Types of Senior Living Communities

As the number of seniors in the U.S. has increased, so have the choices available for senior living. Before you begin your research, consider geographic location. Many retirees choose to sell their family homes and move to another city or state to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Optionally, you may want to stay in the community you know and remain close to your friends. Types of communities to consider include:

  • Independent living communities range from neighborhoods with larger single family ranch homes with a monthly fee to cover lawncare (you still cook and clean) to apartment homes. You can always use home health care services as needed, for example, as you recover from surgery. The features in these communities may vary, but independent living communities typically provide residents a variety of activities and options to socialize and some may include dining options and cleaning. Unless otherwise stated, these communities do not offer assisted living or nursing care.
  • Assisted living provides specific assistance for those who are unable to live fully on their own. Most assisted living spaces provide limited (or no) kitchen facilities for residents. Assistance may include cleaning, as well as help bathing and dressing, getting to the dining room, remembering medications, and similar activities.
  • Nursing homes (long-term care facilities) provide 24x7 care to those who are physically unable to care for themselves. 
  • Memory care units take residents with failing memories, usually due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These facilities are often secured to prevent residents from wandering. 
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) provide the full spectrum of care to residents. You can move into an apartment, condo, or, in some communities, a villa, under their independent living structure, but feel better knowing that if you or your spouse eventually need assisted living, nursing care or memory care, you will not have to move to another community.

Choosing a community while you are still relatively healthy and of sound mind is a better option than rushing into a decision if you or your spouse needs immediate increased care due to an accident or illness. Do your research and plan to visit the top three or four communities. Discuss the options with your family, and include your children (or even older grandchildren) in your site visits. Ask about amenities, enjoy a meal in the dining room, and talk to current residents to get a better feel for the community.

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