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Senior Living Options Today

Guidance   »   Types of Communities   »   Senior Living Options Today

Long gone are the days when senior living conjured up images of living alone at home or moving into nursing home facilities that felt more like hospitals for the old.

Since the late 1980s, the concept of senior housing has evolved from medical care for the elderly to one of providing services to allow the aging to live with more independence. And in the last two decades, that concept has further evolved to accommodate lifestyle and quality of life choices, focusing not just on living, but living well.

Today, senior living is all about choice: in accommodations, activities, fitness, food, and healthcare.

Options for Independent Seniors

Independent seniors who are active can consider these types of senior living options:

Senior Apartments

Age Restrictions: These apartments are for independent adults aged 55 and over.

Health & Mobility Restriction: Must be able to live independently, but assistance is .

Property Type: Apartments are available for rental, typically.

Housing: Apartments can range from luxury accommodations with high-end finishes to low-income housing.

Service & Amenities: Apartments are designed to be accessible with seniors in mind. Services can range from a typical luxury building (doorman, elevator, gym) to providing transportation or access to social services.

Additional Assistance: None provided by the apartments directly, municipalities may provide additional assistance. Otherwise, residents will need to hire a service on their behalf.

Allows Aging in Place: Yes.

Payment: Monthly rental.

Age-Restricted Communities

AKA “retirement communities,” “active adult communities,” “55+ communities.”

Age Restriction: These types of communities are designed for adults aged 55 and over.

Health & Mobility Restriction: Must be able to live independently with little to no assistance.

Property Type: Ownership with monthly fees or rental.

Size of Housing: Studio apartments to large 2+ bedrooms with den in detached home, with full kitchens. Styles range from single family detached homes, townhouses, cottages, bungalows, to condominiums.

Services & Amenities: Typically, they are amenity-rich, offering well-appointed clubhouses with on-site pools, tennis courts and/or golf course. Services may include home maintenance, landscaping, etc.

Additional Assistance: None provided by the community. Residents may hire a service on their own

Allows Aging in Place: In most cases, no. Services are not provided by the community. Outside help will need to be procured or residents must move to a facility that could provide a higher level of care.

Payment: These homes are for sale with a monthly community fee

Independent Living

Age Restriction: Usually 55 and over or 62 and over. Mostly for independent seniors who are typically aged 65 and over who desire a higher level of service and activities.

Health & Mobility Restriction: Must be able to live independently.

Property Type: Housing rentals.

Size of Housing: Styles range from single family detached homes, townhouses, cottages, bungalows, to apartments with full-sized kitchens and often with washer/dryer, but with flexibility to move to a different floorplan pending availability.

Services & Amenities: These communities provide dining, fitness programs, social hours, continuing education, and a calendar of activities to suit interests, along with housekeeping/laundry, and home maintenance

Allows Aging in Place: No. Services are not provided by the community. Outside help will need to be procured or residents must move to a facility that could provide a higher level of care.

Payment: Monthly rental.

Options for Seniors Who Need Assistance

When seniors need help with daily living activities or with healthcare, there are many options available, depending on the level and type of care needed:

Home Care

Age Restriction: No age minimum, but primarily for seniors who need help with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, dressing, cooking and who want to remain in their current home.

Health & Mobility Restriction: Need assistance to live independently.

Property Type: Their current home.

Services & Amenities: Certified home aides or personal care aides can assist with daily activities. Visiting nurses can provide medical services.

Payment: Hourly rates for aides and nurses.

Allows Aging in Place: Yes. Residents stay in their homes for as long as they use caretakers.

Residential Care Homes

AKA “Group Homes,” “Adult Homes,” or “Rest Homes”

Age Restriction: No age minimum, but primarily for seniors who need assistance with daily activities around the clock in a smaller, more intimate community

Health & Mobility Restriction: Cannot live independently.

Property Type: Rental only with monthly fees depending on level of assistance.

Size of Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms within a home environment.

