When a senior living community combines all levels of care, it is known as a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC.
CCRC’s offer everything from independent and assisted living to memory support, rehabilitation and long term skilled nursing care all under one roof or on one campus, helping seniors move through the continuum of care as their needs change. There may be an entrance or community fee, plus a monthly fee, to live in these communities.
For-profit senior living communities often divide profits among their shareholders.
Not-for-profit senior living communities, on the other hand, do not have to pay owners or shareholders and typically invest back into their community to improve or expand services for their residents. Many not-for-profit communities are affiliated with religious denominations or fraternal organizations. They may also partner with governmental agencies to help serve elders. Finally, most not-for-profit organizations will not ask you to leave if you outlive your financial resources as many for-profits do.
Elders who reside in independent living communities can continue their daily activities as they always have in their own homes, but generally enjoy the additional services and amenities offered by their community. They may cook their own meals, do their own laundry, clean their own living spaces, or any number of other tasks with very little to no assistance. Many independent living communities have life enrichment programs, transportation, and other support services. Sometimes elders may hire additional help for certain tasks, but that help is not necessary to carry out daily living tasks.
Independent living can consist of apartments, condominiums, or freestanding homes. These communities may accept adults of any age, usually 55 or older. Many residents describe them as a cross between a college, resort hotel, and summer camp, rather than a place to slow down and grow old.
Generally, assisted living is for seniors who may need extra help to complete some or many daily living tasks. Examples include preparing meals, taking medications, getting dressed, bathing, or grooming.
Assisted living options can range from providing limited assistance to providing 24-hour care. The cost will vary depending on the individual’s needs and services required, as a caregiver’s time will be billed to the resident.
While assisted living services offer help with activities of daily living, personal care services offer more skilled nursing services as part of their oversight of residents. Most provide essential health services and medication management but don’t offer advanced life support. Residents often have their own apartment homes or private rooms within the community and are free to move about their days as they see fit.
Also referred to as memory support, Alzheimer’s care, or dementia care, memory care centers offer round-the-clock support for those who have memory difficulties and can no longer complete daily tasks on their own. Programs typically include specialized activities and specially trained staff. Many memory care centers in nursing homes are secured environments to discourage residents from wandering outside unescorted.
Skilled care and rehabilitation facilities usually provide care similar to that of a hospital. Skilled care is typically the highest level of care that can be delivered outside of a medical setting.
Services are provided under the direction of a licensed physician and may include physical or occupational therapy. These stays may be of a shortened duration, ranging from 20 to 100 days. The cost of a short-term stay is generally covered by private insurance or Medicare. Long-term skilled nursing — often called a nursing home — provide round-the-clock skilled nursing on an ongoing basis.