When considering which type of housing is best for you or a loved one, consider the needs, wants, and personality of your family member when making this determination. For some people, staying in their current home works best, but for others, there may come a time when everyone agrees that a different housing option is needed.
The good news is that there are many housing options to choose from. The key is to make the right choice—matching the housing to the needs, wants, and personality of your older family member.
Whether you need answers and information immediately, or simply want to explore future housing possibilities for yourself or a loved one, we have information and resources that can help make this a pleasant and painless process.
Many senior living communities offer a continuum of care, sometimes called “step care” or “progressive” care facilities. They offer a wide range of options, all the way from independent living to special care on the same campus. Residents are usually admitted when they live independently. As their needs increase, residents are able to transfer to other areas of care within the community. We invite you to browse this section of our website for more information, or view our Blue Book Directory of Resources for more in-depth description and guidance.
Independent senior living communities, also known as retirement communities, senior living communities or independent retirement communities, are housing generally designed for seniors 55 and older.
Independent senior living communities commonly provide apartments, cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Residents are seniors who do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing but may benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities that these communities offer.
Many retirement communities offer dining services, basic housekeeping and laundry services, transportation to appointments and errands, activities, social programs, and access to exercise equipment. Some also offer emergency alert systems, live-in managers, and amenities like pools, spas, clubhouses, and on-site beauty and barber salons.
Independent senior living properties do not provide health care or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as medication, bathing, eating, dressing, toileting and more. Independent senior living differs from continuing care communities, which offer independent living along with multiple other levels of care, such as assisted living and skilled nursing, in one single residence.
Seniors who may benefit from less home upkeep and increased access to nutritious meals, social interaction, physical and mental stimulation, and transportation make ideal independent senior living community residents.
Assisted living facilities, also called residential care facilities, offer residents a place where they can receive basic assistance in one or more of the following areas: housekeeping, meal preparation, 24-7 monitoring, shower assistance, toileting, medication assistance or reminders, transportation, eating, dressing, activities, or socialization. The primary difference between residential care and assisted living is that residents of residential care facilities mus be able to get to a place of safety independently in the event of an emergency.
In assisted living, residents will likely have their own apartment, unless one consents to sharing a room with someone. A private bathroom is most often in the apartment to allow for privacy and dignity. Most apartments will have a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, refrigerator, and cupboard space. Each apartment will likely be climate controlled individually. There are common spaces for all residents to enjoy including a TV room, an activity room, dining room, library, and communal sitting areas.
Assisted living facilities are designed for people who need help with complex activities of daily living (ADL) on a daily basis. Basic ADLs include eating, bathing, dressing, and hygiene. More complex ADLs include cooking, shopping and money management. Assisted living aims to be the mid- point between independent living and long-term care.
Most assisted living facilities have a dining room decorated like a restaurant as well as a variety of activities. Special diets are accommodated and some facilities offer a choice of menu selections. Most assisted living facilities are not licensed to administer IVs, requiring patients who need IVs to temporarily relocate to a skilled nursing facility.
Residential care and assisted living communities help many individuals overcome the feeling of lonliness and isolation by offering residents the opportunity to make new friends, develop new interests, and discover and experience what is most important at this stage of your life.
Short-term home care services can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of months while someone is recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery. In these instances, home care is a beneficial temporary solution. For example, many home care agencies offer special short-term services to help seniors make a smooth transition from the hospital back to their homes.
Depending on the senior’s needs, one or more professional caregivers may be assigned. A “custodial caregiver” can provide unskilled assistance with activities of daily living and household tasks like bathing, dressing, mobility, laundry and preparing meals. Ensuring that a loved one is getting their medications and groceries and that they do not have to see to chores will help them recuperate faster.
Skilled care may be provided in the home for dressing wounds, dispensing medications, monitoring vital signs, or providing physical, speech, or occupational therapies. For example, following a stroke, a visiting physical therapist might be needed on a short-term basis to help a senior regain their balance and coordination. Once your loved one has recovered, these services will no longer be needed.
Skilled nursing (also called nursing homes or rest homes) offers 24-hour skilled nursing care and medical oversight and is the first level of care that is licensed to administer medical treatment with nurses. A skilled nursing facility is a lot like a nursing home and oftentimes referred to as the same; both offer advanced level, around-the-clock care for their residents. In skilled nursing facilities, residents do not have to be able to get to a place of safety independently. To live in a nursing home, you need to require a certain level of care and admission must be initiated by a person’s physician, who recommends that a patient enter either ‘rehab care’ or a ‘special care’ facility.
Before MO HealthNet will pay for skilled nursing care, a person must qualify for a level of care. This determination is made by the Division of Senior Services. Skilled nursing facilities also provide rehabilitation after an injury, surgery, or hospital stay. This is the only time Medicare will pay for skilled nursing care.
Skilled nursing facilities are commonly used for short-term rehabilitative stays. Extending stays into longer-term care must be medically necessary for the treatment of a serious medical condition and is largely dependent on state and federal benefit regulations. Many patients are admitted to skilled nursing to address an acute condition such as rehabilitating a broken hip, or treating an infection with IV antibiotics.
Long-term care services are generally for seniors with chronic and/or progressive conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In these instances, regular assistance and care are required, and the client’s needs are likely to increase with time.
Most family members have no experience or training in caring for a chronically ill person at home. Bathing is one thing, but changing a colostomy bag, suctioning secretions from a tracheotomy tube, or monitoring a ventilator is more than most family caregivers can safely take on. In these particular cases, skilled home care is hired on a long-term basis until the senior’s needs exceed what can be provided in the home. Around-the-clock supervision and higher levels of care and training may become necessary, therefore home health care may no longer be the best option. Services usually conclude when the elder moves to an assisted living facility or long-term nursing facility.
Memory care is a distinct form of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory problems. Memory care goes beyond what is traditionally offered in an assisted living setting. Housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation services are provided but the level of assistance with other activities of daily living is dramatically increased. Often the daily activities are designed specially to allow the individual to reconnect with favorite hobbies or interests.
At a memory care community, skilled staff handle all the responsibilities of life—from housekeeping and laundry to meal preparation and transportation. Assistance with activities of daily living is also a standard service offering.
Because of the unique challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia pose, many communities may only provide memory care, or in the cases of a continuing care community, have a neighborhood solely for residents requiring memory care. Often these communities incorporate design elements that research has shown to lower stress in individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These elements include increased natural lighting, memory boxes outside the room and a circular neighborhood design that allows for safe wandering.
Subsidized rental housing allows eligible tenants to pay a reduced rental rate based on income. It is a federal program funded either by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development or the USDA Rural Development Office, depending on the location.
These facilities may be open to families or restricted to seniors and disabled individuals