Senior Living 101

Senior Living 101

Navigating the waters of senior living can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Since there are a wide variety of senior housing options available, it’s helpful to learn about the differences before you start looking. Here’s a primer to get you started.

Independent Living Community (IL) – A multi-unit apartment community usually available as a rental. Most IL  offer  social  and  recreational  opportunities,  including  two  meals  a  day.  Some offer  services  such  as housekeeping, transportation and home health care services.

Assisted Living Community (AL) – They provide a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care to meet the needs of those who don’t require full time skilled nursing care but might need help with  activities  of  daily  living  (ADLs).  They offer apartments ranging in  size  which  may  include studios,  one-  or  two-bedrooms,  social  and  recreational  opportunities,  three  meals  a  day,  housekeeping, laundry and transportation.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Rehab or Short-Term Care

State licensed facility that provides 24-hour skilled patient care due to hospitalization, complex physical or complex cognitive conditions and assistance with multiple ADLs. Patient must be admitted and followed by a physician. Maximum length of stay is 100 days – first 20 days are paid for by Medicare; days 21-100 require a co-payment.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Residential Long Term Care/Nursing Home

Medicare generally doesn't cover long-term, custodial care stays in a nursing home. Nursing home care can be expensive, and there are several ways to pay for it. Most people who enter nursing homes begin by paying for their care out-of-pocket. As you use your resources (like bank accounts and stocks) over a period of time, you may eventually become eligible for Medicaid.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) - A community that offers apartments with several levels of assistance, including IL, AL, and SNF home care so residents have the ability to “age in place.” CCRC usually  provides  a  written  agreement  or  long-term contract  between  the  resident  and  the  community  and requires a large buy-in fee.

Residential  Care  Home  Assisted  Living  –  A  licensed  Assisted  Living  Residence  providing  a  watchful environment and personal services to adults who require varying degrees of supervision and protective care. The homes are smaller with 2-8 residents, usually offering a shared or private bedroom, shared bathrooms, and lower patient to caregiver ratio. The high quality ones provide home cooked meals with residents usually eating around a dining room table in a homey atmosphere. These are especially good for individuals needing a lot of care, and not able to socialize much any more. It’s important to work with a Senior Placement Advisor who is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) to find the high quality residential care homes.

Memory Care (MC) – MC offers specialized programs for residents suffering from memory loss. Programs and activities are planned with dementia care in mind. Overall room sizes are smaller because they don’t spend much time in their individual rooms. For resident’s safety, all MC facilities are secured with fences and alarms.

Remember, no family has to go through a senior living transition alone. Senior industry experts can help to guide  you  in  the  right  direction,  take  you  on  tours  of  communities,  answer  your  questions  and  be  your advocate. Senior Living Advisors provide a free service, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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