Senior Living Care Options
You may hear a lot of terms bandied about to describe different living arrangements within senior living communities: independent living, assisted living, memory care, respite care, convalescent care. And you may wonder, What do they mean?
Here’s a quick overview.
Senior Living Care Option #1: Independent Living
For active seniors who need little or no help managing their health. They’ve grown tired of the hassles of keeping up a house and are ready to downsize. They like that they can choose to have various chores done for them like laundry and property maintenance.
Their new apartment or townhouse may include a kitchen so that they can continue to cook most of their own meals. They enjoy the social aspects of living in a seniors’ community, including programmed activities. Although they don’t need support with medications or personal care, they like the idea that it’s available if they need it one day.
- Is an Independent Living Community Right for Me?
- Talking About Independent Senior Living with Your Parents
- Should My Grieving Parent Move to Independent Living?
Senior Living Care Option #2: Assisted Living
For seniors who may no longer be thriving in their own 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.
Meals are often provided along with things like laundry services. Medication management is usually included. Help with personal care (e.g. dressing, bathing, grooming) is also available as needed. Services may be included with rent in the overall fees or they may be charged on an à-la-carte basis.
- 7 Signs That Your Elderly Parent Isn’t Safe Living in Their Current Home – And How to Deal with It
- Talking to a Parent with Early Stage Dementia about Assisted Living
Senior Living Care Option #3: Memory Care
For seniors with dementia who may not be safe living on their own because they pose a risk to themselves or others. Memory care communities often have secure access, which controls the risk of residents – who may be disoriented – leaving the property and becoming lost. There’s usually a higher level of support from staff as well. Some senior living communities have special expertise in providing memory care.
- My Parent with Dementia is Struggling in Assisted Living – Is Memory Care the Answer?
- Tips to Be Prepared if a Loved One with Dementia Wanders
- Senior Living Options When One Spouse Has Dementia and the Other Doesn’t
Respite Stays: A Temporary Senior Living Care Option
Many senior living communities allow seniors to become temporary residents – this is known as a respite stay. This includes seniors who aren’t yet sure whether retirement home living 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 they’re feeling house-bound during the winter and want to spend a week or two in a senior-friendly community with social activities (winter stay – a kind of mini-vacation). Or a family member who’s been looking after them in their own home needs a few weeks off (short-term or respite care).
Keep in mind 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 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.