Advice on Aging, Senior Living

Housing options for older adults

If you have an older relative you are caring for, or you’re considering senior housing for yourself, you’ve likely felt overwhelmed by all the choices out there. What are the different options and how do you know which is the right one? Here’s a quick overview of the four most common options for senior care.

Independent Living

Can also be referred to as retirement communities, senior apartment complexes or retirement villages.

Who is it for? Someone who can manage daily activities mostly on their own, such as preparing meals, managing personal hygiene, taking medications, completing chores, driving and/or coordinating transportation, and keeping up with their finances.

What does it offer? The primary benefit of an independent living community is the social network. Most communities offer communal activities and a robust social calendar, as well as amenities such as dining halls, exercise facilities and even on-site salons. Some offer access to tennis and golf for additional activity options.

Assisted Personal Care

Who is it for? Someone struggling to manage the daily activities listed above who needs extra assistance. May include someone with a health condition that requires regular and/or specialty care.

What does it offer? Assisted living provides many of the benefits of independent living, plus additional on-site support. In addition to communal activities and amenities, assisted living communities can provide daily meals, basic housekeeping, laundry, transportation and medical care. Assisted living regulations vary by state, so do your research. The National Center for Assisted Living provides a review.

Skilled Nursing

Can also be referred to as nursing homes.

Who is it for? Someone with illnesses or mental conditions requiring full-time monitoring and medical care.

What does it offer? Skilled nursing provides the most extensive care you can get outside of a hospital. They help with custodial care such as bathing, dressing and eating. They also provide medical care, including monitoring and treatment, administered by medical professionals. Skilled nursing residents live in semi-private rooms with options for communal or individual meals. Some social activities and amenities are provided. Nursing Home Compare is a tool developed by the federal government to compare nursing homes in your region.

Memory Care

Who is it for? Someone with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another type of memory problem.

What does it offer? It’s important to note that while some of the facilities mentioned above provide memory care services, memory care on its own is a specific kind of long-term care designed for patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory conditions. Because they are designed for these patients, they offer specialized services such as therapeutic programs, expert supervision, social programs and family outreach. The National Alzheimer’s Association offers help in selecting a memory care facility.

While these are the four most common options, there are many different kinds of communities that may specialize in one type of care or offer several. The earlier you start reviewing your options, the better; and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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