Editor’s note: This is first in a series of posts by guest blogger Michelle Seitzer.
Of course, nursing homes probably won’t ever go away completely, as there is still a need for the level of skilled medical care provided within its walls. But just as grocery store shelves have become crowded with countless varieties of spaghetti sauce, cereal, and brownie mix over the years, the options for retirement housing have multiplied, too.
While the difference between food items cannot be compared to the differences between a nursing home and assisted living, many Americans find themselves drowning in the alphabet soup of CCRCs, NORCs, and SNFs, not knowing what’s what. Though you can’t really put “senior care and housing” into neat little boxes, it essentially boils down to three basic categories:
- Independent Living and Alternative Communities: Here, occupants can live without assistance, autonomously making care decisions and arrangements. Healthcare, household/property maintenance or recreational services are often available on site, making it a popular option for boomers desiring conveniences in their later years. This category spans everything from active adult communities, low-income apartments and high-rises, retirement homes, urban villages, NORCs (naturally occurring retirement communities), multigenerational apartment housing, and other niche communities.
- Assisted Living and Home Care: Within this strata of senior housing and services fall assisted living communities, specialized Alzheimer’s care and memory support neighborhoods, CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities), and medical and non-medical home care, in which individuals live at varying levels of independence and receive assistance with services and care as their needs prescribe.
- Skilled Care and Ancillary Services: Examples of care settings and services within this category include nursing homes (also called skilled nursing facilities or SNFs), hospice care, and medical and non-medical adult day services. Those receiving such services or residing in such settings have medical needs that require advanced, specialized care.
Much like your food shopping trips, choosing what’s best is often driven by your budget, tastes, doctor’s orders, and most importantly, what’s available. It pays to be an informed consumer. Try AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center on Housing Options for checklists and the Department of Health and Human Services’ ElderCare locator to find local and state resources to get you started. You can also try HHS’s Administration on Aging’s Long-term Care resources and tools.
Stay tuned for future posts that will explore each category in detail and offer advice and resources on…
- How to choose?
- Who pays?
- Who provides?
- Who licenses?
- Where to find?
Editor’s Notes: Michelle Seitzer has blogged for SeniorsforLiving.com since 2008, and is the co-moderator of #ElderCareChat, a bi-monthly Twitter-facilitated discussion group for family and professional caregivers passionate about quality senior care.