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Complete Guide to Senior Living Options: Choosing the Right Fit

Complete Guide to Senior Living Options: Choosing the Right Fit

People in the United States are living longer, healthier lives thanks to continuing advancements in medicine, healthcare, and science and technology. The senior living industry has seen an increase in high-quality, affordable, long-term senior care options that provide different levels of care, services, and amenities. Senior living in Arizona and other popular retirement destinations provides a wealth of choices for families.

With so many options, how do you choose the right senior living option for you and your family? The following guide discusses the different senior living options, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care, and what each offers. In some cases, like in many Solterra Senior Living communities, residents have access to several different options, all within the same community, which is ideal if your healthcare needs change. In addition to information about common senior living options, we will also provide tips on factors to consider that will help you decide. 

Long-Term Senior Care Options

What do we mean when we talk about senior living options? Here are the most common senior care options and the types of seniors who will benefit from them the most. 

Independent Living

As the name suggests, independent living communities are tailored to meet the needs of very active seniors who can live independently but are looking for a more leisurely, maintenance-free lifestyle in a community of people in the same life stage. 

There is a wide range of independent living communities, including apartments, condos, townhomes, and small homes to rent or buy. Generally speaking, the smaller living spaces are much easier to maintain, which can be very appealing. In addition, these communities often offer shared, resort-like amenities like exercise centers, swimming pools, scheduled activities, and some housekeeping, dining, and landscaping services. 

Independent living is an excellent choice for seniors who do not require assistance with activities of daily living or significant medical attention and who are interested in joining a tight-knit community with ample opportunities for socializing.

Assisted Living

What sets assisted living apart from independent living is the access to assistance with activities of daily living like bathing, grooming, transportation, medication management, and dressing, among other things. Residents in assisted living can also choose many services and amenities that enhance their lifestyle, reduce stress, and encourage them to maintain independence by focusing on health and wellness. For instance, at Solterra Senior Living in Arizona, residents have easy access to everything they need to live well, including:

  • Pet-friendly apartments
  • Chauffeured transportation to dining and recreational outings
  • Chef-crafted meals
  • Exercise classes
  • Wellness center with access to physical therapy
  • Scheduled classes and activities
  • 24-hour access to assistance with activities of daily living

Assisted living is a good option for seniors who need assistance with certain daily activities and are interested in maintaining an active social life.

Memory Care

Although memory care comes in different forms (e.g., drop-in daycare, in-home care, residential memory care communities), the goal is the same: to provide specialized care in a secure environment for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or who are living with memory loss. Professional caregivers receive additional training specific to dementia care, including learning about the progression of dementia and different communication techniques. Cognitive therapy is integral to memory care and can include art and music therapy, cognitive games, color therapy, and more.

Respite Care

Many families don’t realize that respite care is an option. Respite care is short-term, temporary care that allows caregivers to take time away for rest or other obligations while knowing that their loved ones are receiving a high level of care from trained professionals. 

For instance, say you are a full-time caregiver for a senior loved one but must travel to a wedding or take time off to have surgery. Finding a respite care community could be the perfect choice for you and your family. Or, say you are considering a move to assisted living but don’t feel quite ready. During a respite care stay, seniors enjoy all the same amenities, services, and social activities as the other residents, allowing them to try it out before committing full-time. 

Important Factors to Consider

So, what should you think about when deciding which senior living option is right for you or your loved one? 

  • Personal care and healthcare needs – would assistance with activities of daily living be helpful? Has your loved one been diagnosed with dementia? What level of care do you want and need? 
  • Future needs – choosing a community with independent living, assisted living, and memory care options all within the same location can be an excellent choice since you or your loved one will never have to worry about moving and finding a new home if their health needs change.
  • Lifestyle preferences – are you looking for an active social life? Do you want to stay in close physical proximity to family? What types of services and amenities are you looking for? Do you need a pet-friendly community? Are you interested in a warm climate or prefer all four seasons?
  • Budget – set a reasonable budget and look for communities that fit within it. The American Health Care Association’s National Center for Assisted Living has a consumer guide with a cost calculator you might find helpful, even if you’re looking into independent living or memory care. The costs of senior living will vary by location, size of the community, services and amenities offered, and level of care required.  

Schedule an In-Person Visit

Once you have determined what type of senior living option is most appropriate for you and your family, schedule a tour to see it in person. AARP put together a checklist of several important questions you can ask to help assess whether the community in question is a good fit for your needs, preferences, and budget. 

Whether you are looking for independent living, assisted living, memory care, or respite care, Solterra Senior Living in Arizona has many outstanding locations to serve your family. Contact one of our communities today to schedule a tour and see what we’re all about!