Understanding Housing Options

Understanding Housing Options

In the marketplace today, an elderly person has a full range of services and housing options available to assist with their personal and health care needs. The nature and severity of their needs typically prescribes the type of facility suitable to meet those specific needs. Transferring to and from any of these communities is not uncommon as their needs tend to fluctuate. The following information provides clarification among the different senior housing options.


Retirement Living

A retired person may live in his/her home independently for all or much of their retirement life. Or they may choose to join a retirement community of adults 55 years old and up who live and care for themselves independently in their own home, much like a gated or closed residential community. The individual housing may be part of a mobile park, apartment building, a village of cottages, or residential houses, which may or may not include grounds keeping and/or a social center.


Independent Living (IL) = Elderly people living rather independently in a community, but typically are unable to maintain a single residential dwelling, and may receive in-home care services. A defined set of daily activities an individual may experience difficulty completing independently are referred to as Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s), which include shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, medication management, telephoning, transportation, and handling finances. Observing difficulties with these activities alert others when transition to an independent living community may be necessary.   These communities may offer one or more of these service amenities.


To distinguish, a senior care retirement community, referred to as independent living, may look very similar to that of a general retirement community, except the residents now begin to require living and care assistance, but are still able to carry on fairly independently. These communities typically provide grounds keeping, a social center, and/or other amenities. As an individual experiences an increased need for assistance, it becomes necessary to seek a more specialized care facility (or community, used interchangeably), which at that point may require a physical move. Specialized senior housing may provide memory care, assisted living, and/or skilled nursing.


Assisted Living (AL) = A long-term care facility or private home that provides 24-hour supervision and care defined as needing assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) such as, meals/eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, transferring mobility, walking, as well as the list of IADL’s, as defined in Independent Living. Assisted living evolved to bridge the gap between independent living and skilled nursing. The individual generally functions independently and does not require constant care; and they may experience some memory loss and forgetfulness. These facilities may also provide short-term respite and adult day care.


Memory Care (MC) = A long-term care facility that provides 24-hour close supervision and care assistance to individuals with declining memory loss and cognitive issues, but do not require the benefits of a SNF. These individuals are housed in a secured environment for their own safety, as many are exit seekers and wonderers, and are more inclined to exhibit heightened sensitivity to their surroundings and become easily agitated.


Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF, referred to as “sniff”) = A short and long-term care facility that provides 24-hour regular medical and full nursing care service, similar to a hospital setting. These individuals are typically very frail and unable to care for themselves. These facilities may also provide short-term rehabilitation, physical therapy, wound care, and other specialized care services.

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