Lifestyle and Care Options in Senior Living Communities

Sinceri 9 27 22 Lifestyle and Care Options

You’ve begun looking into care options for an aging parent, spouse, or relative. You think they may do better after moving to a senior living community (sometimes called a retirement home). But as you begin to research senior living communities, you discover they offer all sorts of different lifestyle and care options. You’re having trouble making sense of them all.

Lifestyle and care options in senior living communities

Independent living

At one end of the spectrum, there’s independent living. It’s for active seniors who need little or no help managing their health. They’re looking to change their lifestyle. That includes finding opportunities to make new social connections.

Their new apartment or townhouse may include a kitchen so that they can continue to cook most of their own meals. But in many senior living communities, they’ll be able to take advantage of nearby dining facilities when they want.

Community staff may look after various chores for them like laundry, housekeeping, and property maintenance, meaning they can spend more time on activities they enjoy. They can choose to participate in as many or as few of the planned activities organized by the senior living community as they wish.

Although they don’t need help with medications or personal care, they like the idea that it’s available within other parts of the senior living community if they need it one day.

Assisted living

Assisted living is for seniors who may be struggling in their current homes, either because of health issues, social isolation, or a combination of the two. Moving to an assisted living apartment means that they can regain some of their independence and form new social connections.

Supports generally include meals and snacks provided daily, laundry services, medication management, and help with personal care (e.g. dressing, bathing, grooming) as needed. The cost of these services may be included in the monthly rent or paid for on an à-la-carte basis.

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Memory care

Memory care is for seniors with dementia who may not be safe living on their own because they pose a risk to themselves or others. Memory care floors often have secure access, which controls the risk of residents – who may be disoriented – leaving the property and getting lost. There’s usually a higher level of support from staff on these floors as well. Some senior living communities have special expertise in providing memory care.

Respite stays and other temporary care options

Many senior living communities allow seniors to become temporary residents. This includes seniors who aren’t yet sure whether moving to a senior living community is a good fit for them, and they want to try it out for a limited period without making a long-term commitment (trial stay). Or they’re recovering from surgery and want a place to convalesce until they can return to their own home (convalescent care). Or a family member who’s been looking after them in their own home needs a few weeks off (short-term or respite care).

Things to keep in mind

Be aware that these are general descriptions. Different senior living communities may offer different sets of services and amenities within the same category. Some may offer several levels of service within a single category (e.g. within assisted living). Or they may have an option that bridges two categories (e.g. independent supported living).

Some senior living communities span all these categories, offering what’s sometimes referred to as a continuum of living or continuum of care, the idea being that if your needs change in the future, you won’t necessarily have to move to a new place where people don’t know you.

The main thing to realize is that there are a wide variety of options out there. Senior living communities aren’t all the same.

Not to be confused with a skilled nursing facility

Another important thing to understand is that senior living communities are different from skilled nursing facilities. We’ll describe those differences in our next article.

Learn more

Download our Senior Living Options guide to learn more about the different care options senior living communities offer, or contact us today to talk with a team member or to schedule a tour.

download your senior living options guide

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