Why Selecting a CCRC May Hasten Your Transition into Skilled Long-Term Care
- What are independent living communities?
- What are assisted living communities?
- What are continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)?
- Which services are available in a CCRC?
- Help with finding senior living communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area
When you're searching for a senior living community for yourself or an older loved one, navigating the system can be complex and confusing. There are so many options out there that finding the right fit can seem like an insurmountable task.
For example, many senior living communities focus on offering one or two services exclusively. These services may include independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer's/memory care/dementia care, or skilled nursing facilities (also known as nursing homes).
Often you’ll see assisted living communities include Alzheimer’s/memory care, sometimes adding independent living and other times just offering independent only. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) often include all of these services but there’s an important distinction when they also offer skilled nursing care. When planning where the older adult will live, their needs today and into the future both need to be considered.
In other words, while many older adults prefer to live independently now, what happens when, as they age, they start needing elevated care offered in assisted living? This scenario marks the most significant difference between the most prevalent senior living options on the market: independent living, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)
What are independent living communities?
Independent living communities are for older people who can live entirely on their own without requiring any assistance. Many of these homes are advertised as retirement villages, offering a mix of fun social activities, often in a tranquil location.
However, living in a standalone independent living community does not give residents access to healthcare services, including nurses, physicians, or services usually offered in assisted living facilities. Nor do they have access to memory care should the older adult be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. There are no rehabilitation facilities if an older adult is in an accident, slips and falls, or otherwise becomes seriously injured.
All medical care has to be retained independently to ensure that all healthcare needs are met. Should older people need specialized assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing, they will most likely need to move.
The stress and logistics of looking for an assisted living facility, packing up your home, and relocating can be overwhelming and costly to older adults, which can make health matters even worse.
What are assisted living communities?
Assisted living communities are for older adults who can not live entirely on their own and require assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting, and dressing. Many of these communities may include independent living, often include Alzheimer’s/memory care, and provide a mix of fun social activities and transportation services in a supportive environment.
Living in an assisted living community can give residents access to healthcare services, including nursing. Each community may look the same but it is important to fully understand the medical acuity each assisted living community can support. Some are more lifestyle-focused while others designed to support a high care level.
Choosing the right assisted living community is key to being able to live out one's life in a senior living community where they can thrive and have the best quality of life possible.
What are continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)?
CCRCs, which are also known as life care communities, are senior living communities that boast a wide assortment of benefits and amenities that vary with each facility. Sample benefits include maintenance-free living, in which repairs and interior and exterior maintenance of the older person's residence is included in their living costs. Amenities within the community include beauty salons and barbershops, games rooms, community activities, swimming pools, golf courses, fitness centers, and social events.
A critical feature of CCRCs is the full continuum of healthcare services within the community itself. Services for older people at CCRCs include assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care.
Having these services all under one roof means that regardless of which stage of aging you're currently in, or if your needs change over time, you won't have to change communities to access these services if you're already living within a CCRC.
Which services are available in a CCRC?
Living in a CCRC gives you easier access to many services designed to look after your health needs, including:
- Assisted living: People in assisted living receive help with daily care needs. Typically, a few different levels of care are offered in assisted living that a resident can take advantage of based on their needs. Assisted living residents usually live in their own apartments and share common areas with other residents. Assisted living services include up to three meals per day, help with personal care such as bathing, grooming, and dressing, medication management, laundry, housekeeping, 24-hour supervision, onsite staff, security, and social and recreational activities.
- Memory care: Memory care is very similar to assisted living but is specifically geared toward people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or another progressive cognitive condition. Memory care therapies are delivered by professionals with specialized training. As the older adult progresses through their Alzheimer's disease or dementia journey, the level of care increases so that services are always delivered aligned with the person's current needs.
- Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes): Similar to assisted living and memory care, skilled nursing facilities provide a wide range of health and personal care services. However, a greater emphasis is placed on medical care in nursing homes, where the resident can also access rehabilitation services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Although some people stay in nursing homes temporarily after being in the hospital, most residents live there permanently for the constant care and supervision required to meet their ongoing medical needs.
Where you live in a CCRC depends on the level of healthcare services you need. For example, suppose the older person can no longer live independently. In that case, they will either receive home care in their independent living unit or move to the assisted living facility in the community. In some cases, older adults will move into the CCRC's onsite nursing home.
The primary benefit of living in a CCRC is not having to change communities should you need upgraded medical care. Every service is within the CCRC already, and you can enjoy your vintage years with peace of mind that your health needs will always be taken care of.
However, as you progress through the levels of care you will likely need to move within the CCRC campus. And, most importantly, as your level of care increases, the community offering skilled nursing services will have great financial incentives to push a resident into their skilled nursing unit versus providing needed care within their assisted living area. Many residents find themselves in skilled nursing much sooner within CCRCs than had they chosen the non-CCRC option.
Help with finding senior living communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area
Navigating the world of senior living communities is a challenge for many families, especially if they're searching for the right living arrangement on their own. The process can be confusing, there are many pitfalls to watch out for, and so many details to consider that making an informed choice can be overwhelming.
Assisted Living Locators of Greater Cincinnati can help you find the most appropriate senior living community for your loved one. We take the time to get to know your loved one's needs, answer all of your questions, and present a list of the best-matched independent senior living, assisted living, Alzheimer's/memory care, and continuing care retirement communities in your area. We'll even accompany you on your community tours and help ensure all your questions are answered and your concerns addressed.
Contact Assisted Living Locators of Greater Cincinnati to start finding the best senior living services for your loved one today.