The six levels of care in assisted living include affordable housing, independent living, assisted living, short-term care, memory care and skilled nursing. Learning about the services provided with each level of care can help you choose the best option to meet the needs of yourself or a loved one.

Short-Term Care, Affordable Housing and Independent Living

Short-term care is ideal for seniors who need a place to recover after surgery or during an illness. It also provides respite for family caregivers and allows seniors to see what a facility has to offer before committing to a permanent stay. Depending on the facility, seniors may be able to stay for a day, a week or longer. Some facilities have minimum stay lengths while others are more flexible.

Affordable housing is a budget-friendly option for seniors who can live independently without extra assistance. It typically includes housekeeping, transportation, daily check-ins and planned activities, but does not include medical services or personal care. Independent living is a step above affordable housing. It’s suitable for those who are able to live independently but may provide some personal assistance if needed. It includes the same amenities as affordable housing, plus more extensive home maintenance and access to emergency medical care.

Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care

Assisted living includes 24-hour supervision, meals, transportation and social activities. Typically, assisted living provides all services in a central building, giving residents easy access to everything they need in one place. Residents also receive personal care and help with their daily activities of living, such as medication reminders, grooming, bathing and getting dressed. Skilled nursing is for seniors who temporarily need medical care while recovering from illness, injury or surgery. Care is provided by medical professionals such as licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Services include medication administration, monitoring of vital signs, catheter care and IV therapy. Skilled nursing differs from nursing homes in that the latter is a more permanent placement for long-term care.

Memory care is suited for seniors who need specialized treatment due to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It’s often provided in secure units within nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It includes most of the same services and amenities as regular assisted living plus more stringent security, a higher level of supervision and therapeutic programming designed for people with cognitive impairment. Staff is specially trained to understand the unique needs of people with Alzheimer’s and provide compassionate care in a safe and comforting environment.