Whether you are beginning your research for senior housing due to your desire for a maintenance-free lifestyle or it’s been prompted for a loved one due to illness or injury, it’s important to know what options are available and the services provided at each. Senior housing options are categorized based on the level of care available to the residents; some communities offer true independent living with very little care provided, while others are designed to provide around-the-clock care.
Knowing the differences will allow you to make the right choice for yourself or your loved one and ensure a happy, healthy and fulfilling future.
For seniors who are still active, healthy and mobile, independent living options are the perfect choice. This type of senior housing generally includes free-standing garden homes, townhouses, condos or apartments that are designed with seniors’ needs in mind. These types of communities allow seniors to remain living independently in their own home, but also usually provide a variety of services and amenities to make life easy. For example, exterior home maintenance or weekly housekeeping, restaurant-style dining, scheduled transportation to community events, social activities and more. Independent living communities can also be known as retirement homes, communities or villages, 55+ communities, or continuing care retirement communities.
When seniors are facing declining health or need some help with daily living activities, an assisted living community offers the care and services they need to continue to thrive. Residents can choose from assisted living apartments in a variety of floor plans that can be furnished as they desire, living as independently as they are able. In an assisted living community, staff are available around-the-clock and along with daily living activities, also provide help with medication management, meals and housekeeping. Scheduled activities, events and transportation are also offered to keep residents socially active and involved in the community.
Within some assisted living communities, a special neighborhood or wing of the community is dedicated to those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In a memory care assisted living community, residents receive the same type of care as assisted living residents, along with additional services customized for the individual based on the stage of the disease. There’s a focus on each resident’s strengths and needs, and structured programs consist of physical, cognitive, creative, sensory and spiritual activities to enhance socialization.
When a senior needs a higher level of medical care due to illness, chronic condition or injury, skilled nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide professional nursing services 24-hours a day, seven days a week by registered or licensed nurses and physicians. Rehabilitation programs are also provided during short or long term stays, such as physical, occupational and speech/language therapy to restore an individual’s functioning and independence.
Respite care services provide a temporary break in caregiving duties so family caregivers have an opportunity to attend to their own needs. Loved ones become residents of an assisted living community for a short term stay, usually from a day or two up to a month. Throughout their stay, they are provided all the services the residents enjoy, and family caregivers have peace of mind that their loved one is safe, receiving the right amount of care for their needs.