Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or Independent Living?

How to Compare Senior Living Options
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The first step to finding the perfect living situation for your loved one is to decide what type of residential care facility is the best fit. There are five main types:

Independent living facilities are best for active adults who want built-in community without giving up their privacy. Most feature studio or multi-bedroom apartments with kitchens so residents can stay independent as long as possible.

Continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, are best for those seeking a continuum of care from independent living to skilled nursing, all in one location. CCRCs generally have studio or multi-bedroom apartments for their most independent residents and private or shared rooms for residents who need more care.

Assisted living facilities are best for those who need some care and supervision but who don't need skilled nursing care. Most assisted living residents live in private or semi-private rooms within a complex.

Board and care facilities are best for those who can't live independently due to physical or mental disabilities but who don't require fulltime skilled nursing care. They feature private or semi-private rooms in a complex (often a large home) that usually provides communal dining.

Skilled nursing facilities, also called nursing homes, are best for those with illnesses or mental conditions requiring fulltime monitoring and medical care. Most skilled nursing residents live in semi-private rooms, and meals are generally provided.

RELATED: Find Assisted Living Near You

Want more information? Compare amenities, services, and payment information for each type of residential care using the chart below. Some amenities and services may vary from state to state.


  Independent Living CCRCs Assisted Living Board and Care Skilled Nursing
Types of care:          
Daily personal care   x x x x
Medication monitoring     x x x
Memory and Alzheimer's care   some facilities some facilities some facilities some facilities
Physical, occupational, and other therapies   x   through outside agencies x
Skilled nursing care   x     x
Hospice care       some facilities some facilities
           
Amenities:          
Social activities x x x   x
Housekeeping x x x x x
Meals x x x x x
Transportation to appointments and outings x x x    
           
Yearly cost (varies widely): $12,000 - $42,000 $20,000 - $400,000 move-in fee, plus $6,000 - $48,000 annually $28,800 - $66,000 $14,400 - $36,000 $86,000 - $90,000
           
Forms of payment accepted:          
Private pay x x x x x
Medicaid     for expenses other than room and board   x
Medicare         for a limited time
Supplemental Security Income     x    
Veterans assistance x   x   x
Long-term care insurance x   x some facilities x
6 days ago, said...

hello my mom needs 24hr care.She dont eat well at time .She needs friends,love and some people to talk to. my mom don't receive medicaid she have medicare.i have a hard time of getting her n a place. my mom can walk with a walker she go dialysis she have diabetes and high blood pressure.She receive VA benefit off my dad that was a veteran.So please help me fine and put my mom in a place. hello my mom needs 24hr care.She dont eat well at time .She needs friends,love and some people to talk to. my mom don't receive medicaid she have medicare.i have a hard time of getting her n a place. my mom can walk with a walker she go dialysis she have diabetes and high blood pressure.She receive VA benefit off my dad that was a veteran.So please help me fine and put my mom in a place. Hide

8 days ago, said...

Thats helpful Thats helpful Hide

4 months ago, said...

My Aunt needs help with her medicine ,and dose't eat good. She needs friends she loves to talk. She very demanding to. She weak a little. She still drives a car. My Aunt needs help with her medicine ,and dose't eat good. She needs friends she loves to talk. She very demanding to. She weak a little. She still drives a car. Hide

6 months ago, said...

Hello, Thank you for reaching out to Caring.com for information about available providers. If you are looking for low-income housing, you may want to contact your local Area Agency on the Aging: https://www.caring.com/local/area-agency-on-aging. Hello, Thank you for reaching out to Caring.com for information about available providers. If you are looking for low-income housing, you may want to contact your local Area Agency on the Aging: https://www.caring.com/local/area-agency-on-aging. Hide

6 months ago, said...

I am looking for an Independent Living Community in Springfield, MA that accepts Section 8. Please advise. Thank you. I am looking for an Independent Living Community in Springfield, MA that accepts Section 8. Please advise. Thank you. Hide

11 months ago, said...

Hello Everyone, Thanks for sharing about your experience. As mentioned in prior comments, our family advisors can help answer your questions and explain different options for you and your husband: (800) 325-8591. This free service is available seven days a week at no charge. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Hello Everyone,
 Thanks for sharing about your experience. As mentioned in prior comments, our family advisors can help answer your questions and explain different options for you and your husband: (800) 325-8591. This free service is available seven days a week at no charge. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Hide

11 months ago, said...

tryna find a place for me with a little assistance tryna find a place for me with a little assistance Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

Do not understand the fee schedule Do not understand the fee schedule Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

A few important things to add:
 
 1. Cost Vary Widely By State. An nursing home in NY can be 2X as expensive as a nursing home in Alabama. 
 
 2. Traditional Channels Are Not Often Available For Payment - Many people think insurance and Medicare pay for these services. They don't. Families need to be financially creative. Can a family member help care for a loved one? Can you hire a part-time nurse to visit the home?
 
