Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or Independent Living?

How to Compare Senior Living Options

elder care options

The first step to finding the best senior housing for your loved one is to understand what type of care facility is the best fit. There are six main types of residential elder care options:

Independent living facilities are ofen the best senior housing options 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 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.

Memory care communities are facilities designed specifically for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or serious cognitive impairments. Also known as dementia care, memory care communities are often housed in one part of an existing assisted living community or skilled nursing facility. These communities are best for those with severe dementia or cognitive impairment who are no longer able to live independently.

Board and care facilities, also known as care homes, 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 residential care facilities that 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 facility using the chart below. Some amenities and services may vary from state to state.


  Independent Living CCRCs Assisted Living Board & Care Skilled Nursing
Types of care:
Daily personal care  
Medication management    
  varies varies varies varies
Therapy (Physical, occupational, etc.)     varies
Skilled nursing care      
Hospice care       varies varies
Amenities:
Social activities  
Housekeeping
Meals
Transportation    
Forms of payment:
Annual cost: $12,000 - $42,000 $6,000 - $48,000
(not including move-in fee)
$28,800 - $66,000 $14,400 - $36,000 $86,000 - $90,000
Private pay
Medicaid     limited  
Medicare         limited
Supplemental Security Income        
Veterans aid    
Long-term care insurance   varies




21 days ago, said...

My brother had brain surgery, due to Cancer. He is paralyzed on the left side and has cognitive issues. He has to have more Chemo and we don't have young family members, who could care for him in their homes. At present, not sure what his outcome will be. But, I doubt if he can live alone. At present, he is a resident at Willow Park. The family doesn't like it.


4 months ago, said...

I looking for a Skilled Nursing Facility for my father who is 78 and has Alzheimer's, near Montrose, that will take MediCal.


5 months ago, said...

I am deaf and 57 years old. I am SSI and SSDI. I am independent. I found Newsome Homes and need voucher.


5 months ago, said...

My grandmother is currently living by herself. She was told that she needs to move to independent living now while she is still mobile. She was told that if she falls she will no longer be eligible for independent living and will only be eligible for a higher level of care or Medicare facility. We are hoping to gather information to make an informed decision.


7 months ago, said...

notify me via Caring.com


8 months ago, said...

Looking for information for senior citizen living near Grosse Pointe, MI. They are currently independent, in their mid eighties, and semi-active. Would like to have progressive care as they age in the same facility. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


over 1 year ago, said...

Hi, I have made clear of my understanding and of my sobriety. I am in memory pain as well as in pain again. They have talked my leg off. Thanks, Galicia


over 1 year ago, said...

I need help for my mom long term placement she has 3rd stage alzimer she tells people we have kiddnaped her and we drag her around the yard I really need help please help me find long term place ment


over 1 year ago, said...

This is simply super


over 1 year ago, said...

I can handle my own affairs, but my ex-husband wants to control my medical care if I need it or not to the point of threatening to baker act as he has done in the past or if he cannot control my money, stoops to put in in jail so he has free reign on my monthly disability pay dhek I's been happening more than my sons and daughters knowl


over 1 year 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.


over 1 year ago, said...

Thats helpful


almost 2 years 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.


about 2 years 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.


about 2 years ago, said...

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


over 2 years 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


over 2 years ago, said...

tryna find a place for me with a little assistance


about 3 years ago, said...

Do not understand the fee schedule


about 3 years 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 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.


over 3 years 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


over 3 years ago, said...

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


over 3 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.


over 3 years ago, said...

no comment /just started looking


over 3 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


over 3 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??


over 3 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


over 3 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!