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5 Types of Senior Living and Why You Should Know Them

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Not all senior living facilities are created equal, nor should they be. The senior living options are growing and becoming more specialized to fit the upcoming baby boomer needs, but the options that currently exist are important to consider, as they vary from type-to-type with specific design and amenity options to fit the many and unique needs of the aging population.

It isn’t that someone with growing Alzheimer’s and someone simply wanting to age free of the maintenance and responsibility of living in their own home can’t coexist in the same space, it’s that it's more important no one’s needs are forgotten or overlooked. The special considerations of the aging population shouldn't have to be a burden on living, but they can still cause a lot of stress and road blocks in the daily life of the one living with it and those who encounter it. Knowing the special considerations present and the different types of living available allows you to more easily match with the right situation for you or your loved one.

Independent Living

What is it?

Independent living offers a variety of options from intimate and efficient to spacious and private, all while offering the same peace of mind through a balance of security and independence -- knowing that care and help is there if it is needed. With independent living, you have options, and ultimately, the decision is yours. Two-fold amenities like continental breakfast in a communal clubhouse or an independently-prepared breakfast in the comfort of your own home with your fully-equipped kitchen makes it optimal for those who cherish independence.

Often, these are small-scale communities with a centered social space for activity, so staff and other residents quickly become like family and social events allow you to get to know one another even better. Along with other maintenance-centered amenities like snow removal, housekeeping, lawn and landscaping that take much of household stressors off your plate, the main focus of independent living is to make this chapter of life more enjoyable and carefree.

When looking for independent living options, many variables should be taken into consideration. If you’re ready to begin your search, we recommend reading about Americare’s Top Tips for Scouting Out Independent Living Communities to make the best decision for you or your loved one.

Who is it for?

This option is ideal for those who want to age in a maintenance-free home. Those who begin to feel the burden and exhaustion of daily household responsibilities and would love an extra hand every now and then.

Male senior wearing a hat outside on a beautiful day.

Assisted Living

What is it?

This type of living would be the next step into senior care, much like the independent living that focuses on allowing residents to live a carefree and enjoyable life, assisted living offers just that, with a little bit more companionship, care, and comfort. As certified personnel is on duty 24/7, assistance and care is consistently available; whether it’s help with medications, assistance with bathing or just a shoulder to lean on.

If you’re ready to begin your search, note that there are some important considerations when evaluating assisted living communities as it may seem intimidating or unwelcoming. Independence is very valuable to us, especially as we age, and some elderly are hesitant to give that up, even if seemingly necessary. Assisted living should provide just the right amount of care while still enhancing the independence we all need as humans.

Who is it for?

This type of senior living is perfect for anyone who is simply experiencing that the demands of living in your home require more than you’re willing to give or handle on your own.

Are you caring for a loved one that has lost the ability to care completely for themselves? It is also optimal for anyone who is finding that consistently caring for a loved one is becoming more and more of a burden on their own lives. It doesn’t make you selfish - it makes you human. We all have our own lives to live, and while caring for an aging loved one can seem like the right thing to do, we can all recognize that another helping hand (or a few) can take some of the unnecessary stress and responsibility off our shoulders.

Female resident and female staff member spending time together outside.

Memory Care

What is it?

A good memory care facility is specifically designed to cater to individuals dealing with the most common issue we experience as we age: memory loss and impairment. With the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as its effects on the quality of life, it is important to ensure that those who experience these progressive diseases and problems are properly taken care of.

Memory Care Assisted Living does just as it says, it provides the assistance necessary for those who need it as they grow less equipped to independently take on daily living tasks and basic functions, as well as specialized care by a well-trained staff and care team to assist memory loss, impairment, disease and decline in overall cognitive function. When looking for this specific type of living, there are special considerations you should account for when evaluating and researching facilities.

Who is it for?

As you’ve probably come to know by now, Memory Care is for anyone that experiences any type of decline, impairment, or loss in cognitive function and memory, especially those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Often, they go hand-in-hand with an inability or unwillingness to perform and execute basic functions of daily living, which make memory care the optimal options for someone experiencing all of the above.

Much like assisted living, this option can be helpful for anyone caring for a loved one that experiences any sort of cognitive or memory dysfunction or disease and is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by the responsibility and task that comes along with caring for such loved one.

Related: What is it like to attend an Alzheimer's support group meeting?

Female senior holding two old black and white photographs of a young man and young woman.

Skilled Nursing

What is it?

This type of facility offers the comfort of in-home living while simultaneously providing the advanced medical skills of a hospital for those who need rehabilitation services.

These services can include:

They are staffed and occupied by Registered Nurses (RN’s), physical, speech, and occupational therapists. Whether it’s short or long-term care, plans and the care provided are customized to best fit the unique needs of each individual. This type of living proves that home-like comfort can still exist when your needs advance, requiring a level of care that offers an around-the-clock helping hand. Skilled nursing facilities balance their specialized care and comforting touch with the preservation of individual dignity and encouragement of self-sufficiency.

Who is it for?

Skilled Nursing is for those who are experiencing a need for rehabilitation due to:

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapies
  • Restorative nursing programs
  • Medication management
  • Diabetic management
  • Intravenous (IV) therapy

Other specialized programs and services

  • General physical decline or weakness
  • Terminal illness
  • Diabetic rehabilitation
  • Stroke recovery
  • Acute medical conditions
  • Respiratory care
  • Parkinson’s care
  • General wound care
  • Fracture or joint replacement

When life hands us these health related issues that demand extra help and assistance, skilled nursing is there to help. At Americare, we recognize the importance of security and peace of mind in this decision. We know it is a journey filled with mixed emotions and uncertainties -- that’s why, when it’s time, we will guide you through the process, go over every decision, and evaluate every request.

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