Senior Living can be a difficult experience to navigate and the numerous options can feel overwhelming. There are various types of care and communities available for our aging populations. Finding the best fit for you and your family’s needs is the most important. Once you know the type of care that would fit your needs, you can begin to narrow your choice of communities based on location, amenities, and budget. Below are explanations of the types of care or communities you may see referenced as you begin your journey into senior living. While there are definitions below, it is valuable to inquire with a community to learn how they define a certain type of care and what services are included with that care.

CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) – These communities gather all levels of care into one community. They are part independent living, part assisted living, and part skilled nursing facility.

Memory Care – Memory care communities are usually part of a larger community but are specifically for people suffering from dementia. These communities typically have a higher number of staff for additional supervision and extra security features to prevent residents from wandering unsupervised.

Skilled Nursing/Nursing Home – This option is for older adults who need 24-hour supervised care with meals, activities, and health management. A Skilled Nursing Community must meet criteria for accreditation established for the basis for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement. Skilled Nursing Care includes rehabilitation and various medical and nursing procedures.

Assisted Living –  An assisted living community typically combines apartment style housing, organized social interaction, and private duty support services as needed. This option is for older adults who can live somewhat independently, but require some assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management, or physical assistance with bathing, dressing, and transportation.

Independent Living – Independent Living is a senior living option that is designed to enable independent seniors to enjoy an active lifestyle in a community of their peers. It typically involves apartment-style housing, freestanding homes, or condominiums for an age restricted community of residents.

Adult Day Care Centers – This care option is typically used to relieve the caregiver of his or her duties for the day while ensuring that the care recipient will still receive the proper care in a safe, friendly environment. These centers usually operate during normal business hours five days a week, and some centers also offer additional services during evenings and weekends. In general, there are three main types of adult day care centers: those that focus primarily on social interaction, those that provide medical care, and those dedicated to Alzheimer’s care. Many of these centers are affiliated with other organizations, including home care agencies, skilled nursing facilities, medical centers, or other senior service providers.

Respite Care – Respite care facilities can take many forms. In general, they are assisted living or skilled nursing communities that cater to individuals who need care for a short amount of time. Respite care is a helpful option for those recovering from surgery or a serious illness. It is also good for giving caregivers a much-needed break from the demands of caring for someone else.

Hospice Care – Hospice is a type of care for those with a terminal or life-limiting illnesses. People may receive hospice care in their own home or in a skilled nursing community. Hospice focuses on providing services like pain management to make the person’s life as comfortable as possible. Hospice is for someone who decides to transition to care that treats symptoms instead of fighting a disease.