By Carrie Vittitoe
Illustration by Brittany Granville
The terminology surrounding senior care can be confusing. What’s the difference between assisted living and skilled nursing? What exactly is independent living? The industry happens to be in the midst of rebranding continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) as life plan communities, which may further contribute to the general public’s confusion.
Whether they are referred to as CCRCs or life plan communities, the concept is the same: they are senior living communities that provide different types of accommodations for seniors. Many offer independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and even memory care. Not every CCRC offers every type of care, and it can be difficult for individuals and their adult children to know which community is a good fit for a senior’s needs. In order to allay some confusion, we’ve asked a number of experts from local CCRCs to help clarify things.
Jim Patton, vice president of mission advancement/general counsel, Christian Care Communities
Q: My mom needs help with daily activities such as showers and pill maintenance. Does assisted living provide that?
Assisted living is exactly as it sounds. There are staff to take care of the personal activities of daily living. Often the person will have special training to help take care of 24/7/365 issues such as medical issues, medication reminders, dressing, and bathing — all of the levels of care that may get difficult with aging.
With assisted living, the senior care community will generally schedule an interview with a social worker and the senior, and they will complete an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assessment. This assessment will help guide the senior and family on what level and types of personalized care are needed. Then everyone can make an informed decision they can feel good about. If it’s found there may be dementia concerns, the senior, along with her family, can begin identifying available housing and resources to support that journey, too.