Care Guide

Frequently Asked Questions about Care Options

Q: What are assisted living retirement communities?

A: There are many types of housing options available to seniors. One of the more popular forms of housing are assisted living retirement communities. They offer a combination of housing and personalized services designed to meet the specific needs of residents while allowing them to maintain their independence. Residents choose from a variety of services as needed to help with the activities of daily living.

Q: Who lives in assisted living retirement communities?

A: Currently, more than a million Americans live in an estimated 20,000 assisted living residences across the country. Assisted living is based on a social, not medical model. Residents are generally seniors who no longer wish to care for a private home and are looking for companionship, social activities and security.

Q: What type of amenities do assisted living retirement communities offer to residents?

A: Assisted living communities are designed to help senior residents remain independent and active. They offer private apartments and the chance for residents to participate in a wide range of social activities. They also provide transportation to shopping, doctor appointments and social outings. Residents enjoy meals in the restaurant style dining room. Residents also have peace of mind knowing that communities offer 24-hour staffing.

Q: Where should I look for an assisted living retirement community?

A: Location is one of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a retirement community. Many seniors like to stay in their former neighborhood to be close to friends and remain in familiar surroundings. Others find it is better to move close to their adult children. This makes it easier to spend more time with family members and limits travel.

Q: What types of services are offered in assisted living retirement communities?
A: Services provided in Assisted Living residences usually include:

  • Up to three meals a day served restaurant style in a common dining area
  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation
  • Assistance available for those who need help with the tasks of daily living such as bathing and dressing
  • Access to health and medical services
  • 24-hour security and staff availability
  • Emergency call systems for each resident
  • Wellness and exercise programs
  • Medication management
  • Personal laundry services
  • Social and recreational activities

Q: What are the costs associated with assisted living retirement communities?

A: The cost of living in an assisted living community will vary with each community and will depend on the apartment type and size as well as the types of services needed by each resident. Living in an assisted living community usually costs less than home health services and nursing home care. For residents who need services, a basic assisted living fee may cover all services or there may be additional charges for special services. Most assisted living residences charge month-to-month rates and residents and their families generally pay from their own financial resources.

Q: How are assisted living retirement communities different from other options in senior housing?

A: There are a number of senior living options available including:

Assisted Living Retirement Communities

Assisted living communities generally provide amenities in a congregate living situation where residents have individual apartments, cottages or villas. Typical amenities include meals (one, two or three) served in a main dining room, with restaurant style service, scheduled housekeeping and linen service, an emergency call system, transportation to scheduled appointments and to outside service providers like banks and retail store. An activities program designed to meet the needs of the specific local culture and values of its residents.

Alzheimer's Facilities

These facilities operate in a number of ways and the extent of the care they can provide depends on the state they operate in and the type of license they possess. Most offer care to persons diagnosed with different types of dementia in addition to Alzheimer's disease. Most offer a secured environment, which means that the resident's access to full exits (usually off of the property) would be limited or restricted. Many offer the resident access to courtyards and pathways that have a secured perimeter allowing the individual to go outdoors and not be totally confined.

Depending on the type of license the community possesses they may care for early and middle stage Alzheimer's residents or they may be able to care for those at the late stage of dementia as well. Generally, these communities offer a specialized program geared to the specific needs of the memory impaired individual. This usually includes an activities program designed for the different stages of dementia in addition to the assistance with activities of daily living and medications.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled nursing facilities provide care regulated under Federal and state laws for individuals who have physical, emotional or psychological problems and cannot take care of personal needs and/or need medical or nursing services. This care can be provided short-term for individuals needing skilled nursing care and therapies following a hospitalization (under Medicare for limited time) or long-term for those with custodial and medical needs. Skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes provide 24-hour care by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurse assistants.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities offer several housing options and a wide range of services. Housing options generally include apartments, cottages or villas. These communities offer a continuum of care which includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. An initial entrance fee is required and a monthly rate is stipulated depending on the layout and size of the unit and the types of services contracted for. The resident of the CCRC agrees to a lifetime plan to meet their changing care needs.