Retirement Assisted Living – independence with a little help

Retirement assisted living as it exists today started in the 1990's as another care option for seniors. Those for whom independent living was no longer appropriate but who did not need full time medical care provided by a nursing home.

As the name implies retirement assisted living is for retirees who need some degree of assistance with everyday tasks. This can vary considerably depending on the health and mobility of the person.

Residents ​are offered varying degrees of personal support services such as;

  • meals,
  • housekeeping,
  • laundry,
  • shopping.

This may progress to more personal care services such as;

  • help with dressing,
  • bathing,
  • eating,
  • using the bathroom.

These facilities require the coordination of services by outside health care providers. The residents are monitored to ensure their health, safety and well-being. Assistance may include the administration or supervision of medication.

As retirement assisted living covers so many different forms there is no recognized definition. However many countries and states have licensing and regulation requirements but all with their own definition.

Other names for assisted living facilities include "board and care homes", "personal care homes" and "supervised care facilities".

Some assisted living facilities are part of retirement communities. Others are near nursing homes, so a person can easily move if they require additional medical care.

Assisted living is a philosophy of care and services promoting independence and dignity.

Costs of retirement assisted living

Costs of assisted living varies considerably but it is still fairly expensive. However as the support services are shared the costs are also shared. Assisted living costs are much less than nursing home care. In many cases as the resident cannot afford the cost they rely on their families for financial support.

When preparing your retirement plan ensure that you carefully consider the possibility of either you or your spouse needing assisted living … or long term general or specialised nursing care. They can both be very expensive.

Health and long-term care insurance policies may cover some of the costs. Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living.

Types of retire​​​​ment assisted living

Senior assisted housing combines lodging and various personal support services.

The communities can range from a single residence with as few as 3 residents to complete villages with hundreds, or even thousands, of residents.

These villages may offer a full range of accommodation ranging from;

  • independent homes or apartments with their own kitchen and living area,
  • rooms with private or shared bathrooms,
  • facilities where residents can recover from a short illness that don’t need extensive nursing care
  • full nursing care facilities.
Services provided

Services range from basic services such as meals, housekeeping, laundry, and shopping to being virtually independent communities.

In some facilities there may be a requirement for even the residents living in independent homes or apartments to have a minimum number of meals every month. This is done to ensure that they maintain contact with other people and get regular nutrition.

Often supported by community volunteers residents are able to take part in a wide range of activities.

  • Socialising areas are available for games and hobbies and to watch television.
  • Many communities have full activities and regular organised entertainment programs.
  • For the more mobile there are gyms, gardens and supervised walks.
  • There may also be organised visits to interesting places and attractions.
  • Transport to shops or the cinema will be provided
  • regular shopping service for items like groceries and medicines.

Retirement assisted living offers a reasonably cost effective transition from independent living to full nursing care.

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