Whether you’re looking for a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, sifting through the various options can be pretty confusing. Further adding to the confusion, there are several different terms used to describe the many types of senior housing. In addition, companies can and frequently do change the names of their housing types/service options/levels of care for marketing purposes.
With more companies venturing into senior living, additional options are available to families. The Legacy Senior Communities believes in educating the public and better arming consumers as they navigate through the senior housing sphere.
As we move through and explain the different levels of care, we will also identify the kinds of terms you may encounter when looking for senior housing, as well as some pros and cons that come along with these options.
Active Adult Communities
Active adult communities are not retirement communities in the traditional sense, they are simply master-planned housing communities with age restrictions (typically 55 or older, but some allow as young as 40). Active adult communities may also be referred to as resort communities, 55-plus communities, or bungalow retirement communities, among other names.
Residents in these communities lease or purchase their residences and enjoy a truly independent lifestyle. These communities often feature amenities and activities which older adults find fulfilling and enjoyable, such as indoor swimming pools, fitness centers, lush golf courses, on-site shopping and more.
Different types of homes can include single-family dwellings, mobile or manufactured homes, cluster housing, condo-style housing or special subdivisions. The main draw for active adult communities is the fact that older adults can live without the hustle and bustle that often accompanies younger families in the neighborhood. They also offer older adults the greatest degree of independence of all the senior living options.
This independence comes at a tradeoff, as residents are responsible for upkeep such as home and yard maintenance. Residents are also responsible for all aspects of daily living, including shopping, meal preparation, taking care of their health and personal grooming, laundry, housekeeping and more.
Independent living is a similar option to active adult communities, and many of the things that draw people to active adult communities also attract people to independent living. However, independent living communities – as well as the following offerings in this guide – are specifically designed and built with seniors in mind.
Independent living communities don’t usually go by as many different names as some of the others, however they will sometimes use the terms active adult or 55-plus communities, even though we highlighted the differences between the two earlier.
Housing options for independent living can vary greatly, but frequently include choices such as condominiums or townhouses, cottage-style homes and apartments. They also typically include options for parking, such as attached garages or underground parking.
Residents in independent living usually do not require assistance with day-to-day activities, caring for themselves and living independently in a secure environment of their peers. The major difference between active adult communities and independent living communities is that independent living communities have structure in place to help residents should they need it with activities of daily life.
Independent living communities may offer meals, laundry and linen services, housekeeping, planned activities and more. Residents are also not responsible for things such as home maintenance or landscaping.
If an older adult requires a moderate to high degree of assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, dressing and bathing, or if they require regular medical monitoring and assistance, then assisted living is the level of care for them.
Assisted living goes by many names, some of which include: residential care, personal care, extended care, supervised residential care, board and care, adult living facilities, supported care, enhanced care, adult homes, and sheltered housing.
Assisted living is a combination of senior housing, personal support services and medical support services all under one roof. Like independent living communities, they usually also offer things such as meals, housekeeping and linen services, as well planned activities.
Where assisted living communities mainly differ from independent living is the level of medical care services offered. Assisted living communities are often situated in areas near hospitals or medical districts, and many of them offer on-site physician services.
Long-term care is the highest level of medical care of all senior living service offerings. Long-term care communities are residential facilities where patients can receive comprehensive medical services from licensed nurses 24 hours a day.
Long-term care communities are also referred to as skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), convalescent care homes, and nursing homes.
Most long-term care communities also offer specialized therapies performed by licensed nurses and physicians. Individuals may stay in a long-term care facility for a short period of time if it also offers short-term rehabilitation. Services can include: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, wound care services and IV therapy. These are in addition to the personal care services such as help with eating, bathing, etc.
Memory care is a specialized form of long-term care which is focused on taking care of the needs of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia or memory impairment.
Sometimes also referred to as memory support, memory care provides a structured environment that reduces stress, safety features designed to ensure the health of residents, and programs designed to cultivate cognitive skills.
Many memory care communities use specialized interior design elements to reduce confusion and stress in residents as well. These can include features such as rounded walls to avoid blind corners, textured carpeting to clearly delineate boundaries, and lighting designed to mimic sunlight and cue residents to the time of day.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are communities which offer some or all of the previous offerings on a single campus or facility. Most CCRCs provide independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, and many more are adding memory care to their list of care offerings as the demand continues to rise.
CCRCs are also referred to as life plan communities.
The main benefit of a CCRC is that residents do not have to change communities should their health needs change and they require a higher level of care, they get priority access and simply move to the appropriate level for them.
Talk to an Expert at The Legacy Senior Communities
We at The Legacy Senior Communities know that searching for the right community can be a daunting process. That’s why we have professionals on hand who can answer any questions you might have about different levels of care as well as general questions about senior living.
In addition to these questions, if you would like information regarding The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s only Life Care Community offering all levels of care, call us at (972) 468-6208 to speak to one of our representatives or contact us on our website for more information.