The decision to transition a family member into a senior living community requires careful consideration and thoughtful planning and involves a fair amount of dedicated research to find the facility that will provide safety and security with a sense of home and offer all the care, programs, and social activities that a senior desires for a full life and a strong sense of overall health and well-being.
Independent living is typically a priority for aging adults and family members as they consider the type of assisted living facility that best fulfills their loved one’s care needs and preferences. Various types of senior living facilities provide independence and freedom, along with care and assistance from the trained staff as needed by each resident.
The health, medical needs, and personality of a senior will help determine which type of facility will most mimic their home life and social patterns before entering assisted living. So what are the different types of senior living facilities? It’s important to understand when making this important life decision with a senior loved one.
Types of Senior Living Facilities
There are different types of senior living facilities, each designed to cater to a set of senior needs. The level of care varies from facility to facility, and understanding your family member’s physical and mental health condition, personality, and level of independence will help you identify the best choice among these popular senior communities:
Independent Living Communities
Independent living communities are a great option for seniors who are in good overall health and can manage most of their daily needs and activities independently. Seniors often choose independent living for the convenience of care and the social activities and interactions that take place in a vibrant community setting.
Independent living facilities typically provide meals, social and recreational activities, and cleaning services to keep residents comfortable and active in the community.
Assisted Living Communities
In assisted living, seniors are given safe, secure accommodations and support with daily activities such as eating, bathing, getting dressed, and managing medications. Assisted living staff is usually available 24/7 to ensure residents always have the support and care needed.
Some assisted living facilities offer enhanced care options for seniors who need more attention and a higher level of care due to the complexity of their health conditions. In these instances, the assisted living staff is trained to support seniors with care and services that go beyond the normal level of care in assisted living homes.
Some assisted living facilities specialize in treating and caring for seniors with physical or cognitive disabilities or medical conditions that make it more difficult for seniors to live independently. Specialized assisted living offers personalized care plans and accommodations best to serve the needs of seniors in specialized care.
Luxury Assisted Living
Luxury assisted living communities provide independent living with support for seniors in care who may need assistance with daily personal care activities and offer various activities and amenities. The difference between luxury assisted living and traditional assisted living communities is that luxury facilities have an upscale, resort-style design. This typically includes luxurious furnishings, modern gyms, on-site spas, pools, and other amenities to help foster relaxation, socialization, and well-being.
Memory Care Communities
Memory care communities are often set up in a separate area or wing of an assisted living community, but there are also specialized memory care facilities that focus solely on caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Memory care facilities are highly secure and safe and offer individualized care plans to support seniors with cognitive decline.
Memory care includes personalized therapies, activities, and nutrition to preserve cognition levels and care for seniors with memory impairments without sacrificing life stories or resident dignity.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing care retirement communities provide care along a spectrum of different senior’s needs, and the level of daily assistance needed. Services in these facilities can range from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care. Seniors in continuing care retirement communities have access to each level of care, even if their needs change over time.
What Are the 4 Types of Care that May be Provided in a Long Term Care Facility?
Long-term care facilities provide different types of care and tailor their services and programs to meet the specific needs of the residents. The four main types of long-term care are classified as custodial care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation care, and memory care:
Custodial care assists seniors who need help and support with daily living activities that they struggle to do independently due to physical or cognitive impairments or limitations. Custodial care includes assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, taking medicines, using the bathroom, and moving about the facility safely each day. Some of the benefits of custodial care include:
- Promotes Independence
- Increases Safety
- Improves Wellness and Quality of Life.
Skilled Nursing Care
Skilled nursing care facilities employ registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to provide seniors with medical care, including care for chronic illnesses or conditions, specialized treatments, monitored vital signs, and medication management. The benefits of skilled nursing care include:
- Medical Care Provided by Licensed, Registered Nursing Professionals.
- Ongoing Health and Vital Sign Monitoring.
- Specialized Medical Expertise and Treatments Expertise.
