As we age, it becomes more of a struggle to live independently and accomplish certain day-to-day activities. If you are experiencing this or have a loved one who is, it may be time to explore transitioning to Colorado assisted living at the Silver Maple assisted living facility in Highlands Ranch.

There are many options and many levels of care to consider, so choosing a facility can be daunting and stressful for many. It is especially confusing for many when they encounter the choice between skilled nursing and assisted living.

ALF vs SNF: The Differences Between Assisted Living Facilities and Skilled Nursing Facilities

These two options appear on the onset as very similar, but they are, in fact, quite different. Assisted living offers support to aging individuals with daily activities in a residential setting, where they can enjoy their independence, socialize, and be part of a community.

Skilled nursing provides a vastly higher level of healthcare for people who need more constant care from doctors and nurses in a medical environment. While both are staffed by experienced, professional, and compassionate staff, the needs they address are quite different.

What Is an Assisted Living Facility (ANF)?

For older adults who do not need intensive medical treatment and support but still require extra help with daily life activities, assisted living is an excellent option. At an assisted living facility, staff will help residents maintain their independence and dignity while ensuring they get the help they need with tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing, and other self-care activities.

Residents are encouraged to do as much as possible for themselves and to pursue personal hobbies and interests while socializing with other seniors and remaining physically active.

Social events are regularly scheduled at assisted living facilities. The staff promotes social engagement among its residents as a means of encouraging independence, companionship, interaction, and entertainment.

Events such as outings, exercise classes, art, music concerts, lectures, and more are arranged by the facility, and it is entirely up to the individual which opportunities they participate in. While these events are scheduled, residents are not expected to participate in something that does not interest them personally.

What Type of Care Is Available at Assisted Living?

Staff are specifically available to help residents with what is known as ADLs, or activities of daily living. These activities are vital for seniors because they help them to keep their independence and maintain their health for as long as possible. It is beneficial for aging adults to try to do as many of the following tasks for as long as they are physically able:

  • Going to the toilet
  • Bathing and/or showering
  • Getting dressed and undressed
  • Performing personal hygiene
  • Eating
  • Walking

Other daily activities, such as the examples below, are referred to as IADLs, or instrumental activities of daily living:

  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals
  • Managing medication
  • Running errands
  • Cleaning
  • Managing personal finances

All of these activities are important for seniors who wish to remain independent as long as possible and contribute to a healthy, meaningful life as they age.

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)?

The difference between an ALF and an SNF is that an SNF, also referred to as a nursing home, provides the services of an ALF in addition to 24/7 medical care for all residents. Older adults often reside at an SNF after they experience a significant health event, such as a stroke or heart attack. They do not need treatment at a hospital, but they still require constant care in order to stay healthy.

The staff ratio at nursing homes is much higher in contrast to assisted living facilities. At an SNF, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are on duty 24/7. At least 8 hours out of every 24-hour period, a registered nurse is on duty as well.

What Type of Care Is Available at Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Residents can request either short or long-term care, depending on their needs. Short-term stays usually follow a hospitalization due to surgery, illness, or injury. This type of care typically centers around rehabilitation with the goal in mind of the patient returning home after they have healed enough to regain their previous state of independence.

For many residents of SNFs, though, this will be their permanent home. Long-term residents require help with both ADLs and IADLs at a higher level than they would be provided at an assisted living facility. Additionally, they receive medical care and supervision with more complexities at any time of day or night.

What Kind of Services Can Residents Expect at a Skilled Nursing Facility?

As in assisted living, residents will receive many amenities like chef-prepared meals. However, the majority of their care is much more medical-based:

  • Therapies like speech, physical, and occupational
  • Wound care
  • Care for pressure ulcers (bed sores)
  • Feeding tubes
  • Intravenous medications
  • Respiratory therapy or ventilator care
  • Laboratory, radiology, and pharmaceutical services
  • Supplies, equipment, and other services necessary for the patient’s ongoing health and comfort


Q: What Is the Major Distinction Between Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities?

A: Assisted living facilities, or ALFs, are focused on promoting the greatest level of independence for residents as possible. They provide some basic day-to-day care, specified to each resident’s needs, with activities such as getting dressed, shopping, and cleaning. Skilled nursing facilities, or SNFs, are focused much more on the medical treatment of their residents and have nursing staff available 24/7 to meet these needs.

Q: What Is SNF in Medical Terms?

A: SNF stands for Skilled Nursing Facility, also referred to as a nursing home. This is a facility for seniors who have been hospitalized or have suffered an acute health incident, such as a heart attack or stroke, and will require round-the-clock care by professional nursing staff. This is different than an assisted living facility, which does not provide the same level of medical care.

Q: What Is the Average Cost of Assisted Living in Colorado?

A: The average cost of assisted living in Colorado can vary based on a person’s location in the state. From low to high, the average cost will be in the range of approximately $3,800 to about $6,300 per month. Facilities with more amenities will also warrant higher prices.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Care Facility and a Nursing Home?

A: A long-term care facility is the same as a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility. These are facilities designed to provide, for most residents, long-term, complex medical care 24/7 in accordance with their specific needs. These facilities differ from assisted living facilities, which don’t provide such involved medical care.

Find Your Place at Silver Maple Assisted Living Facility

Silver Maple assisted living facility in Highlands Ranch offers incredible amenities and care for seniors in Colorado, with an emphasis on independence, holistic mental and physical well-being, and companionship with other aging individuals. Please reach out to find out more about our services by contacting us today, or plan a visit to our beautiful facility to see for yourself in person.