By Janet Lorenzon, NHA, Executive Director of Artman
If you thinking of looking into options for retirement it is helpful to know some terminology and where to look for information.
A “retirement community” can offer a variety of levels of care so as needs change, either on a temporary or permanent basis, often all your needs can be met right there.
Independent living (IL) may be an apartment or house. Often the only visible difference between the retirement community and your current home may be nurse call lights to be used in an emergency. Available services will vary from place to place. Often one meal a day is included in your monthly rate. Other services can be provided on a fee for service basis.
In the past, the terms Personal Care (PC) and Assisted Living (AL) were used interchangeably. Now there are a different set of regulations for each. Both services are for an individual requiring some assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). They both provide some services on a daily basis. This assistance can be nursing, housekeeping, dining, activities and some maintenance. The philosophy for AL is “Aging in Place” meaning that as needs change, services can be changed also while staying in the same place. When shopping around, whether for PC or AL ask specifically about current practices. Many PC communities offer Assisted Living services while continuing to use the term Personal Care.
Some Personal Care and Assisted Living communities also offer skilled nursing or it may be a stand-alone facility. Skilled nursing units also can offer a variety of services. These services will be provided by a licensed nurse, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), housekeeping, laundry, maintenance and activities department and will include 3 meals plus snacks on a daily basis. One level of care would be for the long-term resident. The resident living there will receive all services on a daily basis. The resident may have physical problems or cognitive difficulties (or both), Most skilled nursing communities also offer hospice for their residents. A totally different level of care within the skilled nursing department is short term rehabilitation. Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies will be provided, as well as services that must be provided by a licensed nurse. These skilled nursing facilities have received Medicare certification. This means insurance – Medicare or a Managed Care may pay for room and board, therapy, medications, and treatments. Specialized staff, such as wound-certified nurses are often available. Be sure to inquire about what insurances are accepted, this will vary from facility to facility.
The internet is a wonderful place to get information. Specific sites, such as http://www.nursinghomecompare.com can offer information about specific skilled nursing facilities.
These websites can also offer suggestions on what to look for and what questions to ask when visiting any of the retirement options. Remember, nothing can compare to an actual visit.