Navigating the Different Levels of Senior Living and Choosing Which One is Right for You

There are many levels and choices of lifestyles within senior living communities ranging from carefree living to independent living to assisted living. Learning more about each one helps seniors and their families navigate through these new terms and housing options to determine the best fit for each individual as there are many options in the continuum of care.

“The population is also physically aging more slowly, so many older adults will be able to stay more active later in life than past generations,” says A Place for Mom’s data scientist Ben Hanowell. “Across the spectrum of care needs, older adults will have a major impact on housing development over the next two decades. As a society, we need to start paying more attention to their behavior and preferences.”

Active seniors who choose a Carefree Living program are often seeking a maintenance-free lifestyle with social opportunities. Simply removing the stress of landscaping, regular repairs and heavy-duty cleaning can take a huge burden off someone’s life to allow them to spend more time with family and friends.

“I wanted to find a place that would give me the type of freedom where I wouldn’t have to worry about day to day tasks that I had to before. I love the location and the spacious apartment,” said Thirwood Place resident Paul Daunis. Paul and his wife, Pauline, are part of the Carefree Living program. “Every morning, and this is the truth, my wife wakes up and says to me, ‘Another day in paradise’. We do find it extraordinary here.”

Pauline agreed. “One of the big things for me was when we found this place and were so happy with it, I could look at my three sons and say, ‘You don’t have to worry, we’ll be fine.’ It was a very freeing thing for a parent to be able to say that to their children and not have them worry about that, or us,” she said. “They just love the whole idea of us being here -they’re seeing us so happy and our grandchildren have been here and they love it too. They’ll be here tonight for a sleepover at grandma and grandpa’s and will be in the pool tomorrow. It’s very family-friendly here.”

These active seniors gravitate to spacious apartments with full kitchens as they would like to continue cooking and entertaining or tending to small gardens and tinkering around the home with small home improvements. They also enjoy the neighborhood feeling and resort style amenities including swimming pools and greenhouses which are offered by many programs.

“We’re very excited about having a maintenance-free lifestyle,” Paul added. “When we heard about the carefree lifestyle here we really wanted to try it and we had no idea we’d love it as much as we do. It has allowed us to transition – we’re healthy, we’re independent and we really want to never move again. I never have to worry about the dishwasher breaking or any maintenance like that.”

These seniors are sometimes still working, often volunteering and are active socially within their local or regional area. They love having their privacy and independence, but are reassured knowing they are in a safe, secure location with help nearby if needed.

“Even though I’m still active in the community and volunteering, when I’m not doing that I have the pool right down the hall, the fitness center and the café to meet people,” Pauline said. “The apartment itself is all that we need and more. I’ve taken my own videos in the apartment to show family members how beautiful it is and how spacious it is. I love to cook and to have everything I need in that kitchen and operating perfectly for me is fantastic. I was really excited about the washer and dryer being inside the apartment. I wanted a place where I could do my crafts and my sewing and have enough room. All the things I’m used to having I can have right here.”

Older adults who choose to explore Independent Living options are also active in many cases, seek spacious apartments and are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle as well, but they are interested in a few additional offerings. They enjoy having some meals provided, the additional support of regular housekeeping, assistance with transportation, enriching planned activities and safety elements such as a daily safety check, emergency pull cords and 24-hour personnel.

Assisted Living is another residential model offering apartment homes and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) to seniors. Activities of daily living are tasks such as medication management, help with dressing and bathing, or reminders and cueing. Assistance with these activities of daily living is being performed by nurses and certified nurse’s assistants. Residents also enjoy a full meal plan, housekeeping, transportation and activities. Multiple regular safety checks are also made on the residents in Assisted Living.

At Thirwood Place in South Yarmouth, MA, all three lifestyles described are available: Carefree Living, Independent Living and Assisted Living.

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About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.
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