According to the most recent census, over 40 million Americans are 65 or older. That shift in demographics has led to seniors having more living options than ever before. Read on to learn more about some of the choices that are available.
Independent living (retirement living)
In an independent living community, residents live in their own apartments while enjoying community life and knowing that help is available if needed. Designed for seniors who don’t need assistance in their daily activities, independent living communities typically offer a variety of recreational activities, health maintenance programs, and dining options.
Assisted living communities are designed for seniors who need minimal help with their daily routines. These facilities typically serve three meals a day, provide transportation to doctors’ appointments and shopping centers, and encourage residents to exercise and socialize. Some may offer optional laundry and cleaning services. One popular add-on is medication management. The service manages refills and delivers medications at the appropriate times, providing a safety net for seniors who may otherwise forget to take them.
Memory care is specifically designed for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Memory centers typically offer the same services as assisted living facilities with additional supervision. They’re often in a secure wing of the facility to keep patients from wandering. Staff members are trained to keep residents safe and to give gentle, respectful redirection when it’s needed. Many offer rehabilitation services designed to keep the dementia from progressing, such as cognitive therapy, physical/occupational therapy, and social interaction.
Skilled nursing facilities
Skilled nursing facilities provide the highest level of care outside of hospitals. Services typical include all aspects of personal care, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and toileting. Whereas assisted living facilities often stipulate that residents have to be able to get in and out of bed with the help of only one person, skilled nursing facilities provide as much assistance as is needed. Another thing that differentiates them from other senior living options is the level of medical care available. Most have a nurse on duty 24/7, a doctor who oversees each patient’s care, and other health care professionals who come in as needed.
Some senior living facilities offer the entire range of care, allowing seniors to stay in the community as their needs change, and many have social workers to advise you on the most appropriate level of care. Regardless of the option you choose, do your homework. Search for online reviews of the facility, take a tour, and talk to both residents and visiting family members. When you find just the right facility, you’ll be glad you did your homework.