Jan 5, 2021

Senior Communities - Levels of Care

Senior Care Communities are often referred to as assisted living; but that label does not fully describe their service options.  Many people move into Senior Care Communities and only need to buy Independent Living.  So typically, the Senior will choose a studio, or one or two bedroom apartment, moving in their own furnishings.  Independent Living usually provides two or three meals a day and maid service once a week in addition to all the activities available within the community.  No other level of assistance is provided at this lower price point, which is essentially just room and board.   Often the decision for the individual or family is made to move into Independent Living because driving is no longer an option; but mobility and mental capacity are still good.   Very often a fall may also have motivated the decision.  One mistake families often make is waiting too long to make this move, which just makes the transition harder when more care is needed later on.  

As someone gets older requiring more assistance, it is usually provided in packages or Levels of Care.  This is more commonly known as Assisted Living.  It could involve anything from assisting with bathing and taking medications to escort services to walk to meals or even having meals brought to the apartment, rather than going to a common dining room.  Since buying additional assistance raises the monthly fee, this could be a good time to downsize the apartment because services become more important that physical space.   Assisted Living assumes less mobility and perhaps even somewhat less cognitive skills.  

At some point should someone residing in Assisted Living develop dementia or Alzheimer's, many communities offer Memory Care Services.  Usually, this involves moving into their lock down unit, since there could be a danger of someone wandering off.  Rather than going to the larger common dining room, meals are either served within the bedroom, or much smaller apartment, or in the group dining area in the Memory Care unit.   The Senior may or may not be bedridden; but there usually is the ability to get out of bed for at least some part of the day.

Generally, since different licensing is involved, Senior Care Communities do not offer skilled nursing home services on site; though some some communities do have that level of service available within the complex.  When someone is completely bedridden and requires other daily medical services, it is time for a Skilled Nursing facility.  Should a Senior remain in a Senior Community for a number of years, it is very feasible that he or she will experience all these levels of care.  In doing so, monthly fees will continue to go up to provide for higher levels of service.