There comes a time where we all need a little extra help! Transitioning loved ones to a senior living community can be stressful and overwhelming. Many questions can arise, and information is key in making this important decision.
What are the Different Types of Senior Living?
The following Senior Living Community categories can be stand-alone or be part of a campus that includes several levels of care. Traditionally, types of Senior Living may be referred to as Levels of Care.
Independent Living (Private Pay)
Independent Living is perfect for individuals 55+ who are able to manage their activities of daily living and personal affairs. Think of someone who you’d label as “self-sufficient”. These campuses offer a variety of apartment sizes and fees are dependent on size and add-on services. For example, add-on services might include things like meal plans, housekeeping, and internet, however add-on services are not always included. No state licensure is needed to operate an independent living facility.
Independent Living (Housing Authority Communities and Senior Housing)
For a more budget-friendly option, there are options outside of private pay independent living. These may be referred to as Housing Authority Communities or Senior Housing. These housing options are designated for financially limited seniors. Instead of a staff, you may see a Property Manager overseeing operations. If you or a loved one need additional financial assistance, consider looking into Illinois’ Community Care Program through Medicaid. This program can provide services such as personal care and household assistance.
Easily shown by its name, Assisted Living facilities are designed to accommodate individuals 55 and older who need assistance with personal care. However, this personal care is not the level of care provided in nursing homes. Care services vary due to ownership, but may include services like meals, transportation, or medication management. Additionally, these facilities may look similar to independent living as they usually are single apartments (rarely shared) offered in a variety of sizes. Assisted Living communities are licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Supportive Living Facility
For seniors who are 65+ and in need of financial aid through Medicaid, Supportive Living Facilities may be the perfect match. These facilities offer the same access to assistance as an Assisted Living Facility; however, they are licensed by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services. Supportive Living Facilities are required to hire Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).
- Long Term Care provides personal and nursing care to persons who are unable to care for themselves. These facilities can be private pay or Medicaid or a combination of both.
- Rehabilitation Nursing Facility provides short-term rehabilitation services (typically post-hospital) such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy.
Memory care facilities are created to provide care to those living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Since care for those with dementia is so unique, these facilities are secured for safety and staff are required to undergo specialized training. Additionally, these communities are required to document what distinguishes the facility as appropriate for those with dementia. Your loved one can expect a smaller community with activities tailored for those with memory loss.
What Should you Take into Account When Choosing a Community?
- Level of care needed
- Will you need temporary care or long term? What kind of support do you need?
- Payment Source
- Will you opt for Private Pay or depend on help from Medicaid or other financial support (i.e. Veteran and spouse benefits)?
- Your lifestyle, interests, and preferences (i.e. gardening, walking areas, exercise, meal service)
- Transportation Options
- Ratings based on state inspections
- Inspection scores can be found at IDPH’s website.
- Is your personal support system close by?
- What locations will make visiting convenient for them?
- Are you near places you like to visit? (ex. Church, parks, favorite coffee shop)
- Ownership and Management
What Resources Can You Use to Research?
When is the Best Time to Consider Senior Living?
The best time to consider a senior community is before you need it! Touring and making tentative choices can eliminate the urgency in the event of the unexpected. Think of it like choosing a college, it’s best to be educated and take tours before the time comes to make a choice. It’s important to remember to do the investigative work when your friends, family, or support system have time to tour with you. Additionally, make an appointment with the communities you are considering, so the staff can ensure they spend ample time with you.
However, disaster does not have to strike to transition to senior living. Sometimes, this change can be relative to your individual situation. Things like care of your home becoming a burden or loneliness can be the perfect catalyst to make a change.