What is Senior Living?

What Is Senior Living and When Is the Right Time?

There are many misconceptions surrounding the term “senior living” as some people tend to picture nursing homes instead of thriving, independent communities full of culture, socialization, and fun! Here at Caring Advisor, our representatives want to clear up these misconceptions as you start the journey of choosing the senior care option that is right for you or your loved one. 

What Does Senior Living Mean?

In general, senior living is a term used to describe a wide range of living options available to older adults who may have certain needs present themselves as they continue to age. When they can’t meet those requirements in their own home anymore, they may choose to live in a residential community that provides services and amenities that cover those needs. 

The difference between these different types of care options is that retirement communities or nursing homes are usually about the physical care of a patient; meanwhile, senior living is about just that—LIVING! 

Senior living values quality of life and wellness above all else! Care facilities and living apartments that identify themselves under the senior living umbrella usually offer amenities such as full-service dining, housekeeping, transportation, and 24-hour staff; however, there’s also a strong emphasis on providing a well-rounded schedule of social, educational, and cultural opportunities as well. Family members are encouraged to visit their loved ones in senior living communities, but check with your facility of choice as the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed their regulations. 

Overall, senior living is a social-based model that acknowledges emotional and social needs on top of ensuring residents receive sufficient physical care in order to stay happy and healthy. 

Levels of Senior Living Explained

There are many different levels of senior living options, and moving between these levels depends on when your needs change. Generally, the four options include: 

  1. Short-Term Care – As the name suggests, this type of care is meant for seniors who need to live in a secure environment with access to medical staff for a non-permanent amount of time. In many scenarios, a senior may be living with a loved one who is providing them with home care and health maintenance. When the senior undergoes surgery or gets sick, the loved one does not have the resources available in their family home to properly look after them while they recover, therefore, short-term care becomes necessary. Another common scenario is simply when the caregiver is leaving town and needs a caring community that they can trust to look after their loved one for a period of time.
  2. Independent Living –  This level of care is meant for an independent senior who values the freedom of not requiring round-the-clock medical care, but may still access it should the need arise. Plus, residents get all of the benefits of living on their own in a senior apartment while still participating in community social activities and partaking in amenities such as dining programs, housekeeping, transportation, and more. 
  3. Assisted Living – This level of care may be most closely related to nursing homes, but they are still drastically different. For example, healthcare is provided by medical professionals at an assisted living site, but it is not the sole focus of the facility. Instead, the entire trained staff can also help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, medication management, shopping, or other personal care items. In addition to skilled nursing and assistance with daily activities, this type of facility also offers a range of wellness opportunities to cater to the whole person—both physical and mental— during their stay.
  4. Memory Care – This type of care is meant for seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related illnesses. It works the same as assisted living in that residents can have assistance with ADLs as well as access to skilled nursing; however, these types of centers recognize that memory-impaired patients have a unique set of needs that may require more care and attention.

Difference Between Senior Living and Assisted Living

Many people may think that senior living and assisted living are different things, when the reality is that senior living is an umbrella term that covers assisted living communities and others as well. 

There are many different types of senior living that can differ dramatically from one to the next. For example, assisted living facilities are different from independent living communities in that they offer a bit more assistance with ADLs on top of a range of skilled nursing options. Independent living, on the other hand, simply gives residents access to medical care while still allowing them to maintain a certain level of independence which they value. 

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is another senior living option in which residents can benefit from both memory care and assisted living nursing care in order to avoid moving facilities when their needs change. 

Whatever type of senior living option you choose, all of them offer medical care and emotional support for aging individuals with specific needs in order to improve their quality of life and extend their independence.

How Does Senior Housing Work? 

Senior housing options are available to adults typically over the age of 55 who not only have certain needs to fulfill as they grow older, but are also looking for the best way to live their life to the fullest. The way it works is that when a senior or their loved one recognize that they would benefit from additional assistance —whether that’s a lot or a little assistance— they may come to find out that senior living is the correct solution as it has been for millions across the nation!

Furthermore, the next step after the individual and their caregiver have determined that it’s the right time for long-term care is to find out exactly what level of care is necessary and what facilities can meet those needs. This requires extensive research into all of the senior living options ranging from hands-off places like independent living to high-maintenance places like assisted living. Consultation with the patient’s healthcare professional is key during this stage. Keep in mind the costs while looking at senior living communities as well. For example, the monthly fees and other charges can quickly add up. 

Overall, find out what is most important to you or your loved one, such as care services, visitation policies, proximity, social interaction, wellness, and more. When you know what to look for in a senior housing facility, Caring Advisor can help you choose!

When is the Right Time for Senior Living? Let Us Help You Decide!

Determining when is the right time for senior living is up to you or your loved one! Here are some questions to help get you started. 

Does you or your loved one have:

  • A worsening medical condition, an increased number of falls, or generally increased frailty?
  • Difficulty managing domestic finances or other money problems?
  • Difficulty maintaining the house?
  • Difficulty completing activities of daily living such as cooking, housework, shopping, laundry, etc.?
  • A feeling of isolation?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then senior living could be the next step!

Need more help? Take a look at our resources to learn all there is to know about senior living and which option is right for you. Caring Advisor representatives are here to help you find long-term care you can trust. 

To learn more about our many different communities and the care options we offer, contact Caring Advisor today!