Services & Amenities: Aides or caretakers are available 24 hours a day and can assist with bathing, grooming, cooking, errands. Amenities and nursing services can vary.

Allows Aging in Place: Yes. Many facilities allow aging in place if they have skilled nurses and aides within their community.

Payment: Monthly rental.

Assisted Living

Age Restriction: No age minimum, but ideally for seniors who need varying levels of assistance with daily activities and who would like more of a community.

Health & Mobility Restriction: Cannot live independently.

Property Type: Rental only with monthly fees depending on level of assistance.

Size of Housing: Several options available including studios/1 bedroom/2 bedroom apartments or with kitchenettes (smaller refrigerator, sink, and microwave), private or shared suites.

Services & Amenities: Services include all meals, housekeeping, laundry, scheduled transportation for errands, wellness programs with a daily calendar of activities and events. Additional levels of assistance can be provided depending on need – from medication management, incontinence care, bathing, grooming, dressing, etc. Care staff is available 24 hours a day with on-site nurses and/or scheduled doctor visits. Some communities can coordinate with hospice care so that aging in place would be possible. Many amenities are often provided including common living rooms, dining room, library, movie theater/media room, arts and crafts room, fitness room, etc.

Additional Assistance: Care is provided by the community.

Allows Aging in Place: Yes. Many assisted living facilities allow for aging in place if they have skilled nursing within their community or if they are able to provide/coordinate hospice services.

Payment: Monthly rental.

Memory Care

AKA “Alzheimer’s/Dementia care”

Age Restriction: No age minimum, though focus of care is on seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Property Type: Rentals only. Monthly fees are included to pay for services, depending on the level of assistance.

Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms, private or shared suites, and studio apartments with kitchenettes

Services & Amenities: Memory care services are similar to assisted living but residents receive a higher level of care for their Alzheimer’s or dementia. Residences have an extra level of security to prevent wandering, along with regular safety checks. The calendar of activities and events are designed to improve memory and cognition.

Additional Assistance: Care is provided by the community, including skilled nurses.

Allows Aging in Place: In certain cases, yes, depending on the presence of skilled nursing.

Payment: Monthly rental.

Skilled Nursing

Age Restriction: Often a short-term solution for seniors who need access to 24-hour medical care in addition to assistance with daily living activities, as they recover from a recent hospitalization due to a serious illness or injury.

Property Type: Temporary housing while they recover. Some skilled nurses also provide home care at home.

Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms

Services & Amenities: Licensed and registered nurses are available on-site 24 hours a day to provide medical care. Services include all meals, housekeeping, laundry. Additional levels of assistance can be provided depending on need – from medication management, incontinence care, toileting, bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, etc. Some communities can coordinate with hospice care so that aging in place would be possible.

Payment: Daily rates for care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

AKA "CCRCs" or “Life Plan Communities”

Age Restriction: Over 55 years old. Ideally, they serve CCRCs independent seniors who recognize that they may need increasing levels of care and assistance as they age and would prefer to age in place.

Property Type: Houses and apartments that can be owned or rented, depending on the contract.

Housing: Single family homes, townhouses, cottages, apartments (from studios to 2-bedrooms) in Independent Living to apartments with kitchenettes in Assisted Living to studios or private suites in Memory care to private or shared rooms in Skilled Nursing.

Services & Amenities: May offer the same as an active adult community but services such as housekeeping, laundry, linen service, meals, activity programming, and scheduled transportation are offered. In addition, they can provide services found in assisted living, including skilled nurses.

Aging in Place: Yes. Residents are guaranteed healthcare despite whatever changes they may have in personal and medical care needs for the same monthly fee or at a discounted rate depending on the terms of their Residency & Care contract.

Payment: One-time buy-in fee upfront with monthly community fees

The choices can be overwhelming but one thing for sure is that they all respond to today’s seniors who demand to focus on LIVING rather than simply aging.

Which Senior Living Option is Best for You? Kithward can help.

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