Senior Housing 101

With so many options available, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the variety of care types and styles of senior living communities available today. Learn the terminology and the features and benefits of memory care, independent living, assisted living, home care, residential care homes, nursing homes, respite care and senior apartments so you can make the right choice.

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Senior Housing Options

Assisted Living

For seniors needing daily assistance with personal care

  • Private and semi-private suites
  • Transportation services
  • Medication management
  • 3 meals a day
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Social outings and events
  • Health and exercise programs
  • 24-hour access to caregivers
  • Also known as Assisted Care Communities and Personal Care Homes
  • Payment sources: Mostly private pay, some take Medicaid
  • Price range: $2,500 – $4,000 per month

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Independent Living Communities

For seniors seeking community

  • Transportation services
  • Up to 3 meals a day, with custom-designed meal packages available
  • Weekly housekeeping
  • Social outings and events
  • As needed in-home care
  • Also called Retirement Communities, Congregate Care, Retirement Villages, 55+ Communities, Senior Apartments, Continuing Care Retirement Communities
  • Payment sources: Mostly private pay and some federal funding through Section 202
  • Price range: $1,500 – $3,500 per month

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Memory Care

For seniors with moderate or advanced cognitive impairment

  • Assisted living with specialized memory care services and programming
  • Specialized training for staff
  • Secured environments
  • Activities and events
  • Also called Alzheimer’s Care or Dementia Care
  • Payment sources: Private pay or Medicaid
  • Price range: $3,000 – $7,000 per month

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Senior Apartments

For active seniors looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle

  • Communities geared to adults over the age of 55
  • Often feature amenities such as golf, swimming pools, tennis courts and fitness centers
  • May include fees that cover utilities, landscaping services, home maintenance and security
  • Do not include personal care services
  • Payment sources: Private pay
  • Price range: Varies

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Nursing Homes

For seniors with conditions that require around-the-clock skilled nursing care

  • Typically shared bedrooms
  • 24-hour skilled nursing services provided by licensed nurses
  • Meals served in central dining
  • Activities
  • May include short-term rehabilitative care
  • May include memory care
  • Also known as Convalescent Care, Nursing Centers, Skilled Nursing, Long Term Care Facilities
  • Payment sources: Private pay, Medicare/Medicaid
  • Price range: $4,000 – $8,000 per month

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Residential Care Homes

For seniors needing assistance who prefer a private home environment

  • Shared or private bedrooms
  • Live-in caretakers
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and meal preparation (Activities of Daily Living)
  • Range of amenities (ask when touring)
  • Range of nursing services (ask when touring)
  • Also known as Board and Care Homes, Group Homes, Adult Family Homes
  • Payment sources: Private pay and Medicaid
  • Price range: $1,500 – $3,000 per month

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Home Care

For seniors needing assistance who want to age in place

  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and meal preparation (Activities of Daily Living)
  • Support for transportation, bill-paying and setting appointments (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living)
  • Also known as Home Health Care, Home Care Aides, In-Home Personal Care
  • Payment sources: Private pay and Medicare/Medicaid for certified home health agencies
  • Price range: $20 / $40 per hour

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