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Long Term Care Options

You have a variety of housing and care types from which to choose, including independent living, assisted living, home care, and skilled nursing care (for acute health-care needs). Senior housing communities you may be considering can help assess you or your loved one for the most appropriate environment based on needs. Learn more about senior living care options, nursing homes, independent living...

Assisted Living

The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed. 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 about assisted living, the philosophy of assisted living, the lifestyle and amenities offered, how it is regulated, and how to plan for senior living care.

Assisted Living, Dementia Care

Assisted Living communities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia are often referred to as “Special Care Units (SCUs).” Often housed in a special wing with additional security, cueing devices and other specific architectural features these areas are state licensed and provide programming specific to the population being served. SCUs are staffed with individuals who are specifically trained to work with individuals who have some form of dementia. SCUs can differ in the level of care they provide along the continuum of the disease. For instance, some assisted living communities will accept individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia through the entire disease process whereas other will only accept individuals who are in the early stage of the disease.

Congregate Housing

Congregate Housing is similar to independent living except that it usually provides convenience or supportive services like meals, housekeeping, and transportation in addition to rental housing.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

A community that offers several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It is different from other housing and care options for seniors because it usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident (frequently lasting the term of the resident's lifetime) and the community, which offers a continuum of housing, services and health care system, commonly all on one campus or site.

These CCRC communities offer housing, services, and nursing care, typically all in one location and are paid for through long term contracts with the residents. They are covered by state regulations in 38 states and are usually classified as an insurance model governed by the state department of insurance or another similar entity. Each part of the community may be subject to separate oversight. For example, housing could be regulated at the local level, assisted living regulated at the state level, and the nursing home part of the community governed by state and federal regulations.

Home Health Care

Home health care is a variety of health care services that can be given in your home and is generally used by individuals with an illness or injury. Home health care helps an individual regain independence through part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy. Learn more at Medicare.gov.

Independent Living

Designed for seniors who require little or no assistance with the activities of daily living, independent living units provide services for residents such as housekeeping, laundry and meals. Residents of independent units may have some home health care services provided by in-house staff or an outside agency. These residents pay a rental rate or monthly fee.

Residential living setting for senior adults may or may not provide hospitality or supportive services. Under this living arrangement, the senior adult leads an independent lifestyle that requires minimal or no extra assistance. Generally referred to as elderly housing in the government-subsidized environment, independent living also includes rental assisted or market rate apartments or cottages where residents usually have complete choice in whether to participate in the community's services or programs.

Nursing Home

Nursing Homes are medical care options that provide nursing or convalescent care for three or more persons unrelated to the licensee. A nursing home provides care of chronic conditions or short term convalescent or rehabilitative care, for which medical and nursing care are indicated. Some residents are admitted for short stays of convalescent or rehabilitative care following hospitalization. In addition to licensure, nursing homes that wish to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement must be certified in accordance with federal law. Beyond licensure and certification requirements, nursing homes must also honor the federal Nursing Home Patient's Bill of Rights. These rights are designed to promote and protect the well-being of nursing home residents.

Funding options for nursing home care include: private funding, long-term care insurance, Medicare, and in large part Medicaid. Paying for nursing home care is a major concern for many families as well as the government. Historically, Medicaid has paid for about half of the total cost of nursing home care, with Medicare and private long-term care insurance paying but a fraction of the cost. Concerned about the growth of the Medicaid program, there is interest in identifying and supporting ways for individuals and families to accept greater financial responsibility for the cost of nursing home care.

Special Care Units (SCUs)

Assisted Living communities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia are often referred to as “Special Care Units (SCUs).” Please review the information for Assisted Living, Dementia Care above.

WHAT is Assisted Living?
assisted living couple

The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed. 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 about Assisted Living.

QUESTIONS to Ask
assisted living questions

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 elderly family member to carry on important activities of daily living without significant support and assistance from others.

Whether your needs are immediate or long-term, planning for senior living can seem daunting. Making the Right Choice Involves asking the right questions. Learn more about what to ask when considering senior living.

AMENITIES and Services
Assisted Living Services

Typical Assisted Living Services include access to health care and medical services customized to specific needs, 24-hour emergency call systems for each resident, three meals a day served in dining area, housekeeping, and laundry services, assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and walking as needed, and shuttle buses, exercise and wellness programs... Learn more.