 3. Talk To A Geriatrician - These are... Show more A few important things to add:
 
 1. Cost Vary Widely By State. An nursing home in NY can be 2X as expensive as a nursing home in Alabama. 
 
 2. Traditional Channels Are Not Often Available For Payment - Many people think insurance and Medicare pay for these services. They don't. Families need to be financially creative. Can a family member help care for a loved one? Can you hire a part-time nurse to visit the home?
 
 3. Talk To A Geriatrician - These are doctors that focus on helping the elderly and their families. They can help navigate many of the challenges the elderly face. Social workers are also helpful. Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

Are there any assisted living for physically younger adult. It's hard to find any assisting living places with a younger population of people who need just that little extra help. If you have found any. Please let me know. Thanks Are there any assisted living for physically younger adult. It's hard to find any assisting living places with a younger population of people who need just that little extra help. If you have found any. Please let me know. Thanks Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

iwas trying to ask about the medical power attorney and durable poa and could not find comment box iwas trying to ask about the medical power attorney and durable poa and could not find comment box Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

I am frustrated that living options are not up front on whether they are private pay or will take Medicare/Medicaid and VA Benifits. I am frustrated that living options are not up front on whether they are private pay or will take Medicare/Medicaid and VA Benifits. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

no comment /just started looking no comment /just started looking Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Hi hurting heart, Thanks for sharing about your experience. As mentioned in my prior comment, our family advisors can help answer your questions and explain different options for you and your husband: (800) 973-1540 This free service is available seven days a week at no charge. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Hi hurting heart, Thanks for sharing about your experience. As mentioned in my prior comment, our family advisors can help answer your questions and explain different options for you and your husband: (800) 973-1540 This free service is available seven days a week at no charge. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Not knowing what I need at this point. Husband cannot drive, prepare food, walks with a walker, needs supervision with medications, but can otherwise care for himself. Dementia, etc. However, I am still ok. We cannot maintain our home like we used to. Don't know what kind of facility to look into. He needs help, but I need to live normally. What to do?? Not knowing what I need at this point. Husband cannot drive, prepare food, walks with a walker, needs supervision with medications, but can otherwise care for himself. Dementia, etc. However, I am still ok. We cannot maintain our home like we used to. Don't know what kind of facility to look into. He needs help, but I need to live normally. What to do?? Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! If you're in need of senior living or have questions about senior living options, please do call our family advisors: (800) 973-1540 This free service is available seven days a week at no charge to seniors and families seeking senior living. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Thanks everyone for your comments! If you're in need of senior living or have questions about senior living options, please do call our family advisors: (800) 973-1540 This free service is available seven days a week at no charge to seniors and families seeking senior living. We can even help schedule tours for some communities. We also offer senior living information in this area of our website: http://www.caring.com/local Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

62 Y.O. Male, independent for now and hate moving! Medically sound, physically broken yet mobile! Friendly yet not a 'social butterfly'! Looking for an independent with the possibility of requiring some assisted living without having to move! 62 Y.O. Male, independent for now and hate moving! Medically sound, physically broken yet mobile! Friendly yet not a 'social butterfly'! Looking for an independent with the possibility of requiring some assisted living without having to move! Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

We are going to sell our house because we cannot keep the yard work up and the painting, etc ,just because we are getting older. I love working in yard but just can't do it without hurting a lot. My husband is still driving but he is getting slower and slower with everything he does and we are just wantingto inquire on prices, etc. We would only need two bedroom , even one would be ok, but do have family and grandchildren, greats that I dearly love to be around. So I you could send me... Show more We are going to sell our house because we cannot keep the yard work up and the painting, etc ,just because we are getting older. I love working in yard but just can't do it without hurting a lot. My husband is still driving but he is getting slower and slower with everything he does and we are just wantingto inquire on prices, etc. We would only need two bedroom , even one would be ok, but do have family and grandchildren, greats that I dearly love to be around. So I you could send me some kind literature, I w ould appreciate it. Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Need areas that accept Medicare only Need areas that accept Medicare only Hide

about 3 years ago, said...

Do widows of WW2 vets qualify for Vet benefits? How do you go about finding this out? Do you need a lawyer to do this? Do widows of WW2 vets qualify for Vet benefits? How do you go about finding this out? Do you need a lawyer to do this? Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

cost and what's involved in each living situation cost and what's involved in each living situation Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

This was helpful. This was helpful. Hide