Senior Living Community Options: Which Is the Best?
As we age, some things can become more difficult. The stairs, opportunities to make new friends, and maybe your ability to live alone.
There might come a time when you or a loved one need to look into other living arrangements for seniors.
But you worry about the loss of freedom, independence, or privacy.
At a senior living community, you don’t have to worry about losing personal agency.
In this guide, we provide information about the different types of senior living communities, the benefits and costs, and the difference a senior living community can make in your quality of life.
Table of Contents
What Is a Senior Living Community?
A senior living community is more than just a facility that provides a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment for seniors. It is a community — like a big neighborhood — filled with other seniors who also want to make meaningful connections and experiences.
Senior living communities may provide:
- A sense of purpose
- Greater independence
- Decreased feelings of depression and loneliness
- Social interaction and connection with residents and staff
- An enjoyable retirement
Aging may sometimes prompt feelings of isolation and boredom. Just because you are getting older doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to have fun and meet new people. At a senior living facility, you may find it easy to make new friends and pick up new hobbies.
Senior living communities might offer activities like:
- Arts and crafts
- Educational seminars
- Exercise classes
- Social events like trivia, movie night, mixers, etc
- And more
The term “senior living community” is often used as an umbrella term to describe a variety of senior care options. The type of facility you might choose depends on your medical/daily needs and preferences.
What Makes Senior Living Different From a 55+ Retirement Community?
A 55+ retirement community is a senior community where a group of condos, apartments, and houses is exclusively inhabited by individuals aged 55+. A 55+ community may offer shopping complexes, restaurants, theaters, hair salons, etc. either nearby or onsite.
A senior living community is like this, only you do not have to worry about menial chores like driving, cooking, or cleaning. Most tasks are taken care of, so you can make the most of your day with easy access to all the facility’s activities and amenities.
The community you choose depends on your care needs and your definition of independence.
Some people believe that independence is doing everything all by yourself. Others believe independence is freedom from basic responsibilities, so you can live your life carefree and in control.
3 Types of Senior Living Communities
#1: Independent Senior Living
Independent living communities provide an environment for older adults to independently thrive while enjoying the on-site amenities and social activities.
Some independent senior living communities have medical professionals on-site in case of emergency. The living facilities are easily accessible and disability-friendly. Seniors live independently but in a safe environment where, if help or support is needed, it is there.
The type of living quarters you may choose from in an independent senior living community include:
- Single-family homes
Who Might Benefit from Choosing Independent Senior Living?
Individuals who may benefit the most from independent senior living include those who:
- Require little to no assistance with daily functions.
- Have very few medical needs.
Residents with physical handicaps and decreased mobility may have their needs accommodated with handicap-accessible living quarters. Seniors with a high level of care needs may want to consider assisted living.
#2: Assisted Senior Living
An assisted senior living community is a care facility for older adults that provides support in the daily functions of its residents while also providing social amenities.
It can be hard to acknowledge a decline in physical and mental capabilities. You or your family may fear that your privacy and agency will be taken from you. But as we age, it can be perfectly normal to find ourselves needing a little help.
Assisted living communities exist to empower seniors to live their lives how they want, just with a little assistance. The amount is up to you and your personal wants/needs.
Most facilities offer dining and meal services but may also allow you to have a kitchenette to prepare your own meals if you prefer. If you require minor medical care, on-site medical professionals can be there to help. Assistance can also be provided if you need help with activities of daily living (ADL).
Assisted living can give seniors the agency to have fun and relax, without worrying about the small stuff.
Who Might Benefit from Choosing Assisted Senior Living?
Individuals who might benefit from an assisted living arrangement may include seniors who have:
- Difficulty performing some daily tasks.
- Medical needs that may require monitoring.
- Mobility issues.
There are some cases where individuals need more than basic assistance with daily tasks. Those with age-related cognitive impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s may need more than assisted living. In some cases, a memory care facility may be more suitable.
#3: Memory Care Senior Living
Memory care facilities specialize in caring for seniors with varying degrees of cognitive decline due to disease or disability.
This type of senior living facility provides an environment that cares for the physical, emotional, and social needs of residents.