Seniors who need rehabilitation care to help support healthy recovery from surgery, illness, or injury often enter long-term care facilities that provide these services. Rehabilitation care may include physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy to help seniors regain mobility, speech, or daily life skills while in care.
Once rehabilitation is complete, some seniors may return home while others may continue living in the facility long-term. The benefits of rehabilitation care include:
- Fast, effective recovery following illness, surgery, or injury.
- Personalized physical, cognitive, speech, or occupational therapy plans for rehabilitation.
- Comprehensive approach to rehabilitation and well-being.
Memory care is a specialized form of senior care with therapies and activities custom tailored to seniors’ unique cognitive and health needs. Memory care is typically for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and skilled staff provides care that preserves life stories, cognition levels, and dignity in residents. Memory care facilities are designed for utmost safety and security to ensure the well-being of seniors with memory impairments.
The benefits of memory care include:
- A safe, secure environment that increases familiarity and reduces wandering or injury.
- Specialized care plans crafted for each senior based on their cognitive needs.
- Cognitive stimulation therapies and activities to preserve cognition and slow cognitive decline in seniors with memory loss due to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
What Is the Best Type of Assisted Living Facility for Seniors With Dementia?
There are several assisted living facility types and options for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Seniors with memory impairments due to these conditions require specialized care and treatment, but the type of facility you choose will depend on the unique needs of your loved one and the progression of their condition:
Memory Care Facilities
Memory care facilities provide specialized cognitive care, therapies, and activities in a safe, secure setting that is thoughtfully designed for respectful, dignified care of seniors with memory impairments due to Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Memory care facilities are staffed with specially trained employees and medical professionals who understand the complexities of dementia and know how to care for residents and monitor cognition and behavior for changes that are critical to care plans.
Memory Care in Assisted Living Communities
Memory care is also available in some assisted living communities dedicated to caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memory care communities are often set up in a separate wing of an assisted living center for increased security and accommodation of specialized services and activities.
Residential Care Homes
Residential care homes are set up to simulate a home setting and are more intimate and quieter than an assisted living community. The care in residential care homes is personalized to each resident, and there is typically a high staff-to-resident ratio for care. Residential care can benefit seniors with dementia who prefer a quiet, familiar environment.
While it will depend largely on the stage and progression of dementia, some seniors may be able to receive care in the comfort of their own homes. In-home care assists seniors with daily activities, medication management and helps create a sense of familiarity and independence at home.
Skilled Nursing Facilities vs Assisted Living Facilities
Skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities provide residential, long-term care for seniors who need assistance with daily activities due to age, illness, or disabilities. There are some important distinctions between the two types of facilities that you should understand when determining the right care facility for your family member or loved one:
Care Level and Specialization
Skilled nursing facilities employ registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to care for the medical needs of seniors in care. Skilled nursing differs from assisted living in that it provides a higher level of medical care for seniors who are recovering from surgeries, living with chronic illnesses or diseases, or needing more specialized medical care required for wound care, intravenous therapy, or rehabilitation therapy.
Staff Expertise and Ratios
Assisted living facilities typically have caregivers or personal care providers on their staff who assist seniors with daily activities like bathing, dressing, taking medications, and housekeeping. However, assisted living facilities generally do not offer 24/7 nursing care, and no regular medical professionals are on staff to care for more complex medical conditions or needs.
On the other hand, skilled nursing facilities have registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) on staff. These facilities typically have 24/7 skilled nursing care and supervision with high staff-to-resident ratios to ensure dedicated medical care and assistance.
Setting, Facility, and Amenities
Assisted living facilities are designed with accommodations that mimic apartment homes with private rooms or living spaces, amenities, communal dining, activities, and community-style living. Assisted living services may also include social outings, planned recreational activities, and transportation.
Since skilled nursing facilities have residents with more complex medical needs, the facilities will usually be more clinical, with a hospital-like setting containing the proper equipment and staff to care for medical conditions and support rehabilitation.
