Senior Living 101

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By: Candy Cohn, Owner of Oasis Senior Advisors South Florida Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Navigating the waters of senior living can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Since there are a wide variety of senior housing options available, it’s helpful to learn about the differences before you start looking. Here’s a primer to get you started.

Independent Living (IL) – A multi-unit apartment usually available as a rental. Most IL offer social and recreational opportunities, including two meals a day. Some offer services such as housekeeping and home health care services.

Assisted Living (AL) – They provide a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care to meet the needs of those who don’t require full time skilled nursing care but might need help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Like IL, they offer social and recreational opportunities, including three meals a day, housekeeping, laundry and transportation.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) – State licensed facility that provides 24-hour skilled patient care due to hospitalization, complex physical or complex cognitive conditions and assistance with multiple ADLs. Patient must be admitted and followed by a physician. Maximum length of stay is 100 days – first 20 days are paid for by Medicare; days 21-100 require a co-payment.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) – A community that offers several levels of assistance, including IL, AL, and SNF home care so residents have the ability to “age in place.” CCRC usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident and the community and requires a large buy-in fee.

Personal Care Home (PCH) – A residence providing a watchful environment and personal services to adults who require varying degrees of supervision and protective care. The homes are smaller with 2-8 residents, may offer a private bedroom but shared bathrooms, and lower patient to caregiver ratio.

Memory Care (MC) – MC offers specialized programs for residents suffering from memory loss. Programs and activities are planned with dementia care in mind. Overall room sizes are smaller because they don’t spend much time in their individual rooms. For resident’s safety, all MC facilities are secured with fences and alarms.

Certain criteria should be considered when comparing the services and amenities at each community – the comfort and safety of your loved one; fall prevention; proper nutrition; adequate hydration; medication management and socialization.

Remember, no family has to go through a senior living transition alone. Senior industry experts can help answer your questions. Many services offer a free consultation, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

About Candy Cohn

Originally from Philadelphia, Candy Cohn, Owner of Oasis Senior Advisors South Florida, has lived in Florida since 1985. After living in Martin County for 22 years, she moved to Delray Beach in 2007. Her background in healthcare marketing includes community relations at Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart, FL; writing for “Psychotherapy Finances;” Marketing Director for Flexsite Diagnostics; and community relations at the Visiting Nurse Association of Florida. After helping her own parents move to a senior living community, Candy realized the complexity and emotional challenges involved in this transition and has since dedicated herself to serving others who needed to make these life changes. Besides serving as President of Elder Services Resource Network (ESRN), she is also active in the Partnership for Aging, Alzheimer’s Association, Arthritis Foundation, the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce Health Council and the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce Health Council.