The Differences Between Assisted Living and Long-Term Care

The difference between assisted living and long-term care

If your loved one needs assistance on a daily basis and you worry that safety or quality of life is in question, you might be considering whether senior living could be the right choice.

Many families, however, are not familiar with these communities or the levels of care provided.

We can help.

There are two types of senior living that offer assistance and care – assisted living and long-term care communities. Becoming familiar with the services offered, understanding the needs of your loved one and comparing them with the level of care appropriate will help you determine which is the better fit.

Similarities between assisted living and long-term care

While a different segment of the market is served by each of these communities, they also share some of the same characteristics, including an environment that is supportive of older adults. Consider the following features and amenities you’ll find in both options.

  • A residential community
  • Assistance is provided with daily tasks
  • Healthy dining programs are included
  • Physical fitness opportunities are available
  • Scheduled transportation is provided
  • Safety and security features are included in the community and residence
  • Both communities offer a maintenance-free lifestyle

Download our complimentary Family Decision Toolkit.

Differences between assisted living and long-term care

In general, residents in assisted living are independent but need a helping hand with one or more of the daily activities. They are also looking for ways to remain engaged and may be searching for an easier lifestyle – but one that still offers friendships, fun activities and other enriching opportunities.

Residents in long-term care may be chronically ill or immobile and require 24-hour medical care or supervision. They are not able to care for themselves or live alone and generally require more intensive assistance. In fact, the care offered is only below what is provided in a hospital.

To help you gain a better understanding of what to expect if living in an assisted living or long-term care community, we’ve compared the following features:


Assisted living typically offers private and personal residences that are accessible, may include a kitchenette and living area and can be personalized to make home.

Long-term care communities are generally more of a clinical environment where residents live in private or semi-private rooms.


Assisted living residents live independently but may need help from a staff member with basic tasks, such as dressing, grooming, bathing or managing their medications.

The staff in long-term care also provide daily assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming and may accompany the resident to an activity or the dining room.

Medical care

Residents may be assessed when they move in to create an individualized care plan, but the care provided in assisted living is more supportive and often the help is for personal tasks.

Long-term care communities provide around-the-clock attention and medical care for their residents who are typically living with a more complex or frail health condition. There may also be physical, speech or occupational therapists available.


Assisted living residents desire to continue living independent lives with help from a compassionate staff. They are able to live alone and without supervision.

Residents in a long-term care setting are not independent and may require the availability of care and attention 24/7. They are not able to take care of themselves alone.

Activities and social opportunities

Assisted living communities understand the importance and desire of their residents to remain active and socially engaged. A monthly calendar of options to choose from is provided.

In long-term care, the importance of remaining engaged is also recognized and you’ll find activities and entertainment available. However, these activities may be more limited and often require the assistance of staff.

Care providers

Assisted living caregivers are trained in providing personal assistance safely and compassionately. They are experienced in working with older adults and their families.

Long-term caregivers are skilled in meeting the needs of those chronically ill or who require medical care. Supervision is provided or overseen by a physician or registered nurse.


Assisted living tends to be less costly as the residents are able to take care of themselves with help. Medical care professionals are not required.

Costs for long-term care are generally higher because their residents require a higher level of care and attention. Depending on location and amenities, the price of long-term care can be twice that of assisted living.

Discover life at a Northbridge community.

If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.

You’ll also discover many benefits in a Northbridge Senior Living community, including our Signature Program S.T.A.R. Club (Sharp Thinking, Active Residents) – which offers our residents several activities to participate in with others, including:

  • Daily exercise group
  • Walking club
  • Tai Chi & yoga
  • Nutritional classes
  • Library and book club
  • Museum outings
  • Artists in residence program
  • Multi-generational music
  • Genealogy Generations

We’re here to answer any of your questions. Please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour. Download our complimentary Family Decision ToolkitFamily Decision Toolkit

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