Senior Living Options Today

Long gone are the days when senior housing conjured up images of living alone at home or moving into nursing home facilities that felt more like hospitals for the old.

Since the late 1980s, the concept of senior housing has evolved from medical care for the elderly to one of providing services to allow the aging to live with more independence. And in the last two decades, that concept has further evolved to accommodate lifestyle and quality of life choices, focusing not just on senior “living” but “living well.”

Today, senior living is all about choice: in accommodations, activities, fitness, food, and healthcare.

Options for Independent Seniors

Independent seniors who are active can consider these types of senior living options:

1. Senior Apartments

Target: These apartments are for independent adults aged 55 and over

Offerings: Apartments are designed to be accessible with seniors in mind. Services can range from a typical luxury building (doorman, elevator, gym) to providing transportation or access to social services

Housing: Apartments can range from luxury accommodations with high-end finishes to low-income housing

Payment: Monthly rental

2. Age-Restricted Communities

AKA “retirement communities,” “active adult communities,” “55+ communities.”

Target: These types of communities target independent, healthy adults aged 55 and over and promote an active, low-maintenance lifestyle among peers

Offerings: Typically, they are amenity-rich, offering well-appointed clubhouses with on-site pools, tennis courts and/or golf course. Services may include home maintenance, landscaping, etc.

Housing: Styles range from single family detached homes, townhouses, cottages, bungalows, to condominiums.

Payment: These homes are for sale with a monthly community fee

3. Independent Living

Target: Independent seniors who are typically aged 65 and over who desire a higher level of service and activities

Offerings: These communities provide dining, fitness programs, social hours, continuing education, and a calendar of activities to suit interests, along with housekeeping/laundry, and home maintenance

Housing: Styles range from single family detached homes, townhouses, cottages, bungalows, to apartments with full-sized kitchens and often with washer/dryer

Payment: Monthly rental

Options for Seniors Who Need Assistance

When seniors need help with daily living activities or with healthcare, there are many options available, depending on the level and type of care needed:

1. Home Care

Target: Seniors who need help with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, dressing, cooking and who want to remain in their current home

Offerings: Certified home aides or personal care aides can assist with daily activities. Visiting nurses can provide medical services.

Housing: Current home

Payment: Hourly

2. Residential Care Homes

AKA “Group Homes,” “Adult Homes,” or “Rest Homes”

Target: Seniors who need assistance with daily activities around the clock in a smaller, more intimate community

Offerings: Aides or caretakes are available 24 hours a day and can assist with bathing, grooming, cooking, errands. Amenities and nursing services can vary.

Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms within a home environment

Payment: Monthly rental

3. Assisted Living

Target: Seniors who need varying levels of assistance with daily activities and who would like more of a community

Offerings: Services include all meals, housekeeping, laundry, scheduled transportation for errands, wellness programs with a daily calendar of activities and events. Additional levels of assistance can be provided depending on need – from medication management, incontinence care, bathing, grooming, dressing, etc. Care staff is available 24 hours a day with on-site nurses and/or scheduled doctor visits. Some communities can coordinate with hospice care so that aging in place would be possible. Many amenities are often provided including common living rooms, dining room, library, movie theater/media room, arts and crafts room, fitness room, etc.

Housing: Several options available including studios/1 bedroom/2 bedroom apartments or with kitchenettes (smaller refrigerator, sink, and microwave), private or shared suites.

Payment: Monthly rental

4. Memory Care

AKA “Alzheimer’s/Dementia care”

Target: Seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia

Offerings: Memory Care Services are similar to Assisted Living but residents receive a higher level of care for their Alzheimer’s or dementia. Residences have an extra level of security to prevent wandering, along with regular safety checks. The calendar of activities and events are designed to improve memory and cognition

Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms, private or shared suites, and studio apartments with kitchenettes

Payment: Monthly rental

5. Skilled Nursing

Target: Often a short-term solution for seniors who need access to 24-hour medical care in addition to assistance with daily living activities, as they recover from a recent hospitalization due to a serious illness or injury

Offerings: Licensed and registered nurses are available on-site 24 hours a day to provide medical care. Services include all meals, housekeeping, laundry. Additional levels of assistance can be provided depending on need – from medication management, incontinence care, toileting, bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, etc. Some communities can coordinate with hospice care so that aging in place would be possible.

Housing: Private or shared rooms, with shared bathrooms

Payment: Daily rates

6. Continuing Care Retirement Communities

AKA "CCRCs" or “Life Plan Communities”

Target: Independent seniors who recognize that they may need increasing levels of care and assistance as they age and would prefer to age in place

Offerings: Amenities and services will cover Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing

Housing: Single family homes, townhouses, cottages, apartments (from studios to 2-bedrooms) in Independent Living to apartments with kitchenettes in Assisted Living to studios or private suites in Memory care to private or shared rooms in Skilled Nursing

Payment: One-time buy-in fee upfront with monthly community fees

The choices can be overwhelming but one thing for sure is that they all respond to today’s seniors who demand to focus on LIVING rather than simply aging.

Which Senior Living Option is Best for You? Kithward can help.