Is Senior Housing the Best Choice for Your Loved One?
An understanding of the difference between senior housing and an independent senior living community will help you to make the right decision for both the short and long term. For many seniors, the right setting can provide an exciting opportunity to continue enjoying retirement to the fullest.
As senior advisors, we receive many phone calls for seniors interested in both senior housing and independent senior living. Senior housing can mean a number of things but typically, they are looking for a senior apartment. So, let’s start off by explaining senior apartments.
Senior Housing “Apartments”
One difference between a senior housing apartment and an independent senior living community is that senior apartments are designed as solely an apartment for convenience. They often offer an easier lifestyle for an older adult (typically, 55+) since there is no more yard work and household repairs. And because senior apartments are age-restricted, older adults are surrounded by people of similar ages and interests. They can be a high rise or a regular apartment with 3 floors or less.
Usually, senior apartment complexes offer limited organized social activities and very few additional services. Also, it is very important to note there is no care or transportation provided whatsoever so you will be completely on your own. No meals are provided either but the rooms have a full kitchen for you to cook meals.
Costs of a senior housing apartment range as it really depends on the apartment just like if you were searching for an apartment for yourself. There are also low-income senior housing apartments available as well for those that are income-restricted. An application process is required but this can run as low as $600/month in Central Florida.
Independent Senior Living Communities
Independent senior living communities are the right choice for someone who wants to avoid another move or would like to be surrounded by a little more than simply an apartment. An independent senior community offers all the same advantages of a senior apartment but then build beyond that. They start by offering services that will enhance the quality of life and allow an individual to remain independent for a longer period of time.
Typical services at an independent community typically include:
- Some meals (either one or even three meals a day)
- laundry service
- social and educational activities
- a 24-hour emergency help call system
- access to additional care in case there is a health change
Private Apartments in Independent Communities
Independent communities offer a variety of apartments ranging from cost-effective studios to one and two-bedrooms. This style of living is designed for someone who is independent but would enjoy easy access to dining, and to lifestyle programming that allows them to stay involved and connected.
Because of all the additional services and conveniences available, independent living communities will be staffed at much higher levels than apartment complexes. As a result of the additional services and amenities, you will find the monthly cost of an independent living community to be more expensive than the rent in a senior apartment complex where there are no services.
The average cost of independent living communities falls around $2000-$3500/month. While this is a pretty big range, it again depends on the community. More and more of these retirement communities are charging more due to the services provided and the overall economy.
Many independent living communities are connected to assisted living as well. For those that are independent now but, in the future, would like the option to have care provided, many choose a community with both. This way, they can transition at ease and not have to make another big move. Often times, seniors do not even have to leave the room. They can begin receiving care in the same room when they were under “independent living” as long as they are aware that costs will increase and a new contract must be signed under their assisted living.
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted Living is a part of long-term care services that provides a combination of housing and personal care as well as healthcare. It’s great for seniors who can no longer live on their own and need help with their personal and healthcare tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). This includes Bathing, Dressing, Toileting (incontinence care), and Transferring (to or from bed or chair).
Assisted Living communities are similar to independent communities in the sense that both provide apartment-style living with the opportunity to socialize in activities offered by the staff. The apartment may be a studio, one or two-bedroom, however, the rooms typically do not have a full kitchen as they did in independent living. A kitchenette is provided with a fridge and sink but usually not an oven or stove.
What is probably the biggest difference is that assisted living provides care to their residents as mentioned above. Residents entering assisted living facilities often need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) which refers to bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. Eligibility for admission is based on an individual’s care level requirements. It’s also important to know what level of care you or your loved one needs as there are 4 license types of assisted living that can accommodate different care levels.
This level of care also makes it easier for residents to socialize with their peers. There are plenty of common areas where people can gather as well as structured activities like games, cultural events, dancing, outings, and more. More and more seniors are looking to move into these very modern and lavish communities for these reasons plus three gourmet prepared meals are provided every day. There are also several amenities offered such as a salon, pool, game room, spa room, you name it! Many of these facilities also allow for potential residents and their loved ones to tour the facility before making a decision.
Assisted living is not appropriate for individuals who have severe cognitive impairment or show behavioral symptoms such as wandering and need extra assistance due to a form of Dementia. A memory care community would be more suitable for this type of care which essentially offers a more secure environment where residents can not leave on their own without being escorted. Residents in memory care receive the same assistance with ADL’s, three chef-prepared meals a day, daily activities, and other similar amenities to assisted living but gear their programming for those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Also, assistance is not appropriate for those that have extensive medical or care needs that require daily nursing services such as a Hoyer lift or are bed-bound. If you do require this type of care, a skilled nursing home would be the best option.
The average cost of assisted living care is $3500/month in the state of Florida. There are communities that charge less as it depends on each individual building. This amount covers the room and board, utilities, water, cable, and sometimes WIFI as well as three meals a day, activities on-site, amenities, and transportation to doctor appointments and outings.
What is not included in the above amount is the care costs. Care is additional on top of the base rent and can be charged a few different ways. Typically, care costs are different bundles or levels, typically 1-5 with level 1 starting anywhere from $300-400 and go up depending on the level. Each community will perform an assessment on the resident l moving in to determine which level they fall into based on how many things they need help with throughout the day.
Let North Star Senior Advisors Help You Locate A Senior Living Community
As Senior Advisors in Central Florida, we pride ourselves on educating both seniors and their loved ones on all of the options available to them. If you are interested in locating an independent senior living or assisted living community, one of our experienced senior advisors can narrow down options based on what you are looking for.
Knowing the difference between each type of living arrangement will help you find a solution that not only best suits their needs, but also feels like home.
If you would like more information, get in touch with us today here or call 407-796-1582!