An Overview of Retirement and Long-Term Care Options

Senior apartments, retirement communities or independent living:  Today’s seniors have the opportunity to live life on their terms, whether it is remaining in their beloved home or joining a retirement community and living with other active seniors. And as more Baby Boomers enter retirement, even more choices will be available as the senior living market develops to meet their needs and desires. Even if you don’t anticipate moving or needing supportive services for many years, it is a good idea to be familiar with the type of housing and available care options so you know what to look for when the need arises.

Senior Housing and Long-Term Care Options

These are the general terms describing the available senior housing options.

  • Retirement Communities describe a variety of housing options geared to those over 55. Apartments, condominiums and single detached houses may all be available in a community setting but the focus is on activities and services that are appealing to seniors. These communities often include classes, seminars, recreation, travel options and proximity to outdoor sports.

    • Senior Apartments are a type of retirement community which feature apartment-style living and do not offer supportive services in the form of available staff or housekeeping services.
    • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) provide a continuum of care that includes housing, services and health care. Assisted living is not always included, but skilled nursing care is always available, either on or off site. The CCRC offers a contract to residents, guaranteeing housing and nursing services, often for lifetime. The portions of the community which provide assisted living, memory care and nursing services are licensed by the state.
  • Independent Living provides residential housing, much like an apartment or condominium complex, but often also offers the added benefit of 24-hour staff to respond to medical emergencies and to provide housekeeping services.
  • Assisted Living generally includes private apartments of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom sizes with a 24-hour staff available for help with activities of daily living (ADLs). The level of care needed varies from light housekeeping to extensive personal assistance. These communities are typically licensed by the state.
  • Memory Care is offered in individual apartments or private rooms in a safe and controlled atmosphere with 24-hour trained medical staff. This type of community offers specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s care and may be free-standing or a designated area in a larger assisted living facility. These communities are licensed by the state.
  • Care Homes are generally found in neighborhoods and are usually privately owned. They are licensed by the state and provide non-medical care for six or fewer residents. They are more cost-effective and provide more of a homelike atmosphere than other types of senior housing.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities, also known as nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities, offer 24-hour medical care, generally in the form of private and semiprivate rooms.

A Snapshot of Senior Housing Costs

Each type of senior housing offers a different set of services to meet their resident’ needs. Prices vary according to the state and the services being provided.

Assisted LivingMemory CareCare HomeCCRCsSkilled Nursing
Cost Per Month$1,500-3500$2,200+
Meals per DayOptions1-333Options3
Medication ManagementNoYesYesPossiblyYesYes
Personal Services OptionsYesYesYesOptionsYes
Accepts WheelchairsYesYesYesYesYesYes
Dementia CareNoPossiblyYesPossiblyOptionsYes
On-site NursesNoUsuallyYesPossiblyOptionsYes

Though you may think that you won’t need assisted living services or move from your family home, it is important to consider your options if, and when, you require assistance to remain independent.


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