With so many choices in senior living and health care services, getting started can be the hardest part. Whether you’re doing long-range retirement planning or seeking to resolve an immediate health care situation, it is important to start with a clear understanding of the most current definitions of senior housing and health care services as you begin your search.
Independent Living is a house or apartment designed specifically for older adults who are able to manage their homes and daily activities without supervision or medical assistance. Independent living can be offered as a stand-alone residence, such as a senior apartment building, or as part of a larger community with a wide range of services, such as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
Assisted Living offers residency that is a middle ground between independent living and nursing care. Assisted living is a good choice for those who do not require the extensive medical care provided in nursing care but are not able to manage living on their own. Staff is available to provide 24-hour comprehensive assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, eating, mobility and hygiene. Assisted living may be available as a stand-alone community or as part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
Nursing Care communities are licensed by the state and offer furnished rooms and health care to residents who require consistent and ongoing medical care with physician oversight, yet do not require hospitalization. There are three levels of nursing care: skilled, intermediate, and custodial.
Skilled care is the highest level of service. It must be prescribed by a physician and may only be performed by or under the supervision of technical personnel, such as a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, or physical therapist.
Intermediate care is less intensive than skilled care and is appropriate for individuals who do not need 24-hour attention.
Custodial care is appropriate once specific technical personnel are not needed for daily care but the individual is not likely to make further significant improvement
A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers older adults the ability to “age in place” by providing independent living, assisted living and nursing care accommodations, usually on the same property, with the ability to transfer between these residences as needs change in the future. A CCRC typically provides independent living residents with a service package designed to provide a carefree lifestyle. Transportation, activities, interior and exterior maintenance, flexible dining services and utilities are just a few of the services available at many CCRCs.
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