Understanding senior living options

Senior living options offer a wide range of choices to consider. Understanding the difference in services and levels of care will help seniors make informed decisions. In general, the following will help you navigate through these differences:

Senior apartments and "over-55 communities" are residential properties for persons 55 years and older. These places typically offer community rooms, social activities, security and sometimes meals and emergency response systems are also offered.

Independent living communities provide seniors with meals, housekeeping, linen services and social and recreational activities in apartment settings. Some may also include a library, fitness center, convenience store, 24-hour staff presence, and transportation and banking services.

Assisted living residences provide seniors with supportive care from trained employees and prompt access to medical and emergency care in an apartment-style setting. Assistance can be provided for meals, bathing, dressing, ambulating, medication management and toileting. Typically, 24-hour medical care is not provided, but emergency response systems and 24-hour security are provided. Transportation and social activities are also included.

Continuing-care retirement communities accommodate changing lifestyle preferences and health care needs. In general, these communities make independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing available on one campus which makes changing levels of care much easier.

Adult day care entails a person in need of supervision and assistance during the day and can be dropped off just for the day. Some offer transportation to and from the center. The programs typically provide meals, personal assistance, medication management and social interaction and activities.

Nursing homes offer 24-hour nursing and/or medical care for seniors with more serious health problems. Services include personal care, room and board, supervision, medications, therapies, activities and social services.

Private duty care services are provided in the person’s home with the intent of making it possible to remain in comforts of home. There are two levels of this type of service:

  • Homemaker services, also known as personal care assistants or companions, provide assistance with household tasks such as housekeeping, cooking, running errands that an individual cannot manage alone. Personal, hands-on care assistance is not provided.
  • Home health aides and/or state tested nurse’s aides (STNAs) can provide a more extensive personal care option. They provide hands-on care such as bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, laundry, shopping, meals, medication reminders and transportation. Companionship and socialization is also provided.

Prices and services very from place to place, so it is always important to ask lots of questions!

Kristi Vaughn

I am a Licensed Social Worker

Read More on Senior Living
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 10:33 AM, 05.01.2012