Understanding Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and Residential Care Communities
You’ve already made the difficult choice to place your loved one in a facility outside of your home. So when it comes to senior housing, all of the many options can be confusing and compound an already stressful situation.
It’s important to first identify the needs of the senior. Once you have done that, you can then narrow down your choices and pick a facility that meets their individual needs.
Below are some basic definitions of each type of facility courtesy of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) and the California Registry to help you understand the differences so you can choose the right facility:
- Assisted Living – is a residential setting that offers choices in personal care and health related services. It’s 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.
- Independent Living – is a residential living setting for elderly or senior adults that 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 a facility’s services or programs.
- 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.
- Residential Care Facility – is a small residential care home, licensed for 2 to 6 people and provides a safe, comfortable and dignified environment for those who need help intermittently throughout the day and night. RCF’s are not allowed to provide skilled nursing services (unless there is a credentialed RN or LVN individual working in the home), but they can provide assistance with all daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, urinary or bowel incontinency care. For those elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other kinds of dementia RCF’s can be an ideal care setting because there are few people for the resident to have to deal with, and the number of staff is small, one or two people. There is a lot of close supervision and support for the Alzheimer’s patient, which can lower anxiety and stress. In a residential care setting an elderly person still has the ability to carry on as normal a life as they wish or are able. They can go shopping, have friends and family visit whenever they want, go for walks, dine out, etc.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community – A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a community, which offers several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It is different from other housing and care facilities 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.
- Nursing Home – Provides 24-hour skilled care for the more acute patients. Patients generally rely on assistance for most or all daily living activities (such as bathing, dressing and toileting).
If you need further assistance in choosing a living facility that is right for your loved one, contact Lisa at The Shifting Path to help you narrow down the choices to prevent wasted time and energy visiting facilities that don’t meet the criteria for your needs.