Do you understand the difference between Active Living and Assisted Living? Do you know how a Continuing Care Community differs from a Nursing Home? Unless you’ve been around the senior housing industry for a while, you’re likely to be confused about all the various care alternatives available. Just learning the different names from one living option to the next can seem overwhelming. So, if you’re setting out to research living options for a loved one, learning the terminology is always a good place to begin.
The following guide will help you discover the differences between senior care levels—and help you make an informed decision.
Active Living communities attract healthy and independent individuals among the 55-and-over demographic who simply prefer living among their own age group. Active Living offers a variety of housing options, from single-family homes or townhouses to apartments and villas. Amenities such as clubhouses, workout centers, restaurant-style dining, and planned social outings contribute to an active lifestyle.
Independent Living is especially designed for empty nesters seeking active, maintenance-free lifestyles. Housing options include private apartments, villas, and single-story houses. Housekeeping, meal preparation, local transportation, social and cultural activities, and property maintenance are usually covered for an all-inclusive, monthly fee. Independent Living lets residents focus on what they enjoy most, while staff handles everything else.
As the name implies, Assisted Living offers a hand to individuals who might be struggling with everyday activities. Having professionals available to help them with bathing, dressing, cooking, housekeeping, transportation, or taking medication, allows residents to maintain their independence longer. Assisted Living communities typically offer apartment-style accommodations and around-the-clock care.
Nursing Homes provide 24-hour skilled care for those requiring short or long-term medical assistance. Licensed nurses and trained assistants provide health monitoring and intervention, along with help performing basic daily activities. Services include physical, occupational, and speech therapies for patients recovering from injury, illness, or surgery. Most resident rooms are semi-private, and meals are served in a central dining hall.
Hospice Care helps terminally ill patients and their families deal with end-of-life issues. Hospice Care can be provided at home, in long-term care centers, in nursing homes, in assisted living communities, or in hospitals. To qualify for hospice, an individual must typically have a terminal diagnosis with a prognosis for six months or less. Some providers offer palliative care—also called comfort care—earlier in the disease process.
Life Plan Communities
Life Plan Communities (formerly called Continuing Care Communities) offer all the same social, recreational, and cultural features found in other independent-living communities. However, in a continuum-of-care model, residents who move in at the independent-living level get priority access to assisted-living or nursing care later should their health or abilities decline. Life Plan Communities allow residents to essentially “age in place.”
Memory Care facilities offer around-the-clock support for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Residents with memory impairments need specialized structure to ensure their physical safety while improving their overall quality of life. Memory Care is delivered in Assisted Living or Nursing Home settings, as well as in nursing homes and occasionally in personal care homes.
Residential Care facilities are private homes with small numbers of residents living together with support from live-in caretakers. Residential Care offers assistance to those desiring a more private, home-like setting. While services vary greatly between homes, help with daily living activities—such as hygiene, cooking, and transportation—are normally provided.
Respite Care involves short-term stays within Assisted Living, Nursing Home, or Memory Care facilities that provide much-needed respite care for primary caregivers. Because Respite stays last anywhere from a day to a month, they often serve as trials to determine how potential residents will fare long term at the facility.
Inpatient Rehabilitation is for patients convalescing after surgery or recovering from a long-term illness. Prescribed by physicians, Inpatient Rehabilitation services range from neurological therapy for clients recovering from strokes to physical therapy for joint and mobility issues. Inpatient Rehabilitation reduces the likelihood of injuries from traveling daily to and from outpatient centers.