The term “senior living” is a commonly used phrase that encompasses a wide range of living options and care types. It’s easy for seniors or adult children to become frustrated in trying to make sense of it’s many segments. Let’s take a closer look at the pieces that make up the senior living “puzzle”.
1) Retirement Communities. Retirement communities or “55+ communities” are designed specifically for seniors who are active and widely self-sufficient. The most distinguishing factor for these communities are that they consists of a conglomerate of single-family homes that are able to be bought and sold like any other home. The community leaders provide a wide variety of services, activities, and social programs and the property is usually surrounded by golf courses and dotted with social centers.
2) Independent Living. Retirement communities and independent living facilities are closely related but easily confused simply because they both consist of seniors that are largely independent. However, as a general rule, independent living is most commonly meant to describe a living arrangement involving rentable apartments or detached condos on a common property. Again, there may be surrounding golf courses and social centers complete with prearranged activities but this style of senior living is much more service oriented – much like a hotel. House cleaning and laundry services, for instance, are provided. The resident is not responsible for yard maintenance and meals are provided if the resident prefers. Also, there are administrators on the property at all times in the event of an emergency.
3) Assisted Living Home Care. Assisted living homes are residential facilities that provide care for up to ten residents at a time. They are licensed and regulated by the Department of Health who audits them periodically. Within assisted living home care, there are 3 levels of care a facility may be licensed for: Supervisory, Personal or Directed. Perhaps the best analogy to convey the 3 differences is with the act of brushing teeth. That is, supervisory care is being present and mindful that a resident is brushing their teeth. Personal care would be where a caregiver prepares the toothbrush and water for the resident, and directed care would be where the caregiver is hands-on actually brushing a resident’s teeth. With that in mind, take a look at a more defined explanation of the 3 care levels.
- Supervisory Care can best be characterized as general supervision. Caregivers have daily awareness of the resident’s functioning and continuing needs, while having the ability to intervene in an emergency. Medication management and assistance in the self-administration of medications are included as well.
- Personal Care goes a bit further than supervisory. It relates to what the state defines as “assistance with activities of daily living that can be performed by persons without professional skills or professional training”. Personal care would include things like coordinating intermittent nursing services or the administration of medications and treatments by a licensed nurse.
- Directed Care is the highest level of care a residential care home can be licensed for and may include memory care as well (see memory care below). It includes personal care services and is designed to provide protection to those who are incapable of summoning assistance, recognizing danger or able to understand their own pressing needs.
There are close to 2,000 of these locations in the greater Phoenix, AZ metroplex and that number is continually on the rise. Like any industry, there are excellent care homes and not-so-good ones. You’ll need to do your homework. Luckily, Transitions Assisted Living, LLC has done the work for you and offer their services free to you as their fee is covered by their participating partners.
4) Assisted Living Centers. Assisted living centers are commercial care facilities that care for 11 or more residents. Generally speaking, they are larger facilities caring for over 100 residents and offer private rooms that feed into large common areas. They too must be licensed for the 3 levels of care outlined above (supervisory, personal, and directed). Though assisted living centers offer a great deal including more social opportunities, they have differing amenities, price ranges, and price adjustments.
5) Nursing Homes. The term “nursing home” has become a generic term that people use whenever it has been determined that nursing services are needed. However, it can mean one of two different things: skilled nursing facilities or nursing home care. Nursing homes are defined by the government as “Skilled nursing facilities”. Skilled nursing facilities provide 24 hour skilled nursing services, and have a doctor on call at all times. Many confuse skilled nursing facilities with “Nursing home care” which is used to indicate the need for skilled nursing services but not necessarily the need for continual nurse oversight. Some people immediately assume that because their loved one is in need of skilled nursing services that they must look strictly for a skilled nursing facility that provides 24 hour skilled medical services. Depending on the situation, that may not be necessary. Intermittent nursing services are an option for those not in need of 24 hour nursing services and can be provided at many assisted living facilities. Caregivers may not be skilled nurses but they are open to scheduling skilled nursing or physician visits that can satisfy the needs of their residents.
6) Memory Care. Memory care is among the highest level of care available today. It is designed specifically for those suffering from such things as dementia or Alzheimers. Today there are many facilities who cater specifically to those suffering from memory impairment of some kind and have features such as private apartments and secured common areas for safety. Planned activities are often provided as well in order to support their resident’s quality of life.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where you or your loved one fits into the differing segments of senior living. Transitions Assisted Living understands how important it is to find that right location for your loved one. They have been serving seniors for years and offer their expertise free to you. Hopefully this has helped you better understand where your loved one fits into the puzzle of senior living.