While most of us still firmly believe in the saying that “there’s no place like home,” sometimes home may no longer be the ideal environment for an aging parent. The onset of a serious medical condition or increased need for more dedicated care and assistance or additional social interaction and stimulation may prompt a search for living options for independent adults.
And while the idea of putting your parents in a different home can already inspire feelings of guilt, it’s also important to consider the fact that they will get the support and care they need. The good news is that there are now so many options that provide this kind of care and support. With so many senior housing options, there are usually many senior living facilities available nearby, and it’s important to note that not all are the same.
There are different types of living options for independent adults. This senior housing guide helps explain every type of senior living option available and will help you decide which is ideal for you or your aging loved one. Here are senior housing choices available, depending on your loved one’s current state of health and needs.
Below are the senior living options available for those older adults who are generally independent and do not need day-to-day assistance.
Senior apartments for independent adults are homes exclusively designed for individuals aged 55 years old and over. The kind of homes you can find under this vary widely, from detached homes in small communities to one bedroom, studio, 2-bedroom and even 3-bedroom apartments. While the structures are different, what makes them similar to each other is that they are designed specifically with convenience in mind, with more compact layouts that allow easier navigation, little to no stairs and in-unit laundry options, just to mention a few. Apartments senior living is suitable for older adults because it eliminates the need for yard work, maintenance and household repairs. Senior apartments can also be in the form of cooperatives.
These complexes or communities are age restricted, and only admit residents when they reach a certain age. Hence, older adults are surrounded by residents of similar age and interest. Other than some social activities in the community, senior apartments for independent adults offer few additional services, since they are designed for seniors who are independent and need almost no assistance with daily activities.
Senior living communities are basically like senior apartments, except that they offer more services and amenities such as meals, housekeeping, laundry service, transportation and community activities. This kind of living arrangement also features easy access to lifestyle and dining options so that seniors can stay connected and involved in the community. These lifestyle options include restaurants, spas and fitness facilities and regular social activities for residents. Such communities can be all age or age-restricted such as 55+ communities, or 62+ communities.
Another feature that distinguishes senior living communities from senior apartments is that they also provide access to emergency systems and assisted care, in case the need arises.
This setting is perfect for older adults who start out independently but want to avoid moving to another type of living option in case their needs change later on in life.
Before choosing independent living:
The next section discusses all senior living options available for older adults who require assistance with daily living activities. Such assistance is not always the same – some require help getting dressed, others require help with moving around because they have mobility issues, while others need all-around care because they are very frail. Let us look at each senior living option in more detail:
Assisted living facilities are options for seniors who are somewhat independent but may require a certain level of support with day to day living activities.
For this option, residents stay in private apartments, which can range from studios to two bedroom apartments, and share common spaces. Services include 24-hour assistance in day to day living activities like dressing, eating, mobility and hygiene, preparation of daily meals, housekeeping and laundry, transportation, community events and health programs. They also provide medical monitoring and will have medical care practitioners available onsite.
Before choosing assisted living facilities:
Memory care facilities are generally part of assisted living facilities, either as stand-alone units or part of a larger complex. Seniors can expect to see the same types of amenities as with assisted living. Memory care facilities are generally staffed with dedicated personnel who are trained to handle dementia cases, as seniors with memory care problems are generally harder to take care of than those who are without them. So, what is different about memory care vs assisted living in general?
Situated in real homes within residential areas, board and care homes provide non-medical assistance and care for single adults. This living option is typically housed in single family homes which are run by individuals or families and can serve anywhere from two to ten residents.
Board and care homes offer similar services as assisted living facilities, but are available in a much more home-like setting, making it ideal for people who like quieter or smaller communities.
A stay in the residential care home includes board and lodging in either private or shared rooms, which come with three home cooked meals a day. Residents also receive various levels of assistance for day to day activities, ranging from hygiene to financial management. Other services include different levels of custodial care such as housekeeping, laundry and transportation to doctors’ appointments. Lastly, they also receive medication management, whether through reminders to take medication or actual administration of medicine.
Before choosing board and care homes:
Outside of a hospital, nursing homes for seniors offer the highest level of care for the elderly. Assisted living vs nursing homes – what’s different? Nursing homes build up on most of the amenities and services that are provided by assisted living communities such as round the clock nursing care for those who need constant or complex medical assistance. While nursing homes were originally created for long-term care, many companies now offer short-term stay options for those who are recovering from illnesses, injuries, and surgeries.
Some specific features of nursing homes include private or shared rooms, daily cooked meals, (served in a common dining room unless residents are too frail to participate), housekeeping and laundry service and medical supervision by licensed physicians and skilled nurses.
Before choosing nursing homes:
Living at home care means receiving care from a home health care agency in the comfort of one’s own home. This option is the most flexible because there are services available to meet a variety of needs – whether it be from licensed medical professionals or non-medical professionals. Some seniors may only need help with daily activities as well as custodial care, while others may need more complex medical care.
Before choosing at home care:
Another option that cuts across all these different senior living options is continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs, which are a combination of all the facilities mentioned above. These facilities are designed to provide different levels of care for residents, all in a single location.
Continuing care starts with residents living in independent living facilities, which may be studio units or apartments. There are also units available for couples. During this period, residents can avail of services like cooked meals, housekeeping and laundry services. They may also avail of acute medical facilities if ever a need arises. As the resident’s need changes over time, he or she will then be able to move to the next senior living facility, which is assisted living or nursing home, without the need to relocate to another residential environment.
The assisted living and nursing home facilities of CCRCs are usually only available to residents who avail of the independent living units and are not usually offered for seniors outside of it.
Before choosing continuing care:
The key to successfully choosing the right senior living option is first to understand what to expect from the different kinds of senior living facilities. After that, the next task is to lay down important factors and requirements on your part such as your loved one's current health status, his/her medical needs (if any), lifestyle requirements, personality and of course, how much you are all willing and able to afford for the long-term care. You can then match these needs and choose the best type of care facility for your loved one.