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What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Retirement Communities?

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Retirement Communities?

Despite what many assume, assisted living, retirement communities, and nursing homes are not the same thing. If you’re new to senior living, you may not realize the distinction between the different kinds of housing communities.

As you prepare to plan for your post-retirement future, read below to find out the differences between assisted living and retirement communities in Peoria, AZ.

Assisted Living Community Level of Care

In general, assisted living communities provide a higher level of care when compared to retirement communities. Usually, seniors enter assisted living when they could use help with performing everyday tasks, including bathing, dressing, or medication management. 

In addition to assistance with these tasks, assisted living communities also provide helpful services to ease stress. For instance, there will be a food hall that prepares three full meals for residents every day. These meals are designed to be as nutritious and delicious as possible.

Assisted living services and amenities also include housekeeping and maintenance. Keeping the apartments clean and taking care of laundry can help ease residents’ stress and keep them from overexerting themselves.

Retirement Community Level of Care

Sometimes, retirement communities are referred to as “independent senior living,”  illustrated by the more passive level of care. In assisted living communities, independence is still an important core value, but the extra day-to-day assistance helps the seniors who need that level of care achieve continued independence.

Residents of a retirement community can typically take care of themselves, from daily tasks and beyond. A retirement community may have certain services available on campus for those who need them. Some of these communities are known as Continued Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs.

Reasons for Entering Assisted Living or Retirement Communities

Seniors enter assisted living when they are no longer able to live on their own or care for themselves completely, but they still want to live a full life with independence.

By contrast, seniors enter retirement communities when they want a more low-key lifestyle, surrounded by others their own age. Once your kids are out of the house, it can be too much of a hassle to keep up a space much larger than you may need. Housing in retirement communities can be condos or apartments, where the smaller, more manageable properties are a perfect size for retirement age.

Seniors also tend to consider moving into retirement communities based on location. Some stay in their hometown, but others may find that the area they lived and worked in no longer serves them post-retirement. Some reasons people move include wanting to be closer to other family members, especially kids and grandkids. Others may choose to move to a sunnier, warmer climate.

Differences in Security & Medical Staff

Assisted living communities will have medical staff on-site and available 24/7. For specialists not on site, assisted living will provide transportation to those appointments as needed. A big part of entering assisted living is setting up on-site healthcare. As the care plan continues, residents will be involved and aware of important updates or potential changes.

Loved ones of assisted living residents will rest assured knowing that they are given emergency call systems and that these communities keep residents safe with 24/7 security.

Most retirement communities cannot always guarantee a professional medical care staff on site. After all, residents of these communities usually do not require daily health monitoring. In assisted living, medical care is set up with the community itself and included as part of the experience. With independent living, whatever medical care an individual needs is set up by the resident on their own.

Residents in a retirement community will still be able to feel safe thanks to security. Some communities have a gate, while others may have that and surveillance.

Differences in Cost

In assisted living, the extra care and amenities provided factor into the cost, including healthcare and amenities, like three meals a day. While some can pay entirely out of pocket, financial assistance options are available, like veterans’ loans. Assisted living community costs may also be partially covered by Long Term Care insurance.

The cost of living in retirement communities may include a fee to enter or join said community. After that, there are different fees and expenses paid monthly. Because residents handle their own meals and medical services, the cost of those would not be included, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the total cost would be much different than that of assisted living. 

In both cases, the exact costs can vary depending on location.

Differences in Activities & Programming

Because retirement communities are a community, there will be events, activities, and programs throughout the year for residents to enjoy. These will span a range of interests from art to sports and are great ways for newcomers to make new friends.

Assisted living also has regular scheduled activities. In that case, many of the activities are specially designed to help with cognitive health and mobility, but they are tons of fun as well and the perfect opportunities for residents to forge friendships! Off-campus activities and day trips may also be included. Transportation will be provided for those.

In both types of communities, these events, programs, and activities give residents a full, active lifestyle and something to look forward to. Residents can pursue new hobbies and interests and gain new skills through these activities. Exercise and wellness classes will be involved in both types of communities, keeping residents healthy and physically fit. All the programs offered in the communities are great for the seniors’ mental health, happiness, and overall state of mind.You can find more information on assisted living and retirement communities in Peoria, AZ, by visiting Mission at Agua Fria. If assisted living is the best option for you, come by and tour our Peoria community. You can also reach out to us with any additional questions at any time.