What Makes Senior Living Different from Nursing Homes

Two women sitting at a table while a nurse assist a male resident

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



There are a number of misconceptions about senior living, but one of the biggest is that senior living is just another name for a nursing home. That’s simply not true. In fact, there are many differences. It’s those distinctions that have helped senior living communities contain the spread of COVID-19, while nursing homes have tragically struggled. Let’s compare.

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Defining Senior Living

First, it’s important to understand exactly what senior living is today. You might be surprised that it’s actually an umbrella term for a continuum of care. Senior living communities may offer either one type of care or multiple levels of care on one campus. The continuum of care includes:

  • Independent Living – This type of senior living is specifically designed for active seniors who need little daily assistance and want carefree living with a range of social opportunities. 
  • Assisted Living – This is the next step in the continuum with onsite care, 24-hour supervision and support with daily activities provided. Plus, you’ll still enjoy amenities and social opportunities similar to independent living.
  • Memory Care – Here you’ll find an environment specifically designed for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that includes 24/7 support, structured activities and specially-trained team members.

How Senior Living Differs

The differences between senior living communities such as independent living, assisted living and memory care versus nursing homes are vast and include:

  • Care – Nursing homes are for seniors with medical conditions that require around-the-clock or specialized care such as wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, injections, catheter care and monitoring of vital signs and medical equipment. In contrast, assisted living regulations require that residents are medically stable and in independent living, no onsite medical care is available.
  • Accommodations – Nursing homes are primarily medical settings so they feel more like hospitals and residents typically live in smaller ‘rooms’, often with a roommate which makes social distancing extremely difficult. Senior living communities on the other hand may feature a range of accommodations from private apartments to free-standing cottages which offer ample room to limit exposure.
  • Lifestyle – Unlike nursing homes, senior living communities are focused on lifestyle and wellness with a range of amenities and enrichment opportunities. Families don’t have to worry about their loved ones being alone as these communities are making use of their beautiful outdoor spaces, abundant technology options and some good old fashioned creativity to keep their residents engaged and connected during COVID-19. Vitality Living communities offer daily updates via Facebook Live and can help loved ones connect with video chat.
  • Infection Control – Residents in independent living and assisted living typically require less interaction with healthcare providers compared to those in nursing homes and, according to a recent CDC study, this also helps senior living communities better contain the spread of the disease. Senior living communities are well versed in infection control protocols with yearly flu prevention. This means they have training in place, established supply chains and full-time housekeeping team members to clean and disinfect according to CDC guidelines.

You Have Options

Although adult day care and senior centers have closed, you still have options. Senior living communities are open for independent living, assisted living and memory care and have stringent measures in place to keep our residents safe. In addition, as seniors are more vulnerable to COVID-19, senior living communities have been prioritized by states for testing.

To learn more, contact us to schedule a virtual tour!

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