UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INDEPENDENT LIVING, ASSISTED LIVING, MEMORY CARE AND SKILLED NURSING
Independent Senior Living- These apartment setting communities for people 55+ are generally for those who do not require assistance with activities of daily living. Most of these residents maintain their driver’s license and care for pets. All Independent livings communities offer different amenities and programs. Many include an activities program or socials and meals in a dining room. Some may have laundry services, transportation, housekeeping and other amenities such as a pool or gym. Larger companies may have Independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing communities on one campus, so your loved one can graduate to a high care community as their needs progress.
When my grandmother could no longer keep her home in order, Independent living was the perfect fit for her. She was able to maintain her dignity, her dog and her car. There were plenty of social programs and we were comforted knowing she wasn’t making herself the same peanut butter toast for every meal of the day. The community was essentially an apartment complex with socials and a dining room. We paid for a housekeeper to clean her apartment once a week and resident were supposed to use their own vehicles for transportation. The common areas were maintained, however a resident had to submit a request for apartment repairs.
Assisted Living- Apartment setting communities that assist with activities of daily living including hygiene, prepared meal, and laundry and medication assistance. There is generally a full time activities program, a hair salon and other amenities for the residents to enjoy. These communities have an RN available, but not on staff around the clock.
Memory Care-These communities provide all of the same services that an assisted living provides, but specialize in caring for resident with dementia. The communities are generally smaller and have a higher staff to resident ratio. A good activities program is based on sensory stimulation.
Skilled Nursing- Hospital setting communities that employ doctors and have around the clock registered nurses on staff. This type of community assists those that need attention that only an around the clock nursing staff can provide.
Respite Care- This service if for caregivers that need temporary care for their loved one. A person may stay at an assisted living for up to fourteen days, before actually having to move into the community permanently. This service is great for spouses acting as primary caregivers and need a vacation etc…Regulations may vary state to state. Some assisted living communities specializing in memory care often offer some type of “adult day care” programs as well.
Home Health and Hospice agencies- These agencies offer additional caregiver support, at home or at an assisted living community. These services may be covered by Medicaid. Home health allows people to prolong their move to an assisted living and helps residents that need additional care at an assisted living prolong their move to a skilled nursing community. Hospice agencies focus on care for residents that are actively dying or near the end of life. Their focus is on palliative care such as pain management and comfort. They are also a great resource, helping families prepare for the loss of their loved one.
CCRC- Continuing Care Retirement Communities. These are communities that offer assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing at one location or campus.