Sadie Mays

Understanding the Difference between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia

Date Posted: February 1, 2024 1:13 pm

Understanding the Difference between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia

When families consider long-term care options for their elderly loved ones, two commonly evaluated paths are assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. While both types of care offer structured environments with access to support, they serve distinct roles in the spectrum of eldercare.

Assisted Living communities are designed for individuals who may need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication management but do not require constant nursing care.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) provide comprehensive medical care and rehabilitation services.  

How to Choose Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Options

Here are the steps to select the right option in Atlanta, Georgia:

Assess Medical Needs: Skilled nursing may be necessary if the individual needs daily medical attention.

Consider Independence Level: Assess the individual’s ability to perform daily living activities. If they can manage with minimal assistance, assisted living might be more appropriate.

Evaluate Care Goals: Determine whether the goal is to provide a long-term residence or a temporary stay for rehabilitation. Assisted living is often considered for long-term residency, while skilled nursing may be temporary.

Budgetary Constraints: Analyze financial resources as cost structures differ significantly between assisted living and skilled nursing.

Visit Facilities: Visit all possible nearby facilities; talk with the staff to get an understanding of the environment and the level of care provided.

Amenities: Check that the facility is offering amenities that will enhance the individual’s quality of life.

Assisted Living: What You Need to Know

Assisted living facilities in Atlanta, Georgia are designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities but still value their independence.

 These facilities offer a balance of support and autonomy. Residences vary from private rooms to apartments, and they commonly include a variety of amenities such as:

  • Personal care assistance
  • Medication management
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Meal services in communal dining settings
  • Transportation services

Determining the Right Candidate for Assisted Living

The ideal candidate for an assisted living facility in Atlanta, Georgia is an individual who:

  • Is largely independent but may need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, or eating.
  • Does not require intensive medical care that would necessitate a skilled nursing facility.
  • Can benefit from a community environment that provides social interaction and activities.
  • Is in need of a structured setting where help is readily available but personal independence is encouraged.
  • May require medication management to ensure health and wellness.
  • Seeks the security of having staff on hand in case of emergency without the constant presence required in a skilled nursing facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

Exploring Skilled Nursing: What You Need to Know

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), also known as nursing homes, offer a high level of medical care provided by licensed health professionals.

Here’s what to consider when exploring skilled nursing:

Medical Supervision: SNFs have medical professionals on-site 24/7.

Rehabilitative Services: Many residents require physical, occupational, or speech therapy.

Complex Health Care Needs: Skilled nursing provides for those with needs that are too complex for home care or assisted living.

Regulatory Standards: These facilities are regulated by both state and federal laws, which mandate specific staffing requirements and care standards.

Long-term vs. Short-term Stays: While some residents may stay for extended periods, others may only require short-term care during recovery from surgery or illness.

Medicare and Medicaid: Depending on the circumstances, Medicare or Medicaid may cover some costs of a skilled nursing facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

Amenities and Activities: Despite the medical focus, many SNFs provide activities and amenities aimed at enhancing the quality of life for their residents.

Identifying the Right Candidate for Skilled Nursing

The right candidate for skilled nursing is someone who:

  • Requires round-the-clock nursing care and has significant medical needs.
  • Needs regular monitoring due to unstable health conditions.
  • Is recovering from serious illness, surgery, or injury and needs intensive rehabilitation.
  • Has chronic health conditions that require constant supervision and management, such as advanced heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or diabetes with complications.
  • May suffer from severe cognitive impairments like advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, where safety and specialized care are necessary.

Comparing Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing: Medical Care Aspects

When comparing assisted living to skilled nursing in terms of medical care, there are several key differences:

Level of Care:

  Assisted Living:  Skilled Nursing
Provides basic medical monitoring, assistance with medications, and coordination with healthcare providers. The focus is on supporting, not replacing, an individual’s ability to manage their healthDelivers comprehensive medical care, including wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, injections, and immediate response to medical issues.


  Assisted Living:  Skilled Nursing
Typically staffed with non-medical personnel, although some have licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) on call.Mandated to have RNs, LPNs, and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) on the premises at all times.

Healthcare Services:

  Assisted Living:  Skilled Nursing
Often schedules regular visits from healthcare providers such as physicians and podiatrists but does not have these medical professionals on staff.Provides access to a wide range of rehabilitative  services on-site, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Regulatory Environment:

  Assisted Living:  Skilled Nursing
Regulations vary widely by state and tend to focus on resident well-being rather than detailed medical care protocols.Highly regulated with stringent federal and state requirements for healthcare services, staffing, and facility operations

Room Options: Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing Facilities

Assisted Living Facilities in Atlanta, Georgia typically offers a variety of room options, reflecting their focus on providing a home-like environment. Residents may choose from:

  • Private rooms
  • Shared rooms
  • One-bedroom apartments
  • Studio apartments

These living spaces often come with attached bathrooms and kitchenettes, allowing residents to maintain a level of independence. Some facilities in Atlanta, Georgia allow residents to bring their own furniture and decorate their living spaces to their taste, reinforcing the homeliness of the environment.

