Both retirement homes and nursing homes play an important role in the lives of senior citizens. Although they both offer care for the elderly, they are very different from each other.  

The main difference between retirement homes and nursing homes is that the former aims to provide a sense of independence along with recreational activities and socialization for older adults. On the other hand, nursing homes are designed to provide care for senior citizens who need medical attention and more meticulous care.  

Keep reading to explore more of the in-depth specifics of retirement homes vs nursing homes.  

Private vs. Government Owned

Retirement homes resemble a large community of apartments or condos, which are residential areas that can be bought or rented. In contrast to other facilities, these rooms are not owned or subsidized by the government. These private residences are paid for by the resident or their family members.  

Medical Care vs. Independent Living

Although certain retirement homes do come equipped with medical care, they are mainly aimed to provide independent living for senior citizens by creating an atmosphere of personal development, creativity, safety, warmth, and community. 

In contrast, nursing homes or long-term care facilities are traditionally run by the government. These types of facilities are designed to take care of seniors with reduced autonomy due to age or physical/mental impairments.

Two elderly men playing a game of chess


The costs of a retirement home is paid for in full by the resident or their family. However, in a nursing home setting, there are instances wherein the government covers part of the fees. 


A retirement home is a private residence, meaning that the rooms typically accommodate one person to two people. On the other hand, most nursing homes have been built with rooms that house 3 to 4 people.  

Availability and Accessibility

Depending on your location, there are four times as many retirement residences in comparison to nursing homes. Consequently, the waiting period for placement in a nursing home can range from months to years, whereas admission to a retirement community is instant.   

Retirement Home vs Nursing Home: Making a Choice

Now that you have explored the general differences between the two types of establishments, your next step is likely to conduct research on the retirement homes or nursing homes that provide high quality care. The first task to complete in this process is to narrow down the options. If you are doing research online, then you could list down your favorites and eliminate those that do not cater to your loved ones’ needs by reading the mission statement. From this section, it is already easily identifiable whether they share the same outlook and values as you do. 

A girl showing her cell phone screen to her grandmother

The next step involves evaluating the establishment in person. Take the time to actually visit each nursing home or retirement community to find out more about their services and amenities. What you should look for in such establishments is if they have the proper facilities to provide proper care to your elderly loved ones. 

Additionally, you need to make sure that their staff is receptive and friendly, because these will be the people that will be taking care of and interacting with your parents on a daily basis. Furthermore, ask about their accommodations and recreational activities. It is essential that people live in an environment that enriches their soul as much as their body.  

All these things are crucial and could potentially be overwhelming for you, especially if you have a hectic schedule. In times like these, you don’t want to sacrifice the health and wellbeing of your elderly relatives by rushing through the process or constantly postponing it due to the lack of time. What you can do to get it done right and with proper care, is enlist the assistance of the professionals.

We Can Help!

At Your Next Steps, we understand the importance of helping your elderly loved ones move into an environment that suits their every need. That’s why we offer comprehensive retirement living consultation, tips on decluttering, downsizing, content sales, package and storage solutions, residential sale, moving and unpacking services, and home care therapy.   

At Your Next Steps Inc., we have your loved ones’ welfare at the heart of everything we do. To learn more about our solutions, give us a call today!