By Jan Rupnick
Senior housing has come a long way over the years. Starting approximately 30 years ago, this industry saw new options develop to meet the demands of a growing senior population. Initially limited in its offerings, there is now a plethora of senior housing options available.

With more and more baby boomers getting ready to retire, the senior housing market is growing with new senior housing developments. Some baby boomers are looking into senior housing options for themselves, while others are looking for communities that can help care for their aging parents. Finding the right option comes down to knowing what's available and understanding the needs of the person who is going to be living in the community. Below are descriptions of the various senior housing options available and the segments of the senior population that they serve.
Independent Senior Housing
For seniors who are tired of maintaining their own home or looking to down-size, independent senior housing is ideal. Those looking to move into an independent senior living community have two choices. One is to purchase a senior condominium and the second is to rent a senior living apartment. Both provide independent, active seniors with the freedom they enjoy, but without all of the burdens of home ownership like mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, or making home repairs. Some independent senior communities have also adapted a lifestyle approach, including such amenities as a salon and spa, golf course, on-site restaurants, on-site shopping, housekeeping and more.

Assisted Living
Assisted living provides a great alternative for seniors who need some additional help with medication, grooming, dressing, eating, etc. Assisted living has two options including; Residential Care Apartment Communities (RCAC), which allows seniors to live in their own apartment, but only offers 28 hours of care, and Community-Based Residential Care Facility or CBRF. This type of community is an ideal living option for seniors who need more assistance that what can be provided by an RCAC, offering care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Assisted living communities tend to offer more of a residential, home-like environment, as well as provide meals, social activities, housekeeping and transportation.
Specialized Care Community
There are some CBRFs that specialize in caring for one kind of illness. One of the most common is an Alzheimer's or memory impairment care community. In specialized assisted living communities, the environment, staff and programming is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of those individuals who are living there. Like a non-specialized assisted living community, a specialized care community also provides 24/7 care, social programming, meals, housekeeping and transportation are generally provided.

Nursing Home
This is probably the most commonly known, but often confused type of senior living option. It's also one of the only options that used to be available to seniors. Nursing homes provide 24-hour skilled nursing services for seniors who need rehabilitation after a surgery, or require care for issues like feeding tubes. The levels of hospitality services in nursing homes vary greatly depending on their targeted clientele.

Whether you're looking to down-size your home or a community to meet the needs of an aging parent, there is a senior living community to meet your needs. Being prepared and understanding the options available will help you to choose what type of senior living community is best for you or your loved one.
Byline: Jan Rupnick is the director of public relations for CRL Senior Living Communities. CRL owns and operates state-of-the-art senior care residences that deliver the highest quality, cutting-edge level of care in specially designed therapeutic environments. The company meets the needs of seniors with independent living, assisted living and Alzheimer's/dementia care communities.


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