Along your journey with your parents you’ve undoubtedly considered housing and care options that may need to happen.  You’ve heard terms like “long term care facility”, “nursing home”,  “independent living” or “assisted living”.

Although they each involve relocating your loved one from their current home into a community or facility, there are differences between them and the levels of care they can provide.

Let’s look at the definitions of each and perhaps it can help you navigate to the option that’s best for you!

Independent Living:

Independent senior living communities are housing designed for seniors 55 and older. These communities commonly provide apartments, but some also offer cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes.

Independent Living is for seniors who are able to live on their own in an apartment or house, but who want the conveniences of living within a community.

The residents are usually offered services and amenities such as

  • housekeeping
  • social activities
  • dining
  • transportation
  • security
  • the option of assistance with daily tasks or medical care if they need it later on.

They provide little to no maintenance or yard work and allow access to meals and activities.  Remaining socially active and engaged is another important benefit that is often missing in the lives of older adults.

The costs of independent living communities differ based on the size of the community, its location and other factors. In many instances, the cost of living in an independent living community ranges between $1,500 and $10,000 per month.

Assisted Living

Like independent living communities, assisted living communities are designed for seniors who prioritize independence. However, assisted living communities typically offer extra assistance for seniors who need help performing everyday activities, such as bathing, dressing and taking medications.

A standard assisted living community includes anywhere from 25 to 120 condo or apartment units, and each unit includes a single room. Residents can access three meals per day in a common area, and on-site staff is available 24 hours a day to assist residents.

Additionally, independent living communities often host daily, weekly or monthly events and activities to help residents stay active and connect with one another.

Assisted living community fees vary, and they may increase year after year. According to Retirement Living, the median price for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment with a single occupant was $3,700 per month in 2019.

Long Term Care Facility (aka: Nursing Home)

Some seniors can no longer remain at home. When they require 24-hour nursing care and monitoring they’re often admitted to a nursing home, also known as a long-term care center. These nursing homes provide their patients with assistance in an institutional environment.

Nursing Homes are designed for seniors who are unable to take care of themselves. They cater to those who require short-term rehabilitative care or suffer from chronic health problems.

They feature:

  • housekeeping staff
  • laundry care
  • cleaning
  • food service team to provide residents with food and snacks throughout the day
  • skilled nurses and healthcare staff on-site.

It is typically a safe environment for seniors who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other serious health conditions. Meanwhile, a nursing home offers round-the-clock service, ensuring residents are fully supported at all times.

On average, the cost of a private room in a nursing home is $219 per day, and the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $198 per day, Senior Living reports.  Medicaid does pay for the costs of a nursing home if you qualify.  Medicaid actually pays for seven out of 10 nursing home residents.

Comparatively, Medicare does not generally cover nursing home costs. This results in thousands of dollars paid from savings to provide this type of care.  For more information, see my post “Brace for Impact: Nursing Homes are Cash-Pay Until You’re Medicaid Eligible”

Do What’s Best for You

There is no one-size-fits-all senior living community. Each individual is different, as well as their needs and circumstances.  Taking the time to tour different facilities can give you the answers you need.  The more information you have, the better decision you’ll make!

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