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Which living choice is right for your retirement?

As we age, we start to make plans for the future – including where we are going to live during our retirement, and possibly for the rest of our lives.

There are many choices available to seniors today and the landscape is constantly changing. Just try an online search for “retirement community” and you’ll get thousands of results ranging from active adult communities to nursing homes. Determining what makes each type different can help you narrow down what’s best for your needs.

In this guide, you’ll find some definitions for the most commonly used terms in senior living.

Independent Living

Independent living communities are for seniors who are ready to give up home maintenance chores for a simpler lifestyle. Residents are usually in good health and can manage their day to day activities without any additional help. They may live in apartments, townhomes, or duplexes on a senior living campus.

Independent living communities offer many amenities – from swimming pools, fitness center, fine dining, even movie theatres. They also offer activities for their residents from art classes, games, off-site outings etc.

Assisted Living

Assisted living provides older adults support with their daily tasks but still allows them to live mostly independently.

Residents may get assistance with housekeeping, managing their medication, as well as with activities of daily living such as bathing or dressing. Residents also get prepared meals.

Assisted living communities also offer amenities such as fitness centers, restaurant-style dining, even beauty salons. They also have a calendar full of activities for their residents from games to trips off campus.

Long-term care

Communities that offer long-term care provide their residents an opportunity to maintain their quality of life while receiving around the clock care.

Besides housing and meals, many long-term care facilities provide personal care for tasks such as bathing or using the bathroom, physical or speech therapy, social and recreational activities, and medical care if needed.

Continuing care retirement communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) – sometimes referred to as life plan communities -- often a senior living campus with a continuum of lifestyle, housing, and healthcare options.

They have options for independent living, assisted living, and long-term care. Some also offer dedicated memory care programs for people living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia as well as hospice services for end-of-life care.

CCRCs, like Topeka Presbyterian Manor, are known for providing peace of mind for their residents who know they can receive the level of support they need as their health requirements change. CCRC residents often get priority access to higher levels of care when the time comes.

Active adult communities

These types of communities usually cater to people over 55 years old and are the most “independent” living option. Residents live completely independently, and the homes range from single-family homes to duplexes, or condos often owned by the person living there.

These communities are usually neighborhoods with added amenities such as clubhouses, pools, tennis courts or fitness center. The residents pay fees to a homeowner association that maintains the facilities. The fees may also include landscaping or snow-clearing services.

Active adult communities do not include dining plans or dining areas.

Affordable Housing

Affordable senior housing is similar to a retirement community, but the rental prices for residential units are below market rate, supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This senior living option includes government-subsidized housing, public housing, or supportive housing.

In order to qualify for the various affordable senior housing subsidy programs, a senior must meet certain financial criteria, and possibly functional requirements, which can vary by state.

Home Care

Many older adults choose to continue living in their own home with the help of in-home care services. These professional caregivers can provide assistance with many daily living tasks such as using the bathroom, bathing, cooking and cleaning. They may also be able to provide physical therapy or medication management. There are many types of home care services and the costs can vary widely as well.

The chart below can help you figure out which senior living options may be right for you based on your current needs and your expectation for the future.

It’s a lot to think about and here At Topeka Presbyterian Manor, we’ll be glad to guide you through the plans and process. Call Chris Phelps at 785-256-0946 or email him at or contact us online.

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