What Is the Difference Between a Retirement Home vs. A Nursing Home?

Posted on: July 9th, 2021 by hhmin

If you’ve started researching senior living and care options for yourself or someone you love, you’ve probably come across terms like “retirement home” and “nursing home.” At first blush, it might seem there’s little to no difference between nursing homes and retirement homes – and quite often, the two terms are used interchangeably, though not correctly.

In fact, there are several important distinctions between nursing homes and retirement homes. Learning more about retirement homes versus nursing homes and what truly distinguishes the two can help you understand which one is right for you or your family member.

What is a retirement home?

First, it might help to understand what a retirement home is, and how it differs from a nursing home.

A retirement home – more modern terms you might come across are Life Plan Community, retirement community or Continuing Care Retirement Community – is a community that offers older adults multiple levels of living so that each resident can experience purposeful aging in place at their own pace, free from home maintenance, cooking, house cleaning and other responsibilities.

Generally speaking, most older adults initially move into independent living, then as their health needs change over time, they can move seamlessly into assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care or memory care that’s available on the same campus. Instead of needing multiple moves to other care settings around town, older adults can move within the same retirement community when they need a higher level of care. They’re still close to their spouse and friends, and they’re still receiving the care they need from staff members they know and trust.

Yet when it comes to a retirement home versus a nursing home, a retirement home with independent living offers you much more than care if you need it someday. Independent living at Houston’s Holly Hall, for example, offers people 65 and older an active, vibrant lifestyle they can enjoy today. Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find when you choose independent living at Holly Hall:

  • Private, stand-alone garden cottages or apartments in a range of floor plans; both offer lock-and-leave freedom and no maintenance worries
  • A gated, 20-acre campus that’s peaceful and secure, yet just minutes from all the activities and amenities Houston has to offer
  • An executive chef-managed dining program with flexible, restaurant-style dining, along with private dining and takeout options
  • A monthly calendar full of daily activities, along with numerous on-campus amenities like activities rooms, indoor gardening spaces, game rooms and more
  • A pet-friendly campus with plentiful walking paths and lots of green space to stroll together

Again, this is just a fraction of what a retirement home like Holly Hall offers you.

It may help to think of a retirement home like this: It’s a community that offers most everything residents want and need, right on campus so they can successfully age in place. And one feature of the community is its continuum of care, which often includes skilled nursing care, something you may have heard referred to as long-term care.

What is a nursing home?

A nursing home is a somewhat dated term to describe what are today’s long-term care communities. At a long-term care facility you’ll typically find highly skilled, certified nursing and medical staff members who are able to provide care and extensive assistance with activities of daily living on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.

Here’s a short list of the long-term care services provided at Holly Hall:

  • On-site medical director
  • Staffing ratios that exceed both state and federal standards
  • Individually focused care plan developed by our certified medical staff
  • Urgent-call system available in every room

As you can see, when comparing the two bulleted lists, there are quite a few differences between a nursing home and a retirement home. Long-term care – or nursing home – is just one of the levels of care you’ll typically find at a retirement community or retirement home. And a retirement community (or home) is the term for the overall, larger community that offers independent living and higher levels of care all on one campus.

You could think of it like this: The retirement community is the hand; long-term care is just one of the fingers that make up the hand.

What are the other levels of care?

Continuing with the hand analogy above, the other fingers on the hand, or levels of living, that you’ll find at Holly Hall are as follows:

Independent living – for active older adults who want to continue to enjoy their independent lifestyles in a community setting without the hassles of home maintenance, cooking, cleaning, etc.

Assisted living – for older adults who may need a bit of assistance with activities of daily living

Cognitive support – for those with some type of cognitive decline, memory care support helps them with their day to day and enhances their quality of life

Respite care – ideal for caregivers who need a break from their caregiver responsibilities

Health services and rehabilitation – this include short- and long-term care, rehab and extended stays

There are many stand-alone independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care communities all across the Houston area. If you need a hand in determining which might be the best choice for yourself or someone you love, we’re here to help.

Trust Holly Hall’s senior living experts to help you find the right fit

You might be just starting your research into retirement homes for yourself. Or you may need to find the right nursing home setting for a spouse or parent. Maybe you may still have questions about retirement homes versus nursing homes. Whatever your need, we’re here to help you. At Holly Hall, we welcome the opportunity to assist you. Please contact us whenever you’d like to start the conversation.