Memory care senior living provides activities to keep seniors comfortable and engaged. Individualized care plans are developed to care for individuals in a secure environment for increased independence.
Examples of care that memory senior living facilities may provide include:
- Scheduled mealtimes to ensure seniors are properly fed.
- Routines that ensure seniors are taking their medication.
- Activities and entertainment that reduce stress and boredom.
- Social events that foster meaningful engagement between residents.
- Therapy and emotional support care.
- On-site professionals that have experience comforting and monitoring memory-affected residents.
Studies show that memory-affected seniors may benefit more from a memory care center than a traditional nursing home.
Research reviewed 32 studies on the impact of memory care facilities and nursing homes on residents with dementia. It was concluded that memory care facilities may be better equipped to provide a relaxing environment that yields a better quality of life than traditional nursing homes.
Who Might Benefit from Choosing a Memory Care Facility?
Older individuals who may benefit the most from residing in a memory care facility may include:
- Individuals with Alzheimer’s.
- Individuals with dementia.
- Individuals over 55 with mental disabilities that impair daily function.
What Is the Average Cost of a Senior Living Facility?
The average cost of a senior living facility in the United States is anywhere from $1,500-$10,000 per month.
Factors that might influence the cost of care include:
- Level of care: More care may be required at an assisted living facility and memory care facility than at an independent living community. The more care a resident needs, the higher the cost may be.
- Amenities: The activities and on-site locations may add to the cost of the facility. Amenities that could affect cost range from linen services to swimming pools. A higher quality of care may typically provide residents with more amenities.
- Quality of care: High-quality care means professionally staffed facilities that provide an engaging and comfortable environment. The skill level of staff, amenities provided, level of care, and even the food and atmosphere all influence the quality of care in senior living facilities.
The cost of a senior care facility may sometimes be less than or equivalent to the cost of a senior’s previous living situation. Consider these expenses when planning a budget for senior living care:
- Grocery bills.
- Rent or mortgage.
- Utility bills.
- Cable and internet bills.
- Transportation costs.
Within Senior Services of America communities, it is our genuine desire to help seniors receive care that not only nurtures but empowers them. We understand that the cost of a senior living facility may seem daunting, but the benefits may often outweigh the cost.
Contact your nearest community to find out what financial assistance may be available to you.
What Is a Senior Living Facility Like Compared to Being in a Nursing Home? 3 Main Differences
Sometimes older individuals require more attentive care, whether that be medical care or assistance with activities of daily life. In cases where high levels of care are needed, a nursing home may be necessary.
#1: The Atmosphere and Environment
Traditional nursing homes may have a more clinical atmosphere than senior living communities. Routines have to be stricter compared to a senior living facility due to the high level of need of residents.
Nursing homes are generally more of a medical environment. Everything must be sterile and routinely sanitized. Senior living facilities, on the other hand, have a more relaxed and home-like environment and may lead to an increased quality of life.
#2: Level of Care
Nursing homes provide a high level of medical care and more assistance with ADLs. With senior living facilities, the level of care may vary depending on the needs of the resident.
Some residents of senior living facilities need little to no assistance and care beyond help with cooking and cleaning. Residents of memory care facilities may require more attentive care, but staff may be better equipped to care for individuals with memory dysfunctions.
#3: Level of Independence and Privacy
Senior living facilities may provide more flexibility and privacy when it comes to daily life.
Nursing homes may often run tight routines to manage the care of patients. This may lead to:
- Stricter outside visitor policies and hours.
- More limited interaction with other residents.
- Scheduled bedtimes and mealtimes.
- Limited access to amenities.
- Sharing a room with another resident.
Senior living communities may provide a more relaxed and less stringent environment where residents can plan their day and freely make lifestyle decisions.
What Is Senior Living Like at a Senior Services of America Community?
We believe the purpose of senior living is to allow residents the ability to enjoy the same freedoms they had before, only in a safe environment that allows them to make new connections and experiences.
Our communities are committed to empowering the agency of our residents so they may maintain a meaningful and enjoyable life. Find a nearby community to learn more.
The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.