Senior Living: Understanding the difference


ALSO KNOWN as retirement communities, independent senior living communities are designed for seniors 55 and older. They commonly offer apartment-style accommodations; however, some also offer cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Residents are seniors who do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing but may benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities.

Many retirement communities offer dining services, basic housekeeping, laundry services, transportation to appointments and errands, social programs, and access to exercise equipment. Some also offer emergency alert systems, live-in managers, and amenities like pools, spas, clubhouses, and on-site beauty and barber salons. These properties do not provide health care or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as medication, bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, and more. Residents are permitted to use their choice of home healthcare services to meet additional needs. Typical forms of payment include private pay.


Assisted living is often viewed as the best of both worlds. Residents have as much independence as they want with the knowledge that personal care and support services are available if they need them. Assisted-living communities are designed and staffed to provide residents with assistance with basic ADLs, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and more. This gives the senior and family members peace of mind. Some states also allow assisted living to offer medication assistance and/or reminders.

Assisted-living communities differ from nursing homes in that they don’t offer complex medical services. However, residents may enlist the services of third-party providers for such needs.

These communities may be set up as apartment-style living offering studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom floorplans with kitchenettes. They are designed with enrichment centers for activities, social areas for entertainment, libraries, private dining room, and an array of other amenities. Some communities have LOC (Level of Care) in addition to the cost of the accommodation. Typical forms of payment include private pay, Long Term Care policy, VA Aid and Attendance, and Medicaid Diversion/Medicaid Waiver. Varies by community.

This column is sponsored by Our Family Connections, LLC.


BIO: Jennifer Brown of Our Family Connections, LLC, offering senior living solutions, has enjoyed 18 fulfilling years of assisting seniors and their families in various healthcare fields. Recognizing the need for a more personal approach when families begin to seek senior care and living options, Jennifer decided to start Our Family Connections. As a Lakelander with a lovely, large family — eight children, five grandchildren, and one more on the way — Jennifer has personal, local knowledge of family needs for seniors and their care. When not assisting her clients, Jennifer and her husband Scott enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. For more information, visit or call (863) 999-3559.

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