Choosing the Best Assisted Living Facility for Your Loved One
Selecting an assisted living facility for your loved one is a very personal choice, and it’s often a decision that families make together by carefully considering all the most important factors involved for the best care. Here are some of our favorite tips for families deciding on an assisted living facility that will promote independence and well-being while providing all the care needed:
Senior Needs, Preferences, and Specialized Care Requirements
Choosing the right assisted living facility for your loved one begins with carefully assessing your loved one’s needs, personality, preferences, and care requirements. You should consider the level of care they need and also think through how all of their emotional, physical, and medical needs will be handled through the care and services a facility provides.
This phase is an important one for families with members who need specialized care, therapies, or activities for Alzheimer’s or dementia since you’ll need to make sure that the assisted living center has a memory care community with personalized care plans.
You should also understand the continuum of care provided by the facility you’re considering and make sure that they can accommodate the care needs of your loved one now and in the future.
Assisted Living Location, Services, and Amenities
Choosing an assisted living facility close to family, loved ones, and friends are important so that important people in a senior’s life have access to visit regularly. Proximity helps provide a sense of comfort for residents and peace of mind for families and friends.
Knowing about all the services and amenities offered in an assisted living community can also help you make your decision more confidently. Assisted living facilities assist seniors with daily activities and offer various activities, recreation, transportation, and other services to promote safe, independent living for your loved one.
Staffing, Safety Features, and Social Activities
As you look into assisted living facilities, it’s important to learn about the staff qualifications, certifications, and ongoing training. The facility you choose should have well-trained staff in proper ratios to residents to ensure top-quality care and attention.
Visiting a handful of assisted living facilities can help you determine if the cleanliness and safety measures in place are up to your standards. Pay attention to the condition and cleanliness of the facility, the quality of personal care and hygiene assistance for residents, and the presence of safety features.
Look beyond the basic care services and assess the overall quality of life provided by the facility. Consider factors such as the availability of outdoor gardens or walking paths, opportunities for socialization, access to transportation for outings, and the atmosphere and tone of the facility.
Personal Observations and References From Existing Patients and Families
Online reviews can provide insight into valuable details that help you make a good decision for your loved one’s care. You can also request references from other families or healthcare professionals with experience with the assisted living facilities you’re considering. If possible, talk to current residents and their families to get firsthand perspectives on the quality of care, amenities, and staff.
Trust yourself and your other family members involved in this important decision as you all consider what feels like the best fit for your loved one. Choosing a facility that aligns with their preferences, values, and overall comfort is important to ensure long-term success, health, and well-being in assisted living care.
Cost and Financial Responsibilities
The financial aspect of assisted living care is an important component of choosing a facility that fits all of your family member’s needs for a price in your budget. Understand financial obligations, know what monthly payment options are available, and what is included.
Sometimes needed care or services may fall outside of the typical price structure, so be sure to discuss the care your loved one will need so you can understand the total cost for care each month.
Communication, Transparency, and Family Involvement
Family involvement is often critical to senior wellness in assisted living. You should speak with facilities and learn more about their policies on family involvement to make sure what they allow aligns with your family’s needs and expectations.
Make sure you understand the facility’s communication processes for notifying family about your loved one’s well-being or changes in care so you understand how you’ll be kept informed.
Healthcare Coordination, Visitation, and Support
If your loved one requires medical care from external providers while in assisted living, you’ll want to determine exactly how the facility coordinates with healthcare professionals so you can ensure that your family member will have the care they need.
Understanding visitation policies and hours is also important so you know exactly when you can visit your loved one and maintain a loving connection with them while they are in assisted living.
At The Shores at Vivante Assisted Living and Memory Care, we understand just how important the process of selecting an assisted living community for a loved one is for families. We strive each day to offer a safe, supportive, and enriching environment for seniors in assisted living, and one of our core guiding values is treating residents with the compassion and dignity they deserve.
Contact Us today to learn about our luxury assisted living facilities, care programs, and amenities available to support the health and well-being of your family members!