Senior Housing and Senior Care Options

Types of Senior Housing And Senior Care

Finding compassionate, quality housing and care services for yourself or a loved one can be challenging and confusing.  AsYouAge helps sort through and explain the available options.

There are 3 basic types of Senior Housing and Care Choices:

        1.  Aging In Place / Independent Living

        2.  Assisted Living

        3.  Long Term Care

AsYouAge explains these basic choices, as well as several variations associated with each type of Senior living, including:

  1.   Aging In Place and Independent Living

  2.   Retirement Communities and NORCs

  3.   Senior Assisted Living Communities

  4.   Long Term Care Nursing Homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities

  5.   Special Care Units

  6.   Hospice Care

  7.   Continuing Care Retirement Communities

AsYouAge provides information about independent living, other senior housing options, Senior home care services and much more.  Read on.

1. Aging In Place and In-Home Care

With aging in place, Individuals choose to remain in their homes and community (or a place of their choice) as they grow older.  Aging in place refers to people living as independently as possible, using products and services that enable them to stay where they are as their needs change.  Compared to the other types of Senior Living choices, aging in place is generally the least costly option.

    At-Home Care (Non-Medical) helps Seniors Age In Place

In-home care for those who prefer to remain in their homes as they age is generally given by caregivers hired to visit the home of a senior and provide non-medical assistance with the activities of daily living (ADL).

They can also provide non-medical care with activities like bathing, dressing, grooming, bathroom and personal care, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry, linen changes, meal preparation, mobility, companionship, errands, bill paying and more.

In-home care promotes independence and allows the senior to maintain as much freedom as possible in the comfort of their own home.

Costs for in-home care range from $19 to $27 an hour (minimum of 2 to 4 hours) depending on the level of care and services provided.  Home care costs also depend on where you live.


    Independent Living Retirement Communities

A variation of aging in place, Independent living communities and retirement communities are designed for seniors who require very little or no assistance with the activities of daily living.

Often Independent Living Retirement Communities are residential communities or urban living complexes that provide recreational, educational and social opportunities for seniors. In addition, some independent living communities offer services and amenities  like transportation, housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation.

The cost of independent living or retirement communities averages$1900 to $3600 or more per month depending on amenities and where you live.

2.  Assisted Living Facilities and Communities

Assisted living communities are an intermediate step between independent living and nursing homes.

They are designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation, but do not need full-time nursing care.

Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Some communities do offer specialized care for Alzheimer's and dementia residents, including a secure environment to prevent 'wandering', a common symptom of the disease.

Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living. Most residents pay for the cost from their own personal funds or through  family assistance.

Assisted living costs run $2500 to $4500 or more per month depending on the state, apartment size and level of care provided.

    Special Care Units: Alzheimer's Care and Memory Care

Specialized care for residents with Alzheimer's and other dementias  may be provided in either an assisted living facility or a nursing home setting. A secure environment is provided to prevent 'wandering', a common symptom of the disease.  Residents usually have access to secured outdoor walking paths or gardens.

3.  Long-Term Care                                                        
A nursing home or skilled nursing facility (SNF) provides around-the-clock nursing care supervision for residents with chronic conditions, or those needing rehabilitative or convalescent care following hospitalization. 

Most nursing homes have services and staff to address issues and provide services related to nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality and medical care.

Some facilities also offer specialized care for Alzheimer's and dementia residents, including a secure environment to prevent 'wandering', a common symptom of the disease.

Nursing homes are usually licensed by the state and regulated by the federal government.

  1.   Medicare pays for short-term skilled nursing care, but not for the long term.

  2. Medicaid and private pay are generally the most common sources of payment for nursing home care.

Generally, nursing home care costs range from $4000 to $7000 or more per month depending on the state and level of nursing care that is provided.

    Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are residential communities designed to provide for the changing care needs of its residents. 

The goal of these communities is to allow residents to "age in place" by providing a continuum of care.  That means if  a resident suffers an illness or injury, the necessary health care services will be available within the community and the person will not have to move elsewhere to obtain the care they need regardless of how long they live in the community. (The term "continuum of care" refers to all of the services that people need as they age being available through one service provider or on one campus. )

CCRCs offer all the benefits of independent living, assisted living, comprehensive healthcare services, memory care, on-site rehabilitation and skilled care, on-site, whenever it is needed.

Within the campus community, Seniors can move back and forth among Independent Living, Assisted Living, and skilled Nursing Care units based on their changing needs at each point in time.

There is generally a variety of housing options and unit sizes in CCRCs. Most offer common dining room, activity and exercise areas, outdoor recreation and swimming pools.

You can choose the service program that best suits our current lifestyle and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can always add more services if your needs change

There is usually an entrance fee to live Continuing Care Retirement Communities.  These fees can be considerable - ranging from $10,000 to $500,000 or more.  Housing ownership in a CCRC is usually for a lifetime, and then reverts back to the developer or corporate owner; rarely does it remain with the resident’s estate past his/her lifetime.  A very detailed contract spells out services provided by the community,a s well as the terms and conditions of ownership.

