Types of Senior Living Options

There are many choices when it comes to the best care options for seniors. We’ll help you or your loved ones make the best choice based on your unique circumstances and needs by covering different communities in order from least to most assistance needed. 

We know that this can be a tough decision to make. Just know that there are many wonderful ways to spend your golden years in style and with the right level of care.

What Are My Senior Care Options?

Unless you or your loved one requires specialized care, there are four main options for senior living communities:

  • Independent Living (IL)
  • Assisted Living (AL)
  • Skilled Nursing (SN)
  • Memory Care (MC)

We’ll examine each in more detail, including the living arrangements, the level of care or assistance included, the general cost, and more.

Independent Living

Independent living (IL) offers seniors the opportunity to maintain an active and independent lifestyle in a vibrant community setting.

Least Assistance Required

In IL communities, seniors typically require minimal assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), if any at all. While on-site health care is available when needed, IL focuses more on fostering a social community where residents can enjoy autonomy and freedom. Many IL communities provide emergency call buttons for residents to wear and have check-in measures in place, offering peace of mind to loved ones.

What’s Included With Independent Living

Independent living is similar to living in an apartment community. It offers seniors a variety of housing options, such as studios, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom apartments, as well as separate cottages or townhouses. These apartments come fully equipped with kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms, providing seniors with complete independence. Dining plans are often available, or residents can choose to pay for meals individually or cook for themselves. 

Most IL communities offer amenities such as:

  • Shuttle services to supermarkets or malls
  • Transportation for medical appointments
  • Field trips
  • On-site events, such as movie nights, guest lecturers, or parties
  • Cocktail hours
  • Book clubs, gardening clubs, or other clubs
  • Gyms
  • Housekeeping services
  • Landscaping and seasonal services

What’s Not Included With Independent Living

While essential utilities like electricity and heating/cooling are typically included, residents may need to pay for personal extras like WiFi and cable TV. Laundry service may or may not be included, with some communities offering washers and dryers in individual units.

Cost of Independent Living

Independent living is often the least expensive senior living option compared to assisted living or other care levels because it requires the least amount of personal care.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a community that helps seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). They get the support they need while still being able to do almost everything independently. 

Some Assistance Required

The level of care provided in AL varies based on individual needs, which may include:

  • Reminders to take medications
  • Help with getting into and out of bed
  • Help with dressing, bathing, or other personal care
  • Encouragement to eat and socialize

What’s Included With Assisted Living

Assisted living communities provide services and amenities that are similar to those offered in independent living (IL) but with the additional assistance of professional care when required. This option is ideal for family members who acknowledge that their senior loved ones are primarily self-reliant but may benefit from regular check-ins by skilled professionals. In AL, residents generally must check in and out when they leave the building, even for activities within the community. Housing options usually include studios or one-bedroom apartments.

Cost of Assisted Living

Due to the additional care provided, AL tends to be more expensive than IL. The cost reflects the level of assistance and services tailored to meet the individual needs of residents in AL communities.

Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing (SN) facilities, previously known as nursing homes, have transformed into healthcare centers that offer seniors a wide range of medical care and rehabilitation services. While some seniors stay at these facilities for years, others may only need to be there for a short period of time while they recover from an injury.

Highest Level of Care

Skilled nursing is usually necessary in two situations: when a senior needs a facility to recuperate from an injury, with the possibility of undergoing physical therapy before returning to IL or AL, or when a loved one requires a higher level of care than AL, but doesn’t need Memory Care (which we will discuss later). 

What’s Included With Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing facilities provide round-the-clock monitoring, help with all personal care needs, and regular on-site visits with doctors and specialists. They also arrange for specialized medical transportation for off-site medical appointments. The rooms in SN are typically shared, and residents may require a doctor’s clearance to leave the premises, along with sign-in and sign-out procedures.

Cost of Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing care can be expensive due to its hospital-like environment and round-the-clock medical supervision. The costs associated with SN reflect the intensive level of care and specialized services provided to residents.

Memory Care

Memory care (MC) is a specialized form of residential care designed for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It provides tailored support and a secure environment.

Specialized Care

Memory care facilities offer an extra level of security to prevent residents from wandering and ensure their safety. Staff members are extensively trained to understand and address the specific needs and challenges faced by individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

What’s Included With Memory Care

Memory care includes specialized activities and games designed to stimulate cognitive function and keep residents engaged. Consistent routines help create a sense of familiarity and comfort. Additionally, MC staff assist with medication management, meals, personal care, and other daily tasks tailored to each resident’s needs.

Cost of Memory Care

Memory care is often one of the most expensive forms of care due to the intensive level of specialized care and supervision required. The costs associated with MC reflect the specialized services, safety measures, and trained staff dedicated to supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

Paying For Senior Care

Paying for senior care living options can be done through various means, including:

It is essential to review your loved one’s Medicare and state Medicaid policies to understand their potential financial assistance options.

Live Your Best Life With New Perspective

New Perspective offers communities for every stage of life. We have thriving community options in several states throughout the Midwest so that seniors and their families can stay close together.

Try a virtual tour to see what we’re like, or contact us today for an in-person visit.