Skilled Nursing Facilities, on the other hand, are structured to prioritize easy access to medical care and the efficient delivery of health services. Room options in SNFs are usually more limited and may include:

  • Private rooms
  • Semi-private rooms, often shared with another resident

The rooms in skilled nursing facilities tend to be furnished with hospital-like beds and equipped to accommodate medical equipment. The focus is less on personalization and more on functionality to cater to the health needs of the residents.

The Social Life Differences in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing

Assisted Living Communities actively promote social interaction as a part of their service offerings. They typically provide:

  • A calendar of social events and activities, including games, music, and outings
  • Communal dining areas that encourage social meals
  • Shared common areas for socializing, such as lounges, libraries, and gardens
  • Clubs and special interest groups tailored to the hobbies of the residents

The environment in assisted living is designed to foster community and interaction, making social life an integral part of the experience.

Skilled Nursing Facilities provide social opportunities, but these may be more limited due to the health conditions of the residents. However, SNFs still offer:

  • Organized activities tailored to the abilities of residents
  • Rehabilitation groups, which can provide a social setting for those undergoing physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Shared dining halls, although some residents may require in-room dining due to health issues
  • Visitation areas for family and friends

Social activities in skilled nursing are often designed with a therapeutic goal in mind and to accommodate the less mobile or more health-compromised residents.

Amenities: What Sets Assisted Living Apart from Skilled Nursing?

The amenities in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia reflect the distinct levels of care and lifestyle they cater to.

Assisted Living Amenities

They may include:

  • Fitness centers or exercise classes designed for older adults
  • Beauty salons and barber shops
  • Recreational areas such as gardens and walking paths
  • Computer rooms or libraries
  • Transportation services for shopping, cultural events, and medical appointments
  • On-site security

The amenities in assisted living are typically focused on enhancing the residents’ independence and enjoyment of life.

Skilled Nursing Amenities

while also attentive to resident comfort, are often more medically oriented:

  • Access to medical equipment and technologies
  • Rehabilitation gyms with specialized equipment
  • Adapted facilities to support residents with severe mobility limitations
  • Dining services that provide nutritional support for a range of medical conditions

Evaluating the Health Condition of the Senior for Appropriate Care

Determining the right care setting for a senior involves a comprehensive evaluation of their health condition. This assessment typically includes:

Medical Needs: Does the senior require daily medical treatments, or are their health needs primarily related to the activities of daily living?

Cognitive Health: Are there memory care needs, such as those associated with dementia, which might require a specialized environment?

Mobility: Does the senior need help with walking, transferring from bed to chair, or are they wheelchair-bound?

Medication Management: Can the senior manage their own medications with reminders, or do they need a professional to administer medications?

Chronic Conditions: Are there ongoing health issues that require regular monitoring and intervention by medical professionals?

Quality of Life Considerations in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing

When comparing quality of life in assisted living versus skilled nursing facilities, several factors come into play:

Independence: Assisted living residents typically enjoy more autonomy, which can significantly impact their quality of life.

Social Interaction: Both settings provide opportunities for social engagement, but assisted living communities often have more robust recreational programs and activities.

Environment: Assisted living facilities usually offer a more residential atmosphere, which might enhance the residents’ sense of well-being.

Personalization: The ability to personalize living spaces is more common in assisted living, providing a sense of home and personal identity.

Financial Considerations: The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

The costs associated with assisted living and skilled nursing can vary widely and are influenced by several factors:

Basic Costs: Assisted living is typically less expensive than skilled nursing due to the lower level of medical care provided. Assisted living costs usually include rent, utilities, meals, and basic services.

Medical Services: Skilled nursing facilities tend to be costlier as they provide comprehensive medical care, specialized staff, and more complex healthcare services.

Location: Costs can vary greatly by geographic location for both types of care.

Room Type: Private rooms cost more than shared accommodations.

Additional Services: Costs will increase if the senior needs extra services beyond the basic package, such as additional personal care assistance, specialized memory care, or extensive medical attention.

Daily Living Assistance: Assisted Living Compared to Skilled Nursing

Assisted Living facilities in Atlanta, Georgia primarily cater to seniors who are mostly independent but may require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as:

  • Bathing and dressing
  • Meal preparation and eating
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation services
  • Light housekeeping

Staff members in assisted living facilities in Atlanta, Georgia are on hand to help with these activities, ensuring that residents maintain as much independence as possible while receiving the support they need.

