Independent Living Communities

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How do I choose?

Step 1. A helpful starting Place

Many Seniors would prefer to continue living in their own home or aging in place. Sometimes circumstances work against those preferences:  Home maintenance becomes a burden, a major life event forces considering a move, an aging parent wants to live closer to adult children, financial concerns make it difficult to keep the home, support services are needed that are not available at home.

Consider the following questions:

Are you ready to give up yard work and upkeep on a house?

Are you ready to give up cooling and heating those unused rooms in your house?

Are you ready to stop waiting on repairmen who will show up sometime between 9 am and 5 pm?

Are you ready to give up figuring out what to fix for meals and what to buy at the grocery store?

Are you ready to stop driving in traffic and bad weather?

Are you ready to give up scrubbing the bathroom and kitchen floors?

Are you ready to enjoy a trip or a party without all the organization and clean up?

If you answer YES to any or all of these questions, then it may be time to consider your options, including a move.

Step 2.  Review & Research

Review the Types of Senior Living available and compare your needs to their services. Evaluate your needs against the care described below.

These classifications are provided by ASHA American Seniors Housing Association

Active Adult Communities: For-sale single-family homes, townhomes, cluster homes, mobile homes and condominiums with no specialized services, restricted to adults at least 55 years of age or older. Rental housing is not included in this category. Residents generally lead an independent lifestyle; projects are not equipped to provide increased care as the individual ages. May include amenities such as clubhouse, golf course and recreational spaces. Outdoor maintenance is normally included in the monthly homeowner’s association or condominium fee.

Senior Apartments: Multifamily residential rental properties restricted to adults at least 55 years of age or older. These properties do not have central kitchen facilities and generally do not provide meals to residents, but may offer community rooms, social activities, and other amenities.

Independent Living Communities: Age-restricted multifamily rental properties with central dining facilities that provide residents, as part of their monthly fee, access to meals and other services such as housekeeping, linen service, transportation, and social and recreational activities. Such properties do not provide, in a majority of the units, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as supervision of medication, bathing, dressing, toileting, etc. There are no licensed skilled nursing beds in the property.

(As this industry grows, some Independent Living Communities offer flexible monthly fees which do not include meals and other services if they are not necessary or desired. Also, Some Independent Living Communities offer on-site Home Health Care for assistance with ADLs.)

Assisted Living Residences: State regulated rental properties that provide the same services as independent living communities listed above, but also provide, in a majority of the units, supportive care from trained employees to residents who are unable to live independently and require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) including management of medications, bathing, dressing, toileting, ambulating and eating.

These properties may have some nursing beds, but the majority of units are licensed for assisted living. Many of these properties include wings or floors dedicated to residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. A property that specializes in the care of residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia that is not a licensed nursing facility should be considered an assisted living property.

 

Nursing Homes: Licensed daily rate or rental properties that are technically referred to as skilled nursing facilities (SNF) or nursing facilities (NF) where the majority of individuals require 24-hour nursing and/or medical care. In most cases, these properties are licensed for Medicaid and/or Medicare reimbursement. These properties may include a minority of assisted living and/or Alzheimer’s/dementia units.

 

CCRCs: Age-restricted properties that include a combination of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services (or independent living and skilled nursing) available to residents all on one campus. Resident payment plans vary and include entrance fee, condo/coop and rental programs. The majority of the units are not licensed skilled nursing beds.

According to New Lifestyles you might also encounter the following types of community classifications:

Retirement Living – Independent Living with Amenities such as meals, Transportation and activities usually, but not always, included in a monthly fee.

Residential Care – Usually single family homes licensed to provide assistance medication, bathing and dressing.

Alzheimer’s/Memory Care –  Communities offering specialized programs for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss. These programs can be offered by Residential, Assisted Living, or Nursing Centers.

Nursing Rehab – Communities licensed to provide health care and services involved in managing complex and potentially serious medical problems.

Home Care – Includes providers of licensed health care services in the home and companies that provide non-medical assistance with such tasks as bathing, dressing, meal preparation and transportation.

Sitter Service – Services of sitters, aides, or private duty nurses or therapists in the home, hospital or residential center. May include personal care assistance,  grooming, medication, supervision, light housekeeping, transportation, nursing care or therapy.

Day Care – Various programs provide a range of geriatric day services, including social, nutrition, nursing and rehab.

Hospice – Hospice care may be provided in the home or a senior care community. Services can included pain management and a variety of emotional, spiritual and physical support.

Care Management – Offer advisory services addressing a wide range of senior issues, such as selecting a senior residence, choosing in home care providers and various financial options.  Typically care managers evaluate a senior’s situation with regard to health needs, housing choices and financial needs and then provide a recommended care plan activities.

STEP 3.  Select Specific Communities

Select the specific type of community or care option closest to your needs.  Select some communities that meet your needs.  There are many resources available.  Here are some helpful internet sites:

CarePathways.com/il-checklist

HelpGuide.org/elder/independent_living_seniors_retirement.htm

NewLifestyles.com

SeniorHousing.net

SeniorOutlook.com

SeniorLiving.com

Yellow Pages

Industry Publications – New Lifestyles, Senior Living

Step 4. Visit the Communities

Talk at length with the communities that match your criteria. A phone call is a good start but it is important to visit the communities you are interested in.  When calling or visiting a community, the following checklist helps to ensure that you ask the necessary questions, allows you to keep notes, and makes it easier to compare the communities under consideration. Place a check mark in the box to the right if the service or feature applies to that community. The checklist can be used for all type of Senior Living so not all of the categories may apply to your specific situation but it is a helpful tool.

Download the checklist.

Getting Started