What's the Difference?

Up until the 1980s, seniors who could not live safely in their own home or with family had little access to institutional care. Since the 1980s, senior living has developed from adult care homes to a variety of vibrant lifestyles and progression of care options ranging between Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. We want to make sure you understand the differences between the levels of care as well as the difference between senior living and nursing homes, in order to help you make the best decision for you and your loved one. 

Only about 1% of the U.S. population is educated about senior living due to experiencing it firsthand as a family or through working in the industry. Outside of that 1%, when individuals hear the term “senior living,” they may lump all the options into the same category based on their experience. 

So, what exactly are the differences between these options when it comes to Commonwealth Senior Living? 

Independent Living 

This is the perfect lifestyle choice for those who want to maintain their independence and freedom but want to be free of the worries and responsibilities of home ownership. Independent living offers comfort, convenience, amenities, and the opportunities to be active, engaged, and enjoy a healthy social life. Where You Live Matters says, “Independent Living services and amenities are designed to make things easier and more convenient.” Restaurant-style dining options, weekly, housekeeping, maintenance-free living, and engaging programming means you’ll never need to worry about anything other than living life to the fullest. 

Assisted Living 

20% of adults over 85 years old either need or are currently receiving help with activities of daily living such as showering or dressing. Assisted living provides personalized support delivered with dignity and respect. Residents can continue living an active, rewarding lifestyle with support from associates managing their daily activities. These communities allow residents to have the independence they desire with the knowledge that personal care and support services are available when they need them. 

Memory Care 

Memory Care communities deliver 24-hour support and engagement to their residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in a safe and secure environment. Many communities will also offer family support to help your family navigate this transition. These communities are intentionally designed to offer the calm familiarity of routine schedules and consistent staffing with engaging programs and activities. Not all communities or their programs are the same, so doing online research and visiting the nearby communities in person is an important step in finding the right fit for you. Just like no two communities are the same, no two residents are at the same place in their journey and their needs, abilities, and preferences are unique as well. Commonwealth Senior Living provides person-centered care to ensure each resident enjoys the most appropriate support possible. 

Skilled Nursing Facilities/Nursing Homes 

Skilled Nursing Facilities are designed for seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves independently, are not mobile without assistance, require around-the-clock clinical care and medical monitoring due to chronic or deteriorating physical and health conditions, or require extensive rehabilitation following an injury or major surgery. In a more clinical setting, residents receive assistance with all activities of daily living, but primarily need ongoing palliative care. Some recreational activities are provided, but the main focus is on skilled care, safety, and comfort.  Due to the highly skilled care and physician oversight required at Skilled Nursing Facilities, this is the most expensive level of residential care available for seniors. 

55+ Communities 

55+ Communities, simply put, are planned communities designed for people 55 years or older. Ideally, these communities are near hospitals, restaurants, and other local attractions. The age requirements ensure seniors are living with their peers versus having younger families throughout the neighborhood. Insurance, utilities, maintenance, and amenities like exercise facilities and walking trails are included in a single fee. There are also different categories within 55+ communities such as buying or renting a house or apartment within the community with their prices fluctuating accordingly. To pay for these communities, Medicare and Medicaid are not accepted. Like Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care, 55+ communities are paid for with personal finances and benefits you qualify for like Veterans Aid & Attendance. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) 

CCRC’s offer independent living along with amenities, maintenance, and access to a higher level of care if your needs change. There are several living options available including condos, cottages, duplexes, and studios. While you may receive some tax benefits, there are substantial entry and monthly fees. Additionally, the contracts associated with CCRCs can be complex and often require guidance from your financial advisor. Individuals must meet the requirements, both physically and cognitively, to live there and do not own their home, but rather pay to live in the community while using the amenities and receiving care. 

Today, our seniors are presented with more options than ever before. Understanding the differences between each of these is the next step in deciding which option is right for you or your loved one. For more guidance and support in this process, click the button below to take a free, anonymous assessment that will recommend options that could help based on national research. 

If you would like more guidance on finding the right fit for your loved one,
our community’s Sales & Marketing Directors are only a call away.
Click here to learn more about the lifestyle in the community nearest you.