Housing Categories

Not sure what it all means? Read on to find out what to expect from each housing category.

Active Adult/Retirement Living

Active adult/retirement living facilities are housing communities, apartments, condominiums and mobile home parks that are exclusive to seniors of a minimum age and are often called 'age restricted' communities. They normally require that at least one occupant is over 55. Residents are active, mobile (walkers etc. are usually fine) and usually interested in peer group interaction and socializing. The communities often include a recreation center or clubhouse that is the focal point for social activities. These residences are generally not licensed by the State, nor regulated in any special way.

Assisted Living

Assisted living refers to housing facilities for individuals with some physical or mental limitations and offers a variety of living options. Assisted living may include individual apartments with their own kitchens/kitchenettes, or private/shared rooms in a facility with a communal dining room.

Included in the monthly rents (average $2,500-6,000) are meals, activities, weekly housekeeping and laundry, transportation, security systems, emergency response systems and entertainment. In some cases seniors can move in as independent but, if needed, communities offer levels of personalized support services such as medication monitoring, and help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing or grooming on a sliding fee scale.

Assisted living apartments are licensed by the Department of Social Services for the State in which they are located, however, the term "assisted living" has become a marketing term used by a variety of senior living communities, licensed or unlicensed, so be sure to check licensing status with the provider.

Residential Care Home

Residential care refers to long-term care given to adults who stay in a residential setting, rather than in their own or family home. There are various residential care options available, depending on the needs of the individual: Residents may be categorized as self care when the resident is generally able to meet their own needs, such as ambulation and toileting, and only requires a caregiver for occasional assistance; other residents may require a caregiver in order to have their survival needs met, including ambulation, respiration, bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting.

Usually this is a single-family home, in a quiet neighborhood with probably no more than six residents. Caregivers may be on duty 24 hours to provide a close, supportive environment that approximates family style living but includes personal assistance. These homes may accept dementia and Alzheimer residents if they have the training and this may be a less expensive and more personal option that the larger, assisted living homes. These homes are licensed by the Department of Social Services for the State in which they are located.

In-Home Care

In-home care is health or supportive care provided in the patient's own home. Home health services are for adults and seniors who are recovering after a hospital or facility stay, or need additional support to remain safely at home and avoid unnecessary hospitalization. These Medicare-certified services may include short-term nursing, rehabilitative, therapeutic, and assistive home health care.

Others who provide non-medical support to the individual include caregivers and care assistants who help the individual with activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, cleaning the home and preparing meals.

There is no consistent approach to state licensing or regulation of home care companies across the United States, although full service agencies do pre-employment background checks, including (criminal), department of motor vehicle, and reference checks. Full service agencies also train, monitor and supervise the staff that provides care to clients in their home. There is a voluntary certification available for home care companies in some states.

Memory Care (Alzheimer's and Dementia Care)

Age related memory conditions can take a number of different forms. Forgetfulness is often a normal part of aging. However, if this forgetfulness is compounded with confusion in completing mundane tasks, problem solving, or a change in mood and behavior then it may be a more serious form of memory impairment such as the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.

With the disease becoming more prevalent, many senior living settings are dedicating resources to caring for individuals with poor cognition. From Adult Day Programs to Assisted Living, many facilities are expanding their services to provide safe, secure and nurturing environments for adults with memory impairments.

Continuing Care Community (CCC)

Continuing Care Communities will usually provide a range of Independent Living, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing services as required so that residents may stay in familiar surroundings even if they need additional care. A campus may include apartments in a congregate housing facility, a room or apartment in an assisted living facility, and a skilled nursing home. These various levels of shelter and care are generally housed in separate locations within the community.

The average CCC in the United States contains just over 330 units, made up of 231 independent or congregate living units, 34 assisted living beds, and 70 skilled nursing home beds. On average, an older resident in the United States will live in the congregate living facility for just over three years, the assisted living facility for one year, and the skilled nursing facility for nine months.

CCCs involve a contract and guarantee a lifelong residence, but are generally quite costly. These communities are licensed by the Department of Social Services for the State in which they are located.

End of Life Care

End-of-life care refers to health care, also known as hospice care, for those with a terminal illness or terminal condition that has become advanced, progressive and incurable. When a patient's health care team determines that a terminal disease can no longer be controlled, medical testing and treatment often stop, yet the patient's care continues. The care focuses on making the patient comfortable and the patient may receive medications and treatments to control pain and other symptoms, such as constipation, nausea, and shortness of breath. Some patients remain at home during this time, while others enter a hospital or other facility. Services are available to help patients and their families with the medical, psychological, and spiritual issues surrounding dying.

The hospice concept of care normally involves a specialized health care team of registered nurses, medical social workers, certified home health aides, hospice volunteers, chaplaincy, bereavement support, and can address the patient's and family's physical, social, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. Medicare, Medicare HMOs, Medi-Cal and many private insurers cover all or most of the cost of Hospice care. A sliding fee scale may be available for those without adequate insurance or financial support.

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