Caring for an aging loved one can be an incredibly demanding task, particularly if you work full-time, are raising children, or manage your own health concerns. These circumstances are more common than you might think—more than eight million Americans are raising minor children while also providing unpaid care and financial support for their aging parents.

Experts estimate that 70% of adults aged 65 years or older will require long-term care services at some point, and 20% will need five or more years of care. Of course, no one wants to view their loved one as a burden, but caring for an aging adult can significantly impact your financial stability and emotional well-being. Many caregivers are forced to work fewer hours, transfer to a lower-paying job, or even leave the workforce entirely.

Options for Elder Adults

If you find yourself in this difficult position, you have options for relieving this stress and giving your loved one the supportive environment they need to thrive. Retirement communities and assisted living facilities offer seniors independence and socialization, ensure they receive the appropriate quality of care and improve their overall quality of life. Getting your loved one the help they truly need keeps them safe and healthy. What’s more, it prevents you from experiencing caregiver burnout that can cause undue anxiety and damage your relationship with your loved one.

To secure quality care, you must accept your limitations and foster a respectful, productive discussion with your senior to determine the best plan. Often, that plan will involve either a retirement community or assisted living.

What Is the Difference Between a Retirement Community and Assisted Living?

The three primary differences between a retirement community and an assisted living facility are the level of care they provide, the amenities and services they offer, and the price you pay for this care.

  • Level of CareAssisted living facilities provide a higher level of care than retirement communities. They often employ registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and other medical professionals who can give your senior the care they need to promote their health and well-being. Staff members carefully monitor residents and regularly check in on them to ensure they are receiving the appropriate support, eating nutritious meals, and taking their medications.Residents may suffer from debilitating or degenerative health conditions, be unable to function on their own, or require 24/7 access to medical care that must adapt over time to continue meeting their changing needs. Some assisted living facilities also provide memory care with specialized therapies aimed at sustaining mental flexibility and helping them cope with the challenges of memory conditions. Retirement communities do not provide this level of medical or nursing support but focus more on helping seniors live active, independent lives with little staff involvement.
  • Amenities and ServicesAssisted living facilities are designed to give seniors the support they need with a variety of amenities and services. Staff members are on-call and usually available 24/7 to help with daily tasks, such as shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, bathing, and grooming. These facilities provide three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry services, along with transportation, scheduled outings, and activities to help residents build connections with peers and encourage their hobbies.Retirement communities are ideal for healthy seniors or those with minimal health concerns. Residents can take care of themselves but desire low-maintenance housing, the convenience of on-site dining and entertainment, or simply want the sense of belonging to a community of other people with similar interests. They do not offer the amenities and services needed by aging residents with serious health concerns and those who have difficulty managing activities of daily life.
  • PriceCost correlates with the level of care provided, so assisted living facilities almost always charge more than retirement communities. This cost varies based on location, the specific facility, and the services they offer. The average cost for an assisted living facility amounts to approximately $4,300 monthly or $51,600 annually. However, assisted living may be covered by long-term care insurance, employee benefits programs, or government assistance sources like Medicaid. Conversely, many retirement community residents pay for room and board out of pocket.

What Is the Right Option for My Aging Parent?

Healthy seniors who are confident in their ability to care for themselves but feel lonely or bored can benefit from living in a retirement community. However, aging adults who need help with daily tasks like housekeeping or medication management, suffer from degenerative health conditions, or have recently experienced a serious illness or injury may require a higher level of care.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, assisted living may be the right option for your loved one:

  • Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable leaving your loved one home alone?
  • Do they have a serious medical condition that is likely to worsen, such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, or terminal cancer?
  • Do they remember to eat, groom themselves, and take medications?
  • Do they need assistance with daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and bathing?
  • Are you worried that their health or safety may be at risk if they attempt to perform these tasks on their own?
  • Does your loved one consistently rely on you to meet their basic needs or run errands for them?
  • Do they have difficulty communicating what they need?
  • Have you noticed their physical health deteriorating, such as noticeable weight loss, becoming incontinent, or falling?
  • Have you witnessed any drastic changes in behavior?
  • Has the increased demand on your time and resources become overwhelming, caused conflict in your family, or made it difficult for you to manage your own obligations?

Help Your Loved One Transition to Assisted Living with Confidence and Peace of Mind

It is vital that you reframe your thoughts away from “putting” them in a home and toward determining the right solution for everyone in your family. This means clearly communicating your concerns with your loved one, treating them with dignity and respect, and working together to select a high-quality facility that can meet their needs.

To learn more about assisted living and find out if this is the best plan for your loved one, contact Rocky Mountain Assisted Living today to speak with our team. We can help you find the information you need to select the right path for their well-being and make this transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for your family.