CCRCs vs. Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes: A Comparison

If you’re a senior looking for a new living arrangement, you have several choices available to you. You can consider Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), Assisted Living communities, and Nursing Homes. But knowing what kind of care you can expect from each is important.

Each of these options caters to different needs and levels of care for seniors, and understanding their characteristics can help individuals and families make informed decisions about senior living.

Let’s take a look at CCRCs, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes, and at what they offer, what might be best for each type of senior, and other considerations.  

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are unique in the senior living landscape, offering a continuum of care within a single community. The AARP defines a CCRC as part independent living, part assisted living community, and part skilled nursing care designed to accommodate individuals as they age and their care needs evolve.

Here are more details on key aspects of CCRCs:

Services and communities

Residents in the independent living section typically have private apartments or cottages. They have access to various amenities, including fitness centers, dining options, social activities, and more. CCRCs organize a variety of social activities, clubs, and events to foster a sense of community among independent living residents. This can include exercise classes, educational programs, and social gatherings.

As residents’ needs increase, they can transition to assisted living within the same community. Assisted living provides support with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and medication management. While receiving necessary support, residents in assisted living maintain a level of independence. The aim is to strike a balance between assistance and autonomy.

If residents require skilled nursing care, it is available on-site. This includes 24/7 medical attention and assistance with complex health care needs. In addition to nursing care, CCRCs may offer rehabilitation services, including physical therapy and occupational therapy, to assist residents in recovering from illnesses or surgeries. Residents in the nursing care section receive personalized care plans tailored to their specific health requirements. This may involve collaboration with physicians and health care professionals to address both short-term and long-term care needs.

Advantages of CCRCs

  • Continuum of Care: Residents can age in place, transitioning to different levels of care as their needs evolve.
  • Community Living: Social activities, clubs, and events contribute to a vibrant community atmosphere.
  • On-Site Health Care: Immediate access to health care services without needing to move to a different location.

Typical Residents

  • Active Seniors: Individuals who are relatively independent and want to enjoy an active lifestyle in a community setting.
  • Proactive Planners: People who prefer to have a plan in place for potential future health care needs.

CCRCs provide a holistic approach to senior living, offering a range of services from independent living to assisted living and nursing care, all within a single community.

The flexibility to adapt to changing care needs, combined with a focus on community and amenities, makes CCRCs an attractive option for many seniors planning for their long-term care.

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are designed to provide support and assistance to seniors who may need help with certain activities of daily living but do not require the level of medical care provided in nursing homes.

Here’s a more detailed exploration of key aspects of assisted living:

Living Situations

Assisted living communities offer a residential setting where seniors can have their own private apartments or rooms, promoting a sense of independence and autonomy. These communities often emphasize a social and community-oriented environment. They typically organize social activities, outings, and events to encourage residents to engage with their peers.

The primary focus of assisted living is to provide support with daily activities that may become challenging for seniors. This can include assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management, and other ADLs.

Services and Facilities

Residents receive individualized care plans based on their specific needs and preferences. The level of assistance can be tailored to accommodate each resident’s unique requirements.

Assisted living communities typically provide meals, housekeeping, and laundry services, relieving residents of some of the responsibilities associated with daily living.

Trained team members in assisted living communities assist residents with medication management, ensuring that medications are taken as prescribed.

Independence and Autonomy

Residents often have their own private living spaces, allowing them to maintain a level of independence while still having access to assistance when needed.

Assisted living residents also have the freedom to make choices about their daily routines, meals, and participation in social activities, promoting a sense of control over their lives.


Assisted living communities employ trained caregivers, including certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or personal care aides, who can provide the necessary assistance to residents.

While assisted living does not offer round-the-clock medical supervision, team members is typically available 24/7 to respond to emergencies and provide support.


  • Independence: Residents have their own private living spaces and retain a level of independence.
  • Social Interaction: Opportunities for socialization with peers are abundant.
  • Supportive Services: Assistance with daily tasks is readily available.

Typical Residents

  • Seniors Needing Assistance: Individuals who require help with some daily activities but do not need constant medical attention.
  • Socially Active Seniors: Those who value community engagement and social activities.

Assisted living provides a supportive and socially engaging environment for seniors who need assistance with certain daily activities but do not require the intense medical care provided in nursing homes.

The emphasis on personalized care plans and promoting independence makes assisted living an attractive option for many older adults seeking a balance between assistance and autonomy.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) or long-term care communities, provide a higher level of care and medical attention compared to other senior living options.

Here’s a more in-depth look at key aspects of nursing homes:

Living Situations

Nursing homes are designed for individuals with complex medical needs or chronic illnesses that require constant supervision and skilled nursing care. Residents in nursing homes receive round-the-clock medical attention and supervision. This includes assistance with medications, monitoring vital signs, and addressing any health emergencies promptly.

Many nursing homes offer rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for residents recovering from surgeries, illnesses, or injuries.

Services and Facilities

Skilled nurses and health care professionals provide specialized care, addressing the unique needs of each resident. This can include wound care, medication management, and managing chronic conditions. Nursing homes also assist residents with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating. The level of assistance depends on the individual’s needs.

Nursing homes are suitable for individuals who require ongoing, extended care due to chronic conditions or disabilities.


Nursing homes have a team of skilled health care professionals, including registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and therapists, to provide comprehensive care.

Residents receive individualized care plans that address their specific health needs. These plans are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure ongoing appropriateness.


  • Medical Attention: Offers the highest level of medical care and supervision.
  • Specialized Services: Tailored care plans for complex health care needs.

Typical Resident

  • Individuals with Chronic Illnesses: Those requiring continuous medical care.
  • Recovery Patients: Individuals recuperating from surgery or illness.

Nursing homes play a crucial role in providing specialized and continuous care for individuals with complex medical needs. They are designed to meet the health care and daily living requirements of residents who are not able to receive care safely or effectively in other settings.

Families considering nursing homes should carefully evaluate the level of care, staffing, and overall environment to ensure it aligns with the specific needs of their loved ones.

Make the Right Choice for a Senior Lifestyle Community 

The choice between CCRCs, assisted living, and nursing homes depends on your current health status, lifestyle preferences, and long-term care needs. 

Senior Lifestyle offers many different lifestyle options, including CCRCs, which can simplify your search for just the right fit. Our residents at Senior Lifestyle communities get the level of care they need with the amenities and features they deserve. 

Find out more about Senior Lifestyle or schedule a visit today.

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For more information on retirement and senior housing options, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you.