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Senior Living Options

Senior Living Options

Whether you are visiting this site because you need care for yourself or a loved one now, or if you're planning for future needs, everything you need to know about assisted living and senior living is right here.

Senior living (or senior housing and care) is a lifestyle choice for individuals seeking an independent lifestyle with as much assistance as they need or want. The settings are just like our own homes, but with the added advantage of meals and entertainment, housekeeping, transportation, and assistance with daily activities.

You have a variety of housing and care types from which to choose, and the senior housing communities you may be considering can help assess you or your loved one for the most appropriate environment based on needs. Independent living communities, which are much like apartments or condominiums, are most appropriate for seniors who do not need assistance with daily activities, such as dressing or bathing, but desire a community of seniors who may share meals and activities together as they choose. Assisted living communities serve seniors seeking a vibrant, independent lifestyle with assistance available to meet individual needs. Assisted Living communities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia are often referred to as Special Care Units (SCUs). SCUs are often housed in a special wing with additional security, cueing devices and other specific architectural features. Nursing homes are medical care options that provide care of chronic conditions or short term convalescent or rehabilitative care, for which medical and nursing care are indicated.

The many types of residences, lifestyles, and care options are as diverse as our own needs and preferences. When it comes to senior living, it’s often said that if you’ve seen one senior living residence, you’ve seen one senior living residence. 

Learn more about choosing an assisted living community.

What is Assisted Living?
What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities embrace quality of life as well as quality of care. Every part of an assisted living community is designed to feel like home and promote dignity and independence. They offer the latest amenities, privacy, comfort, and beautifully decorated home-inspired environments for seniors. The variety of settings, care offerings, and residences can range from convenient high-rise apartments near metropolitan centers to converted Victorian homes, to campus communities with all the charms of a small town. Most assisted living communities have between 25 and 120 units, varying in size from a single room to a full apartment.

Assisted living communities may be operated by nonprofit or for-profit organizations.Assisted living staff members wear casual clothing rather than uniforms, and caregivers are compassionate, respectful, dedicated and well trained. Care is based on the needs and desires of each individual resident. Residents wake-up, bathe, and exercise at a time of day they desire. Residents eat their meals when they are hungry and select the food that they prefer.

Assisted living also offers a variety of social gatherings, community events, outings and group activities, yet residents can also retreat to the privacy of their own room, decorated to their liking, or do independent activities at their leisure and on their own schedule.

Please explore ALFA.org/Family to find assisted living information and senior living options. Answers questions like, Who is the typical assisted living resident? What is the cost of assisted living? How is assisted living regulated? What services are offered in assisted living? What are examples of assisted living activities? And most importantly, Is Assisted Living right for myself and/or my family!? You can also use the ALFA website to search for communities near you.

Helpful Tips
Choosing the Senior Living Option That's Right For You!

Certain situations and signs may indicate it might be time to consider alternative living arrangements. Generally speaking, families and seniors begin to consider alternatives when it becomes difficult for the elder family member to carry on important activities of daily living without significant support and assistance from others. Some of the challenges elder adults can face as they age include loss of vision, poor balance, memory loss or forgetfulness, fatigue, loneliness, dementia, or a physician-prescribed move to a care setting.

Whether your needs are immediate or long-term, planning for senior living can seem daunting. Here are some important first steps:

  1. Do your research. Ask tough questions.
  2. Determine your budget.
  3. Search for senior living communities.
  4. Set up residence tours. Print out the Choosing an Assisted Living Community Checklist to use in evaluating communities you are considering. During tours, ask the residences you are considering for written material, including copies of the community's resident agreement that outlines, at a minimum, services, prices, extra charges, admission and discharge criteria, staffing, and house rules. A disclosure statement that discusses ownership and financial solvency of the provider may also be available.
  5. Talk with the residences you are considering to determine whether you qualify for financial assistance, including Medicaid Waivers and Veterans benefits.
  6. Begin carefully planning the relocation, including choosing favorite furniture and other personal items to decorate the new residence. Many relocation professionals specialize in long-term care.

What is Assisted Living?

The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a senior living option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed.There are many ways to identify a well-run senior living community that's right for you. Please take the time to learn about senior living care options on ALFA's Family and Friends website.

Who is the typical assisted living resident?

Assisted living is designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation. Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Residents are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan. Learn more...

What is the cost of assisted living?

Costs vary with the residence, apartment size, and types of services needed. The basic rate may cover all services or there may be additional charges for special services. Most assisted living residences charge on a month-to-month lease arrangement, but a few require long-term arrangements. Assisted living is of often less expensive than home health or nursing home care in the same geographic area. Learn more...

What are examples of assisted living activities?

Most senior housing communities offer a variety of activities and entertainment to engage residents and enhance their quality of life - from book groups to planned theater outings to gardening clubs. Residents typically participate in activities outside the residence as well. Certainly, quality of life has different meanings for different people, so high-quality communities offer a variety of social programs to meet residents' interests. Activities staff will often assess each resident's activity and leisure needs and interests to help them identify programs of interest. Learn more...