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Senior Options

Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Nursing Home?

By: Rolf Kramer

Senior housing consists of housing for seniors in single-family detached or attached homes or group living facilities. Senior housing includes living in a senior community in close proximity to other seniors and participating in a wide range of activities and special services. Senior housing consists of 3 basic types: Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes (Skilled Nursing Facilities). Residential communities that combine all 3 housing types are called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). CCRC residents can move back and forth between various facilities in the same general location, as their needs for care change over time.

Independent Living: Housing for seniors who are self-sufficient and want the freedom and privacy of their own apartment or house, along with the security, comfort and social activities of a senior community. Seniors who opt for Independent Living must be able to manage their home and personal needs on their own. If custodial or medical care becomes necessary, residents in Independent Living are permitted to bring in outside services of their choice.

Independent Living for seniors is residing in a compact, easy-to-maintain, private apartment, townhouse, or detached house within a community of seniors. Any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors (generally those aged 55+) may be classified as an Independent Living community. These can be described as: Retirement Communities, Retirement Homes, Senior Apartments, Senior Housing, or Independent Living Communities.

The physical structure of Independent Living facilities is quite diverse. The two most common Independent Living communities are Senior Apartments and Retirement Communities

Senior apartments in apartment complexes are restricted by age, usually 55+. Many senior apartment complexes include assistive technologies such as handrails and pull-cords. Some senior apartment complexes provide community services such as recreational programs, transportation services, and meals in a communal dining room.

Retirement communities are groups of homes or condominiums that are restricted to seniors age 55 and over (or in some cases, 62+). Retirement communities may include single-family or attached homes, mobile or manufactured homes or cluster housing. Depending on the particular community, residents may lease or buy their housing unit.

Independent Living facilities often include a number of optional services, including:

·         Recreational, educational, and social activities such as shopping trips and cultural outings

·         Communal Meals

·         Housekeeping

·         Local transportation

·         Exercise facilities, such as pools, saunas and exercise machines

·         Libraries

·         Beauty shops

·         Gardens

·         Activity rooms or clubhouses

·         Golf courses

·         Tennis courts

Some communities include full-time directors for social or recreational services, while others offer only informal activities. Many are gated communities with their own security guards.

Assisted Living: Assisted living facilities are designed for individuals who cannot function in an independent living environment but do not need nursing care on a daily basis  Assisted living facilities are for people who need help with personal care such as bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation, or housekeeping. Residents may suffer from memory disorders, or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Assisted Living is appropriate for anyone who can no longer manage to live on their own but doesn't require medical care.

Board and care homes are smaller in scale than assisted living facilities. They provide a room, meals, and help with daily activities. Many board and care homes are set up to serve just two to six residents in a converted single family home though some are converted apartments.

The basic services an assisted living facility provides include:

·         24-hour supervision with security and emergency call systems

·         Three meals a day, most often served in a restaurant-like setting

·         Personal care assistance (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating)

·         Housekeeping and laundry

·         Minor medical supervision, such as assistance with medication

·         Health and exercise programs

·         Social, cultural and educational activities

·         Transportation for shopping, recreation, and visits to physicians and pharmacies

Some facilities also offer recreation rooms, exercise rooms, outdoor gardens, libraries, or chapels.

Nursing Homes: Nursing homes are facilities with Registered Nurses and medical staff that provide 24-hour care to people who can no longer care for themselves due to physical, emotional, or mental conditions. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. These facilities provide short-term rehabilitation (physical therapy) as well as long-term skilled nursing care for people with chronic ailments or disabilities that require daily attention of nurses as well as help with custodial care such as bathing or dressing or getting around. A nursing home was once known as an old folks’ home or retirement facility and today may be called a convalescent hospital, skilled nursing facility, or rest home.

Nursing Homes/Skilled Nursing Facilities offer an array of services, in addition to the basic skilled nursing care and the custodial care.

They generally include:

·         A clean, furnished room (private or shared)

·         Dietary services: nutritious meals and snacks

·         Housekeeping and linen service

·         Custodial care (including incontinence care)

·         Resident evaluation and care planning

·         Therapeutic recreation and activities

·         Transportation

For an additional fee, many nursing homes provide: rehabilitation services including occupational, physical, and respiratory and speech therapy; pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services; dental services; and laundry service.

Some Skilled Nursing Facilities can handle special needs such as: Kidney dialysis treatment; Alzheimer's and dementia care; respiratory care; Parkinson's care; terminal illnesses (Hospice Care in cooperation with a separate Hospice agency that visits the facility to provide specialized care); and chronic psychiatric care.

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TheSavvySeniorOnline.com was created as a resource for folks who are retiring to Williamsburg, VA and surrounding areas on the Virginia Peninsula and in the Historic Triangle.  You can search active adult communities, 55+ communities, age restricted communities, as well as homes for sale with first floor master bedrooms, or homes all one story or level.  We know where the best buys are for creating a maintenance free lifestyle!

The Liz Moore Senior Team understands the special needs of those who are downsizing, and we have a variety of resources to help you with auctions, estate sales, consignment, de-cluttering and every phase of getting your home ready to sell.  Be sure to ask us about our free e-book for seniors interested in downsizing!

You can reach us at 757-873-2707 in Newport News and 757-645-4106 in Williamsburg.  Just ask for the Liz Moore Senior Team!