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Where can I get more information on assisted living facilities and nursing homes?

The time may come when you need to consider moving a family member or friend out of his or her home. Figuring out your options and choosing the one that is best for your family member or friend may seem confusing and overwhelming. Understanding the difference between assisted living and nursing home facilities is an important first step.

Assisted living facilities and board and care homes are designed for individuals who have difficulty living alone but do not need daily nursing care. Services offered may include housekeeping, meals, help with daily activities, transportation to appointments, help with medication, and social and recreational activities. Some of these facilities may have units specifically for people with dementia, while others may not have the capacity to admit and care for dementia patients.

Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, are for individuals who need 24-hour nursing care and help with daily activities. Nursing homes also offer recreation and rehabilitative care. Keep in mind that skilled nursing care also can be provided in the home by health professionals you hire (privately or through an agency). On a long-term basis, this approach may be more costly and complex for you to manage.

All types of residential living facilities – assisted living and nursing homes may be quite expensive. As a general rule, Medicare does not cover housing facilities unless it is for a short-term stay in a nursing home right after a hospital stay. Medicaid only covers nursing home costs (usually not assisted living) for qualified low-income people. Consequently, many people have to pay out-of-pocket for residential care. In some instances private long-term care (LTC) insurance may be available to help with these costs, if the care recipient has purchased such coverage before needing chronic care. LTC insurance may pay for care in a variety of settings, including assisted living facilities. For more information, see AARP’s Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance.

For a description of the different types of housing, how much they generally cost and how to address the challenges of moving your family member away from home, read the following FCA Fact Sheets:

The following resources can help you find an assisted living facility or nursing home in your area:

LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA)

LeadingAge is a membership organization of not-for-profit aging services that include adult day services, home health, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing homes. To find out whether a particular facility in your community belongs to LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA), visit:



Connects older Americans (60+) and their caregivers with the local Area Agency on Aging’s Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides information about local aging services, support groups and other caregiver services, and community-based organizations.



Nursing Home Compare

Nursing Home Compare is a government online resource with information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country.