but if she isn’t mobile, she should be in skilled nursing.

Both provide meals, laundry and housekeeping services, as well as supervision for safety reasons. Although both offer recreational activities, such as live entertainment and crafts, residents of assisted living communities may use non-medical transportation to take group trips or shop.

Assisted living residences are most commonly full apartments with private baths and kitchens while skilled nursing residents have rooms with bathrooms, but usually do not have kitchens or full baths for safety reasons.


The question of which is the best choice for your mother must be decided by her health-care team. However, in general, if your mother needs a limited amount of personal care, is ambulatory, and gets along well with most people, she’s likely to do well in assisted living.

If she needs extensive assistance or is frequently incontinent, needs a wheelchair, has severe cognitive impairments and is combative, she would be safer in skilled nursing.

Here at Whetstone Rehabilitation Center, Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living, we offer both assisted living with memory care and skilled nursing. Because we provide both and must meet strict state standards, we offer more extensive help in assisted living than many other communities. In assisted living, our registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and state-tested nursing assistants provide care with dignity in a home-like setting.

I hope this has answered some of your questions. I wish you and your mother the very best.

Jane Holt, RN