As your loved one ages, they may be considering moving from their home to a senior community. But different types of living facilities offer different services. Knowing the differences can help you select the best fit for your loved one.
While the best fit may be selected from these living facilities, it is often possible for your loved one to remain in their own home as they age. Be sure to consider all options and the wishes of your loved one while helping them make living decisions.
Assisted living facilities provide a combination of housing and personalized supportive services. Seniors generally live in private apartments or rooms that they furnish and decorate with their own belongings. Staff members at these facilities provide support only when necessary and otherwise respect the privacy of residents to promote independence.
Services offered to seniors in assisted living generally include meals, housekeeping services, transportation, assistance with activities of daily living, and social and recreational programs. These facilities also include services such as emergency call systems and medication management, but are not licensed to provide further medical or nursing care.
The focus of an assisted living facility is to provide a safe and healthy environment while preventing social isolation. Overall, the facility is homier and less institutional than a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, but provides more care and assistance than a traditional retirement community.
Skilled Nursing Facility
Skilled nursing facilities are Medicare certified and regulated by the Department of Health to ensure they have correct staffing and equipment to provide nursing care, rehabilitation, and other medical services. The staff in these facilities generally includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, and a medical director.
Skilled nursing facilities provide a high level of medical care to residents, similar to hospital care. These facilities are required to have transfer agreements with nearby hospitals in case a resident requires emergency, restorative, or rehabilitation care that cannot be provided in the facility. The focus of these facilities is to manage, observe, and evaluate care.
Nursing homes are able to provide custodial and medical care to residents at all hours. The focus of nursing homes is to provide 24-hour medical supervision and care to residents, which limits the privacy and independence of residents.
Services of nursing homes include assistance with activities of daily life, medical care, meals, housekeeping, and social activities. Staff members in these facilities generally include a mixture of care aides and healthcare professionals.
Without dual certification, nursing homes cannot provide the full range of medical services a skilled nursing facility can. Most nursing homes, however, are licensed and certified as both a nursing home and a skilled nursing facility, fully staffed with healthcare professionals and able to provide all medical needs.
Retirement communities are intended for seniors who are able to care for themselves. Residents come and go from the community as they please, generally using their own transportation. These communities have varied types of housing, resembling a gated community or planned development.
These communities generally offer shared amenities and fewer responsibilities than traditional home ownership. Residents live in a community with others in the same phase of life, able to bond and build friendships throughout their retirement.
Retirement communities do not provide health care, medical services or assistance with activities of daily life. Residents live independently in houses or units throughout the community.
Continuing Care Retirement Community
A continuing care retirement community encompasses several levels of care in one community. This generally includes independent living for those who are able to care for themselves, assisted living for those who only require custodial care, and skilled nursing care for those who require medical care.
These communities are designed to accommodate residents’ changing care needs and allow them to stay in the same area. Because of this, residents can maintain friendships and interaction with others in the community throughout the remainder of their lives.
Each facility and community offers different services, and you should be sure to visit any potential location and ask about their specific services. It can also be helpful to get a feel for the community or facility where your loved one will be living to ensure they will be comfortable in their new home.