When you begin to look at senior living and care for your loved one, it’s important to know what the options are. This will allow you and your loved one to make an informed decision together, help them prepare for a better transition to their new home, and bring you peace of mind that they are getting the support they need.
Within senior living there are different levels of care that offer varying degrees of assistance and medical oversight – from assistance with activities of daily living to 24-hour care. By knowing the basic differences in the levels of care, you can help determine what your love one needs from senior living.
What are the Different Levels of Care for Seniors?
Levels of care that can be found in senior living include: Assisted Living, Memory Care Assisted Living, and Long Term Care. Each level offers specific services to meet the needs of older adults. Within each level of care residents find the support, assistance, and medical oversight they need.
These levels of care may be community that offers just one level – such as Assisted Living – or they may be part of a Life Plan Community, which offers all levels of living – Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care Assisted Living, and Long Term Care – on one campus.
Assisted Living is just like the name sounds – extra assistance balanced with independence. Assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and toileting, is available to residents who live in Assisted Living. In Assisted Living, staff is available 24 hours a day to help with these activities.
In addition to personal care assistance and medication administration, communities should provide opportunities in Assisted Living – and other levels of living as well – for residents to be active and continue to be engaged, contributing members of the community. This includes wellness programming such as exercise classes, volunteering, and social events.
Memory Care Assisted Living is a controlled-access, purposeful environment created with the special needs of the residents in mind. Staff cater to those needs, with a focus on the residents’ holistic well-being. Older adults living with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments can benefit from a living setting that provides the care they need along with programming that engages them.
Staff in Memory Care Assisted Living should be dedicated to this level of care and specially trained to care for residents with dementia. Activities in Memory Care Assisted Living are often created residents and what their likes and dislikes are. There are many creative ways to engage Memory Care Assisted Living residents that community staff can implement to provide meaningful days.
Long Term Care
Long Term Care is where residents receive 24-hour care from nursing staff. In Long Term Care there is also oversight from a medical director. This level of living is sometimes referred to as the Care Center; it is also used to be known as a nursing home. In Long Term Care, care plans should be customized to each Care Center resident’s needs and preferences.
Communities should continue to provide residents in Long Term Care opportunities to participate in activities and to be a part of the larger community. This may include wellness activities and social events.
Which Level of Care is Right for Your Loved One?
To determine what level of care is best for a loved one, family members should discuss the needs with the older adult, consult with the older adult’s doctor, other family members, and senior living community staff. Knowing if your loved one needs some assistance, Memory Care, or 24-hour care will help guide your search for senior living and ultimately make the transition a smoother one for your loved one.
Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) has nine Life Plan Communities and one Assisted Living Community. LSS communities are known for excellent care and a solid reputation built on more than 160 years. To find an LSS community near you, visit our community page.