Contrary to what the movies tell us, there are many different types of senior living homes. Often, it can feel overwhelming to navigate all of them in search of a best fit. This guide provides a high-level view of each type of home, who they best benefit, and what types of amenities you can expect to find in each senior living arrangement.
Independent Living Communities
What are they : Independent living communities satisfy a range of housing options from apartments to co-ops, although apartment complexes are most common. This arrangement allows seniors to downsize from the responsibility of maintaining a home while still retaining the independence of their own space.
Who are they for : Seniors who want (and can) live independently with minimal care. Who prefer to live among their peers, and who desire additional security and no longer want to maintain a home
Common benefits : Landscaping, housekeeping services, meal preparation, security surveillance, community events, recreational opportunities
Cons : Limited onsite medical care; not equipped to handle elders with serious physical or mental ailments.
Continuing Care Retirement Facilities (CCRC’s)
What are they : The CCRC operates like a township, composed of apartments, small houses, assisted living homes, and nursing homes, each operating at different levels of enablement. This tiered approach to care ensures that you will find the right accommodation that best fits your unique requirements. When you require further assistance, CCRC’s enable you to comfortably move within the same community to another facility that better fits your needs.
Who are they for : Anyone. CCRC’s are equipped to accommodate your level of need through each transition in your life.
Common benefits : Stability, tiered care
Cons : Entry fees, high monthly charges, additional fees for housekeeping, meal prep, and transportation.
Assisted Living Facilities
What are they : Assisted living facilities offer a long-term care option that accommodates those needing assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), but who still wish to maintain independence. Most assisted living facilities can accommodate a range of care needs, from the very healthy to the very impaired. However, in this senior living arrangement, the level of care provided differs in each facility and is often dependent upon the care package chosen at the point of admission. Although ALF’s are the fastest growing option for elder care, each facility differs widely in amenities and cost per the licensing laws of each state.
Who are they for : Mainly independent individuals who require extra care managing the basic activities of daily living.
Common benefits : 24 hour supervision and security, housekeeping, medication management, laundering, meal prep, transportation, recreational activities, access to onsite medical care
Cons : Non-standardized amenities, fluctuating costs, not equipped to handle severe physical and mental impairment
Personal Care Homes
What are they : The personal care home, also known as the residential care home, is an intimate community equipped to assist you in your activities of daily living. These communities are modeled after assisted living facilities but admit far fewer individuals, maintaining their personalized and family-oriented caregiving style. Residents often get their own room to maintain a level of independence, but live within a larger home boarding several other residents. Most personal care homes offer residents food prep and daily personal assistance but do not place precedence on medical assistance.
Who are they for : Individuals who require minimum-to-medium assistance completing their daily activities, who benefit from personalized and intimate communities, and who may not be able to afford other accommodations.
Common benefits : Low cost, intimate and personalized care, meal prep, medication management, transportation to doctor’s appointments, recreational activities
Cons : only part-time medical services, communal living, does not place precedence on advanced medical care
Dementia can be described as progressing through three stages: Early Stage, Middle Stage, and Late Stage. There is also a pre-early stage called “mild cognitive impairment (MCI)”. Below are some generalizations of each stage and what to expect at each stage. Keep in mind, each person is different and may present with unique symptoms at each stage.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
There is a “pre-dementia” stage called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). During MCI, the person may have problems with concentration/decreased attention span. They may start to have word finding difficulty. The person may have mild memory problems but is able to perform all usual activities successfully, without more assistance from others. Writing reminders and taking notes allow a person to compensate for mild memory problems. The memory problem with MCI may remain stable for years. The person is usually aware of a problem and may try to hide or compensate.