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Understanding “Assisted Living” Options (Independent Living Vs. Assisted Living Vs. Memory Care Vs. Skilled Nursing)

December 2, 2019

The term “Assisted Living” tends to mean different things to different people. Many times it’s used as an umbrella term to describe any senior housing community no matter what the level of care is. Heck, we even used it that way when we created the name of our Company: Sunways Assisted Living Concierge!

Depending on someone’s experience, they may envision what used to be referred to as a “nursing home” in a hospital type setting when they think of “Assisted Living”. But today’s “Assisted Living” options are so much more than that! Let’s dive a bit deeper into the 4 main types available so you and your loved one can know what’s best.

These are 55+ communities that offer great amenities to foster socialization. They can come in many shapes and sizes, but creating a sense of community, fun and engagement is usually at the forefront Independent Living is perfect for those who are focused more on activities, flexibility and convenience. They’ll usually have dining options on site and the ability to easily add on cleaning and laundry services. However, they usually won’t include any levels of care, so if a resident needs medication management or any assistance with daily tasks, they’ll need to pay for an outside In-Home Care service to do that. Cost and payment structure can vary greatly. Some are set-up as an Equity/Ownership community and others as a rental where you just pay monthly for your rent/amenities.

Assisted Living communities are designed specifically for residents that need various levels of daily personal care. They can range from a larger “resort” environment, to a condo/apartment building feel, or even to smaller residential homes with a handful of residents. There are different kinds of assisted living licenses that dictate what kind of care they can offer and if they require a nurse to be on site. All that said, Assisted Living communities are a good fit for someone who is still active enough that they can engage and gain from social activities, but need daily care. You will usually only pay for the level of care needed and that can range from basic medication management, all the way up to assisting with all activities of daily life like bathing, dressing and toileting. Assisted Living communities are usually a monthly rental with base cost including an apartment, 3 daily meals and weekly housekeeping and laundry services. They will also have transportation services, a variety of activities daily and exercise/PT/OT options on site.

Memory Care communities are very similar to Assisted Living, with the only real difference being that they are in a secured building/unit. They are created specifically for residents with varying levels of dementia who are a risk to wander. Usually cost is all-inclusive (not broken into levels like Assisted Living) set up as a monthly rental and will include an apartment, any/all levels of care, 3 meals a day, housekeeping, laundry services, social activities and transportation.

Skilled Nursing facilities are usually what one would refer to as a “nursing home”. They are created specifically to care for those that need daily medical services. The environment is typically similar to a hospital setting and offers 24/7 care that is typically appropriate for someone with more complex health needs that require assistance from a skilled nurse. Residents will usually pay a daily rate, versus the monthly cost in the previous options above.

Hopefully this breakdown not only helps you better understand the services available, but also the appropriate term to describe it! At Sunways, we specialize in working with you and/or your loved one to identify the perfect community with the appropriate level of care to serve both short and long term goals. Our services are always free to families, so reach out to us with questions!

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