Find The Right Place for You

There is a broad array of housing options available to today’s seniors. The terminology for the different types of senior living can vary, and can often be confusing. The main difference is in the amount of care provided for activities of daily living and for medical care. When researching a senior housing option, make sure it covers your required level of care and that you understand exactly what is offered and the costs involved. 

Senior Apartments

This option offers independent market rate in an apartment complex with the security and conveniences of community living. It is a good choice for older adults who are looking for ways to enjoy the company of friends in a setting that supports independence and where they are able to "age in place."

Continuing-Care Retirement Communities

Also known as CCRCs, these communities provide a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living and nursing care in one location. A CCRC is appealing because it offers a full range of housing, residential services and health care options as your health care needs change over time.

While the cost of living in a CCRC is often higher than other types of senior living, residents have a lifelong assurance of knowing that increased assistance and health care services are available in one location. This allows seniors to stay in the same location as their housing needs change over time. It also can mean spouses can still be very close to one another even if one requires a higher level of care. CCRCs provide a wide range of services and amenities to residents. Some CCRCs are rental communities, while others require both an entrance fee and a monthly fee.

Independent Living

These are retirement communities that usually offer meals, housekeeping, maintenance, laundry facilities, local transportation and planned programs and events. Some communities may even offer amenities such as swimming pool/spas, exercise facilities, lounges, reading rooms and computer labs. Health care is generally not provided, but many communities allow a home health aide or nurse to come into an apartment to assist with medicines and personal care. 

You may want to consider independent living if:

  • You'd like a place that does not require a lot of maintenance and upkeep.
  • You like the idea of socializing with peers and having activity options nearby.
  • You see needing only minor assistance with activities of daily living.


Memory Care

Either a stand-alone community or part of an assisted living community, these communities are generally intentional in their design. There may be, for example, enhanced lighting, color coding, visual cues, memory boxes, easy to navigate walking paths and secure indoor and outdoor spaces. A daily calendar of events provides opportunities for engagement in programs that provide exercise, socialization and entertainment. Care staff is also available around-the-clock to meet the supportive health care needs of the residents.

Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Long-term care, also commonly referred to as a nursing home, is the senior housing option that offers the most medical care. Long-term care communities have medical directors, social workers, rehabilitation professionals as well as nurses on staff that provide around-the-clock skilled medical care. Some long-term care facilities also have units designed for seniors with specific illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease and/or other dementia-related conditions.

A nursing home is normally the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. While they do provide assistance in activities of daily living, they differ from other senior housing in that they also provide a higher level of medical care. Skilled nursing care and medical professionals such as physical and occupational therapists are also available for rehabilitation as needed.

A nursing home may be a good choice if:

  • You need a higher level of care temporarily after a hospitalization, but it's anticipated you will be able to return to home or another type of senior living community after a period of time.
  • You require a short-term stay for rehabilitation services after hospitalization for medical procedures. Physical therapy and occupation therapy are provided on site as well as additional services to help provide support for recovery and rehabilitation.
  • Both your medical and personal care needs have become too great to handle at home or in another senior living community. This may be due to a recent hospitalization or a chronic illness which has gradually been worsening.

Learn More

For more information about the different options for senior living, contact a Brookdale National Senior Living Advisor at the number listed above.