Types of Senior Living

Independent Living Communities

In independent living communities, seniors live with almost complete independence in their own apartments, bungalows, or other styles of homes. Seniors often sell their houses and move into these communities so that they can be free of home maintenance tasks and enjoy their retirement more fully in a social setting. Other benefits of living in these communities include optional access to the cafeteria, pet-friendly amenities, help with laundry and other light housework, and even transportation. These communities are suitable for both couples and single seniors.  Independent living can cost roughly $2,500-$3,500 monthly, though pricing does vary widely based on local real estate markets. Typically, independent living costs far less than other forms of senior living since these facilities do not offer personal assistance with tasks other than cooking, chores, and transportation.

Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living communities often look like and have the same basic atmosphere as quality independent living communities. However, in an assisted living community seniors can get help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). This means that, if they need it, they can get daily assistance with numerous tasks including toileting, bathing, dressing, medication management, and more. However, assisted living communities are not equipped to provide anything more than minimal medical care. Those who use ventilators or feeding tubes or those who otherwise need continuous supervision, whether medical or behavioral, cannot live in an assisted living environment. Assisted living typically costs several thousand more dollars each year than an independent living community does. But it also includes a much more comprehensive set of services than independent living. According to Genworth Financial, the national median monthly cost of assisted living is $4,051. This number can be much higher or much lower depending on location and amenities.

Memory Care Communities

Memory care communities may be located in self-contained buildings or they may be located within other facilities that offer other levels of care. Regardless of location, security is paramount. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are prone to wandering, getting lost, and becoming agitated or bored. So these centers typically incorporate secure perimeters, alarms, and other safety features. Patients who live in these centers benefit from 24/7 supervision, a home-like environment, activities designed to be fulfilling and stimulating, and staff who specialize in helping seniors with memory impairment. In addition to services specifically intended for those with memory impairment, residents of memory care facilities can receive help with all ADL and IADLs. Just like in assisted living, seniors in these communities may be able to get minimal medical care. Memory care facilities require specialized staff training, more experienced staff members, and more security than ALFs. So they tend to be more expensive. As a general rule, expect memory care to cost between $1,000 and $4,000 more per month than assisted living in the same area. This translates to a cost anywhere from $4,300-$11,000 monthly. 

Nursing Homes 

Nursing homes represent the highest level of medical care that a senior can receive in a residential setting. They used to be the favored care solution for seniors who needed almost any form of help with ADLs and IADLs as well as for those who had any form of dementia. Now, medical professionals have recognized that nursing homes, which are often more like hospitals than anything else, are best reserved for those who need constant medical supervision.  Due to the operating costs associated with keeping an around-the-clock staff of medically trained personnel such as RNs and physicians, nursing homes are the most costly form of residential senior care. Staying in a nursing home for a month costs anywhere from about $7,900- $13,400, with $8,500 being the national median. It can easily be over twice the cost of assisted living in many cases.