What is Senior Living?

Author: The Seniorly Team

| Posted on: April,05 | Viewed: 3377 times

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Senior living is a broad category of housing for older adults that includes terms such as assisted living, memory care, active adult, 55+ housing, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Senior living communities are built for folks simply looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle to those that need 24-hour medical care. We’ve put together this guide to explain some of the most common property types of senior living.

Housing for Independent Older Adults

Senior Apartments, sometimes also called Age-Restricted Apartments, are conventional apartment buildings for older adults. Often they are built in areas zoned for age-restriction, and many times the rent is subsidized by a governmental organization (known as Affordable Senior Housing). Senior Apartments do not usually offer any services or special amenities for seniors, although there are some exceptions.

Active Adult Living, also called 55+ Housing, are apartment buildings, condominiums, and/or suburban housing developments for people over 55. The bulk of these properties offer units for sale, although there are some rental properties included. Many of these communities are “lifestyle” focused, catering to folks in their 60s and 70s looking to downsize. They typically include a clubhouse with a lively social calendar, and many times are located on golf courses. They usually do not include care services or dining. There is a growing trend of people hiring in-home care as care needs come up to remain in these communities.

Independent Senior Living are typically large hotel-like communities. They often are full-service including housekeeping, transportation, dining, and social engagement. These communities are more expensive than conventional apartments, but are purpose built to allow folks an easy retirement. Many of these communities have partnerships with in-home care agencies and can offer care services for those that want to remain in the community.

Housing with Assistance for Seniors

Assisted Living is the most common type of senior living. These communities come in all shapes and sizes, but are meant to deliver 24-hour non-medical care. They typically do not have nurses or doctors on staff, and instead focus on assistance with Activities of Daily Living like eating, bathing, dressing, etc.

Residential Care Home, also known as Board and Care Homes, are small home-like properties that deliver the same services as larger Assisted Living communities. They are often single family homes that have been converted to care for 4-6 people. They are usually a more affordable choice to larger Assisted Living communities, but do not have the same level of services and amenities.

Alzheimer’s Care, also known as Memory Care, are typically wings inside large Assisted Living communities that focus on non-medical care for residents with Alzheimer’s or other Dementia related diseases. There are some “stand alone” communities that only accept residents with dementia. These are typically purpose built communities designed for people with cognitive impairment or behavioral issues associated with their dementia.

Skilled Nursing Facilities, also known as Nursing Homes, are senior living communities that deliver medical care. They are public paid through Medicare or Medicaid programs. Often older adults are in SNFs for a short period of time, rehabilitation period, before returning home after a medical procedure. Custodial care, or long-term care, in Skilled Nursing Facilities is when residents move into these communities long-term.

Aging-In-Place Housing

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also called Life Plan Communities, are developments built to allow older adults to age-in-place. This means that they can support all levels of care from fully independent seniors to 24-hour medical care. They typically have large entrance, or buy-in fees, that then allow residents to pay a flat monthly fee no matter what level of care they need.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE programs, are comprehensive social and medical services for older adults who are dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Seniors in this program must switch all their medical services to the PACE program, and benefit from care at home, in day programs, and Skilled Nursing. PACE programs are growing and becoming a strong alternative to the struggling Skilled Nursing segment.

There are more segments within each of these categories, but this list includes the major property types in senior living communities. To learn more about senior living communities visit Seniorly’s Senior Care Resource Center.


About The Seniorly Team

Seniorly is a marketplace that empowers families to find senior living communities and connects them with local senior living referral agents. We also have hundreds of resources to help our families Age Well!


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