If you’re a senior, family member, caregiver, or both, there are a variety of senior housing and care types from which to choose. These include independent living, assisted living, home care, and skilled nursing care (for acute health-care needs). Senior housing has many options you may consider, they can help assess you or your loved one for the most appropriate environment based on your individual needs. Terms you may hear on your journey… Congregate Housing is similar to independent living except that it usually provides convenience or supportive services like meals, housekeeping, and transportation in addition to rental housing. Designed for seniors who require little or no assistance with the activities of daily living, independent living communities provide services for seniors such as housekeeping, laundry and meals. Residents of independent units may have some home health care services provided by in-house staff or an outside agency.
Many independent living settings for senior adults provide hospitality or supportive services to enhance the experience. Under this living arrangement, the senior adult leads an independent lifestyle that requires minimal or no extra assistance. Generally referred to as elderly housing in the government-subsidized environment, independent living also includes rental assisted or market rate apartments or cottages where residents usually have complete choice in whether to participate in the community’s services or programs. The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed. Assisted living is designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation. Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer’s, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Residents are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan. Assisted Living and Long Term Care communities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia are often referred to as Memory Care units. Often housed in a special wing with additional security, cueing devices and other specific architectural features these areas are state licensed and provide programming specific to the population being served. These neighborhoods are staffed with individuals who are specifically trained to work with individuals who have some form of dementia. Memory Care neighborhoods can differ in the level of care they provide along the continuum of the disease. For instance, some assisted living communities will accept individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia through the entire disease process whereas other will only accept individuals who are in the early stage of the disease. A CCRC or SLC are communities which offer several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It is different from other housing and care options for seniors because it usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident (frequently lasting the term of the resident’s lifetime) and the community, which offers a continuum of housing, services and health care system, commonly all on one campus or site.
These CCRC communities and Senior Living Campuses offer housing, services, and nursing care, typically all in one location and are paid for through long term care insurance, paid privately, Medicare (if applicable in therapy) and in some rare cases, through waiver programs. Each part of the community may be subject to separate oversight. For example, housing could be regulated at the local level, assisted living regulated at the state level, and the nursing home part of the community governed by state and federal regulations.
Home Health Care
Home health care is a variety of health care services that can be given in your home and is generally used by individuals with an illness or injury. Home health care helps an individual regain independence through part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy. Nursing Homes/Skilled Nursing Communities are medical care options which provide care of chronic conditions or short term convalescent or rehabilitative care, for which medical and nursing care are indicated. Some residents are admitted for short stays of convalescent or rehabilitative care following hospitalization. This may include physical, occupational, speech therapy, and varied specialized rehabilitation programs to get you on your feet quickly.
Funding options for nursing home care include: private funding, long-term care insurance, Medicare, and many times Medicaid. Paying for nursing home care is a major concern for many families and speaking to the communities’ social worker can help you walk through the process.