Skilled Nursing facilities, on the other hand, provide more comprehensive care for those who require significant assistance with ADLs and have medical conditions that necessitate constant monitoring. This includes:

  • Complete assistance with feeding, dressing, and toileting
  • Extensive medication management and administration
  • Wound care and other complex medical treatment protocols
  • Rehabilitation services
  • 24-hour supervision by medical professionals

The level of daily living assistance in skilled nursing is much more intensive, with a focus on accommodating residents who have limited ability to care for themselves independently.

Nutritional Care in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities

Assisted Living communities typically offer:

  • Dining programs with menu choices to cater to various preferences
  • Assistance with eating if necessary
  • Nutritional planning to accommodate dietary restrictions and promote overall wellness

In contrast, Skilled Nursing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia provide:

  • Clinical nutritional management including tube feedings and specialized diets for medical conditions
  • On-staff dietitians who monitor the nutritional needs of residents
  • Individualized meal plans based on comprehensive assessments of nutritional requirements and medical conditions

Transitioning from Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing: What to Expect

The transition from Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing can be challenging for both the resident and their family. What to expect includes:

Assessment: A detailed assessment will be conducted to determine the resident’s medical needs and the level of care required.

Change in Environment: The resident will move from a more independent living situation to one that is medically focused.

Adjustment Period: Adaptation to a new routine, different staff, and possibly a new set of residents.

Increased Support: Enhanced medical care and support with ADLs, which can offer families peace of mind.

Navigating Regulatory and Licensing Differences in Care Options

Regulatory and licensing requirements differ significantly between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia, as the services they provide vary greatly:

Assisted Living is generally regulated by state laws, which can vary but often include requirements for staff training, emergency preparedness, medication management, and residents’ rights.

Skilled Nursing facilities are regulated by both state and federal laws due to their participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs. These regulations cover a broad spectrum, from the specifics of medical care to staff qualifications and facility operations.

Sadie G. Mays Health & Rehabilitation Center, Where Compassion Meets Excellence in Care

Facing health challenges can be a maze of ifs and buts. At Sadie G. Mays Health & Rehabilitation Center, we transform doubts into confidence. No fluff, just fact: we’ve been the rock for Atlanta’s families since 1947 with our comprehensive long-term care, rehabilitative, and hospice care services.

Hesitation can cost more than just time—it can affect the quality of care your loved one receives. Our Accreditation by The Joint Commission isn’t just a badge—it’s your assurance of quality and safety in every aspect of our service.

Don’t let uncertainty become a permanent guest in your life. Step up to certified care that covers everything from nutritional needs to social activities. It’s all here, distilled in a click that matters.

Visit  us and secure the certainty that your family deserves. Because at Sadie G. Mays, we don’t just care—we care right.


What is the main difference between assisted living and skilled nursing?

Assisted living facilities typically offer personal care and support services in a residential setting, focusing on independence and privacy. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), on the other hand, provide a higher level of medical care, with 24-hour nursing supervision and therapies for residents with serious health issues.

How do I decide if my loved one needs assisted living or skilled nursing?

Consider their medical needs. If they require constant medical attention, wound care, or rehabilitation, a skilled nursing facility may be appropriate. However, if they are mostly independent but need help with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and medication management, assisted living could be a better fit.

Are assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities regulated differently in Georgia?

Yes, they are. In Georgia, assisted living facilities are regulated by the Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation Division, while skilled nursing facilities are federally regulated and must meet strict criteria set by Medicare and Medicaid services in addition to state regulations.

Do skilled nursing facilities offer the same amenities as assisted living facilities?

Skilled nursing facilities often offer amenities similar to assisted living, such as meals, activities, and social programs, but the extent and focus of services will vary due to the medical nature of care in SNFs.

What is the typical cost difference between assisted living and skilled nursing in Atlanta?

Skilled nursing typically costs more due to the higher level of medical care and supervision provided. Costs can vary widely based on the specific facility and the level of care needed. It’s important to discuss these details with each facility in Atlanta for accurate comparisons.

Can a resident move from assisted living to skilled nursing if their health needs change?

Yes, it’s possible to transition from assisted living to skilled nursing as health needs evolve. Many facilities offer both types of care and have partnerships with nearby facilities to make such transitions smoother.

What should I do if my loved one is resistant to moving into assisted living or a skilled nursing facility?

It’s important to have an open and honest conversation about their concerns. Involving a healthcare provider, trusted family members, or a counselor can help address their fears and provide them with information to make an informed decision.