Senior Living: An Insider's Guide

Healthy and active lifestyles for older adults are easier than ever to accomodate. Why? Growing consumer demand and the vocal majority of Boomers heading into retirement. Here’s a useful primer on senior living, Madison-style.

Living 101

The extensive, intimate and often luxurious options that modern senior living facilities have to offer help make life as a retiree both comfortable and enjoyable. Whether it’s an independent living unit or a skilled nursing facility, their goal is to provide residents with the medical and social assistance they require in a homelike atmosphere, while allowing them as much flexibility and freedom in their daily lives as possible.

Independent Living

Able-bodied seniors who wish to maintain the freedom and flexibility of an autonomous lifestyle live in a private, easy-to-maintain residence, usually an apartment that’s part of a larger senior living community.

Residential Care Apartment Complexes

This new option allows residents to maintain their own private apartments while medical and housekeeping assistance increases as necessary. The convenient arrangement allows seniors the luxury of “aging in place” in a personal environment. Nursing services are available up to a max of twenty-eight hours a week.

Assisted Living

Often considered the best of both worlds, assisted living allows residents a great deal of privacy and independence, as well as security in knowing that both medical and personal care are available. Living options range from apartments to continuing care retirement communities and a wide variety of care plans are available.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Ideal for seniors who don’t want to worry about where they will live and what services they will need as time goes on, residents may start out living independently and then move into more attentive facilities as needs arise. Contracts guarantee a
continuum of room and board, medical care, nursing assistance and social
services for the rest of their lives.

Community-Based Residential Facility

These provide medical and social services to seniors who are no longer capable of living on their own but don’t require extensive skilled nursing care. Both private and semi-private accommodations in a senior living neighborhood or complex are available and include meals, housekeeping services, dressing and bathing assistance, and medical supervision, which usually includes three hours per week of intimate nursing care. Since these facilities are focused on group living, social activities abound.

Adult Day Services

Day centers allow seniors “to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible,” according to the National Adult Day Services Association. Staff caters to the physical, mental and social needs of community members through group activities such as games or crafts, reading, watching TV and socializing by providing services such as physical therapy and exercise. Medical care is often included.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

These long-term-care facilities (or nursing homes), are for patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities who require frequent personal attention. They offer 24-hour service such as nursing assistance, rehabilitation and physical therapy, and other treatments specific to the conditions of the patients.

Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled nursing services may be privately contracted by patients who desire to remain in their homes, but still require medical care on a daily basis. Services are administered by a registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse and include dressing and tending of complicated wounds, intravenous and intramuscular injections and insertion of catheters and feeding tubes.

Memory Care

Provided for patients diagnosed with conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or who struggle with at least two areas of daily living, facilities allow patients to maintain as high a level of independence as possible while relying on the safety and security of living with a skilled staff to assist them should they need it. Daily schedules revolve around activities designed to enhance patients’ memory skills.

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