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Senior Citizen's Guide

Retirement Living Options

There really is no place like home. When asked about their preference for housing, most seniors answer, "What l would really like to do is to stay right here." A person's own home represents security and independence to most Americans.

Most housing, however, is designed for young, active, and mobile people. To live at home, a person must, at the very least, have access to transportation, and be able to go shopping, cook, and do household chores. Many of us will lose one or more of these abilities as we grow older.

One option is to purchase in home services to cope with declining abilities. For a fee, an army of workers will appear to cut your grass, wash your windows, cook your meals, do the shopping, and even provide personal care and/or skilled nursing care. This may be the option for you, depending on the amount of help you need. This can be expensive, however, and will require a lot of management and coordination.

For people willing to relocate, there are plenty of options, although there may be some confusion about what all the terms mean.

Independent Communities

Independent living differs in terms of medical services offered depending on where you live. Occupants generally require no extra assistance with daily tasks. Independent housing includes everything from houses to townhouses to apartments. The only determining factor that makes it different from other housing without medical services is the elderly residents don't require help. If independent living is a part of an established pay community, such as in the case of a CCRC, the services offered to the dependent population are the same ones offered to the independent population if they choose to use them.

Senior Apartments

Senior apartments are a good choice for older adults that can take care of themselves. Usually, these apartments are developed like standard apartments, but differ in that they have an age-restriction. Some apartments are also equipped with assistive technology such as hand rails and pull cords to aid you. Overall, these apartments are great if you're looking for a community of elderly neighbors without the hassles of a larger home to manage.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

A continuing care retirement community is a gate secured campus offering independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It usually provides a written contract between the resident and the community, which offers a continuum of housing, services, and health care services, commonly all on one campus. CCRC residents enjoy an independent lifestyle with the knowledge that if they become sick or frail, their needs will continue to be met. In general, residents are expected to move into the community while they are still independent and able to take care of themselves.

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are designed for individuals who cannot function in an independent living environment but do not need nursing care on a daily basis. Assisted living communities usually offer help with bathing, dressing, meals, and housekeeping. The amount of help provided depends on individual need. Many assisted living facilities also have professional nurses and other health care professionals on staff or available on call should a resident require special care. Medicaid and Medicare cover some long-term care offered by assisted living, and some assisted living communities offer subsidies or other forms of financial aid on the basis of individual need.

Nursing Facilities

Nursing Homes are one of the most widely recognized types of housing for the elderly. They provide care for individuals who need nursing care without being in a hospital. A doctor supervises this type of care and state boards of health regulate these facilities. Nursing homes also offer short-term and respite care for those whom need rehabilitation care.

Board & Care Homes

Board and care homes are smaller in scale than assisted living facilities. They provide a room, meals, and help with daily activities. Some states will allow some nursing services to be provided, but these homes are not medical facilities. These homes may be unlicensed, and even licensed homes are infrequently monitored by the state.

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