There comes a time when you know – either intrinsically or based on a recommendation from a healthcare provider – that your current housing situation is no longer fulfilling or supporting your physical, emotional, mental, and social needs.
A challenging question to answer, however, is what level of care you require. While different types of retirement communities often get broadly lumped together, they incorporate various levels of senior care and amenities that result in noticeable distinctions and make them more suitable for particular individuals.
Choosing which type of elderly care is appropriate for you or your loved one depends on numerous factors, including physical health, social needs, cognitive abilities, and other more subjective preferences. When exploring the best West Seattle senior communities available to you, it’s important to keep in mind that each one is unique. Even though it is classified in a certain way, you can’t assume it will provide the living situation you need or desire, which is why you should do as much preliminary research as possible, take on-site tours, and ask questions before making a selection.
Types of Elderly Care
While most senior communities fall within a specific category of care, different levels of care can exist within a single campus. Here is a brief look at the primary types of elderly care available to seniors in Seattle.
1. 55+ Senior Communities
Typically, 55+ senior communities are campuses or neighborhoods designed for older adults who are active and independent but feel more socially and emotionally satisfied being surrounded by their peers. You can rent an apartment on a 55+ campus and have access to coordinated activities, social events with your peers, optional meals plans, and some level of physical security. This type of senior community does not include any care services or well-being checks.
2. Independent Living
When it comes to independent living vs. assisted living, there are several similarities that can lead to confusion. Independent living is designed for seniors who – as the name implies – are primarily independent. They are able to live on their own in an apartment or house with little to no assistance, yet desire the benefits of being part of a community with access to well being checks and some assistance if ever needed. Like assisted living facilities, independent living communities provide a range of services and amenities, such as social activities, dining, transportation, and security. If you need help with daily tasks, you can typically request it, but solely independent living facilities are not designed to provide medical care to seniors.
3. Assisted Living Programs
Assisted living is a primary alternative to in-home care for seniors who need help with certain personal hygiene activities – eating, dressing, bathing, etc – but who don’t require intensive nursing or memory care. Assisted living facilities can be part of larger retirement communities, senior housing complexes, or they can stand alone. They commonly offer a variety of useful services that make life more convenient and comfortable, such as help with daily activities, housekeeping and laundry, security, transportation, recreational programming, wellbeing checks and health monitoring. Meanwhile, seniors are free to live social lifestyles while receiving the assistance they need and can't access as consistently through in-home care.
4. Continuum Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) encompass several different types of accommodations to address the various levels of care, such as independent living for those who don’t require any assistance, assisted living, respite care, and nursing and rehabilitative care – all within a single campus. You generally move into a CCRC when you’re healthy and require the lowest level of care. Then, as you age or your mental and physical health changes, you can easily transfer to a more appropriate setting within the same community.
5. Skilled Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are one of the most intensive types of elderly care, besides hospitals and hospice care. Skilled nursing care facilities are designed for seniors who need short term rehab or long-term assistance with several personal tasks and who require daily – or potentially 24-hour – nursing supervision or rehabilitative care. Most of them are staffed 24-7 with certified nurses and nursing aides and other professionals to help with physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Certain nursing homes may also be set up to facilitate medical procedures performed by licensed professionals.
6. Memory Care
Memory care is a specific type of long-term elderly care that is targeted toward seniors who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other types of cognitive and memory problems. Memory care units, occasionally classified as special care units (SCUs), provide 24-hour supervised care for the safety and security of the residents. Memory care units or wings may be incorporated within assisted living communities, nursing homes, or other senior housing complexes. These environments are physically designed to better suit the needs and challenges of individuals struggling with memory loss.
Choosing Your Level of Senior Care
Deciding which level of care is necessary for you or your loved one is the first step in exploring your senior housing options in Seattle. It can be challenging to honestly evaluate your social, mental, and physical needs, but doing so is the only way to ensure you set yourself up to live comfortably and safely in the coming years. While you process your decision, speak with your physician and family members, along with the staff at senior communities such as Daystar Retirement Village, who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.
“Types of Senior Living and Levels of Senior Care.” SeniorLiving.org. Accessed online at https://www.seniorliving.org/care/cost/
“Nursing Homes.” MedlinePlus.com. Accessed online at https://medlineplus.gov/nursinghomes.html
“Assisted Living vs. Memory Care.” A Place For Mom blog. Accessed online at https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-3-4-assisted-living-vs-memory-care/
“Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)” Accessed online at https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/continuing-care-retirement-communities