In addition to the entrance fee, the monthly cost for Continuing Care Retirement Communities varies, beginning at $2000 per month and going as high as $7100 per month or more, depending on location, amenities and level of care offered in each community.

Licensed home care for seniors includes nursing, therapy and at-home hospice.

Residential Care Homes (Board and Care Homes)
Smaller, more personal versions of Assisted Living Communities  are Residential Care Homes.  Sometimes called board and care homes, they are private, group homes that provide 24-hour supervision and assist with the activities of daily living and non-medical care for a small group of residents.

The cost of residential care is generally $1500 to $3000 or more per month, depending on the location, level of care and amenities offered.

Most Seniors prefer to live in their own homes and communities as they age.

Home care services enable many Seniors to live independently at home.

Most Independent Living communities offer a variety of    educational, social and recreational opportunities for active Seniors.

Seniors can have health care services provided for them at home by licensed healthcare professionals.

Many Seniors will choose maintenance-free independent living communities for retirement.

Independent Living Communities offer Seniors independence and maintenance-free living in an active social community composed of people 55 and older.

Residential Care Homes offer non-medical assisted living in a home-like setting.

Residential care homes provide room, board and 24 hour assistance and supervision for a  very small number of residents.

    Hospice Care

Hospice Care (at hospice centers, at home or at other patient locations) provide hospice services for terminally ill patients in a homelike, non-institutional environment. 

Hospice services include symptom and pain management for terminally ill individuals and emotional, spiritual, and bereavement support for the individual and family.   

Hospice Care Centers may offer levels of care such as:

  1. Continuous care for a minimum eight hours a day of one-to-one services with assessment and supervision by a registered nurse.

  2. General inpatient care where a registered nurse is on site twenty-four hours a day for assessment and supervision.

  3. Inpatient respite care for patients whose caregiver requires short term relief of their caregiving duties.

  4. Routine home care as the core level of services not listed above. 

State licensing of Hospice centers was established in 2002.  The Department of Health enforces minimum health and safety by periodically conducting surveys of these special care centers. 

Hospice Care Centers may voluntarily seek approval for certification by the federal Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Costs for end-of-life care in a Hospice center is about one-third the cost of institutional hospital care costs; home hospice is even less.

Non-medical home care services run about $19 to $27 an hour.

Assisted living offers a safe, comfortable, social environment for Seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).

Assisted living is an intermediate step between independent living and a nursing home.

Many Assisted Living Communities can accommodate one hundred or more residents.  The building may be divided into wings that can provide additional, more specialized care services for residents needing long or short-term rehabilitation, respite or Alzheimer’s care. 

Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing homes provide medical services for patients needing 24 hour health care and supervision or are recuperating from a recent hospital stay.

Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities tend to be more hospital-oriented because of the nature of the services they provide for residents.

The cost of care for Alzheimer's patients  is about $3500 to $7000 or more per month depending on the geographic location, apartment or room size and the level of care needed.

Every 70 seconds another  American develops Alzheimer’s disease.

Hospice Care Centers provide end-of-life care for terminally ill patients in a homelike, non-institutional environment.

Hospice focuses primarily on pain management, emotional and spiritual health as the terminally ill approach death.

Aerial view of a Continuing Care Retirement Community Campus

Life care communities tend to be more expensive than other Senior housing options because they cover more. On the other hand, they save residents money by offsetting the need for long-term care insurance.

Hospice care can be provided at home, in a nursing facility or a hospice care center.

    Licensed Home Health Care For Seniors

Many Seniors who choose to live independently and age in place  do so with help from licensed home health care providers.  Licensed home health care involves medical services provided by licensed healthcare professionals in the home of a senior. These services can include blood draws, IV therapy, physical, occupational and speech therapy, hospice care, etc. that have been prescribed by a doctor.

Costs of licensed home health care for Seniors is higher than non-licensed home care services.  Fees depend on which services are needed and how often they are provided.
Consumer Reports
Nursing Home Guide

Consumers can increase their odds of choosing a good nursing home if they narrow their search to certain types. 

The findings of the Consumer Reports Nursing Home Guide:

 Not-for-profit nursing homes are more likely to provide good care than for-profit nursing homes, based on inspection surveys, staffing, and quality indicators.

 Independently run nursing homes are more likely to provide good care than chains.

 Through its influence in politics, the industry has whittled down the protections of the 1987 nursing home reform law.

 Find the complete Consumer Report Nursing Home Guide 

You can find an extensive amount of information about Assisted Living in the Health Section of the U.S. Government’s MedlinePlus website.  Provides Free, Reliable Senior Information and Resources

The content on is provided as a courtesy for our site visitors. The information, resources, links, advertisements and other material on AsYouAge does not constitute a professional opinion or advice; nor does it constitute an endorsement of any organization or the information, products and/or services they may offer. AsYouAge reviews and updates its content regularly when new and relevant information is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional advice in any area: health, medical, legal, insurance, financial or any other area. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider, or caregiver, attorney, financial, insurance expert or other specialist prior to starting, dropping or changing your current program or have questions or concerns  regarding current or anticipated issues.


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