When you’re looking for alternative living options for a loved one, knowing some of the basics will help you get a step ahead. This article is primarily focused on private pay senior living communities and is intended to give you a general framework of what’s available and how each option differs.
Independent Living (aka Retirement Living Community)
- An independent living community is basically a really cool apartment complex for senior adults. It’s like living in your private home without the hassle of cooking, maintenance, and all the other burdens a house can bring. In addition, most of these communities offer 3 meals a day, transportation, housekeeping, and a wide range of social events.
- Take into consideration that there’s a reason the word “independent” is in the name – services like medication reminders and help with activities of daily living are not part of the basic rental package. Often times, however, there is an in-house provider of support services to help residents age in place. Be sure to find out so you know your options as time moves along.
- An assisted living community is a state-regulated community that offers apartment-style living with staff on site 24 hours a day. The type and number of staff may differ by community, but all must meet a minimum requirement set by the state. Assistance with activities of daily living (e.g. bathing, dressing, grooming) and medication assistance are available. Some communities may include everything in a flat rate and others choose to utilize a “level” system to determine your monthly rate.
- Keep in mind that there are criteria that a prospective resident must meet to be accepted into an assisted living community. These same criteria may also affect one’s eligibility to continue his/her stay in the community. These criteria are set by the state. All medical conditions or diagnoses should be disclosed when talking with a community representative.
Assisted Living – Memory Care
- Just over 20 years ago (1999/2000), we started seeing Memory Care Programs being implemented in many existing assisted living communities. This was in response to the growing need to care for senior adults with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias. Over the years, additional regulations came into being, requiring that minimum standards be met in order to operate a Memory Care Program. The most significant focus is put on “programming,” like the type of activities offered. The goal is to maximize the resident’s quality of life while living with dementia.
- Admission and continued-stay criteria are set and must be adhered to by the community. Memory Care Programs are secured “units,” either within the walls of an Assisted Living Community or stand-alone communities.
Skilled Nursing Communities (aka Nursing Homes)
- As the name suggests, skilled nursing communities are more of a clinical/medical model than a social one. While there are plenty of opportunities for socialization, there are nurses available around the clock to monitor the health conditions of the residents. Physicians and/or Nurse Practitioners are involved in directing care for each resident. As with all the other senior living options, nursing homes have evolved greatly over the last 20 years. Significant efforts and resources have been made to create a home-like atmosphere while still receiving the care needed.
- Skilled Nursing is the highest level of care in the continuum of senior living. It offers, by far, the most clinical supervision of its residents when compared to the other options discussed. The regulations, as expected, are more involved – typically, a social worker or admissions coordinator will walk you through the decision-making process to determine if this is the right level of care for you.
- Short-term Rehabilitation – Skilled Nursing Communities also offer therapy for people who are recovering from a medical event, such as a hip fracture. This is the one instance where Medicare will help cover the cost.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
- Communities that offer all the options from Independent Living through Skilled Nursing are referred to as Continuing Care Retirement Communities. CCRC’s utilize a “campus-style” location with multiple structures housing the varying levels of care.
The management team at Covenant Caregivers has extensive experience with and knowledge about the different options in senior living. We would be happy to assist you in getting started with your search. Every community is different, so we strongly encourage touring any place of interest and getting the most up to date information (pricing, availability, criteria, etc.) directly from the community representatives.
Call us at 601-856-5660. We’d love to help!