Differences Between Nursing Homes, Assisted Living & Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Benjamin Franklin said it best – “nothing in life is certain except death and taxes” but with daily advancements in science, technology and health care, Americans are living longer than ever before*. This blessing however, has created a unique dilemma for modern American families: How to plan for and prepare for one’s retirement years.

Have you taken a road-trip lately? Almost every highway is graced with large bill-boards providing the locations of new planned communities where couples can spend their retirement years dedicated to recreational pursuits. I doubt you will find a local 居家安老 newspaper that doesn’t have at least one ad promoting the amenities found at a local assisted living facility. Try to search for “nursing homes in Virginia” on the Internet and thousands of web pages will appear. Each and every day new facilities offering different programs are being built and marketed across the state.

Is such a facility right for you and your family? If so, which facility? We often hear the terms “retirement community,” “nursing home,” and “assisted living facility” but rarely consider what these terms actually mean. The differences however, are striking and it is imperative to understand these differences when making choices for yourself or your loved ones.


In Virginia, a nursing home means any facility with the primary function of providing long-term nursing care, nursing services and health-related services on a continuing basis, for the treatment and inpatient care of two or more non-related individuals**. Put simply, a nursing home is a facility designed for someone who needs less care than a hospital, but requires daily health care assistance.

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