What Is Senior Residential Living?

May 24, 2022  |  By Brandon Schleeter  |  Active Senior Living

Finding the right senior living community for yourself or your loved one begins with knowing your options. Fortunately, today’s older adults have a variety of senior living solutions, each type designed to meet different budgets, preferences, and needs. Unlike just a few decades ago, you now have many options available so that you can choose the best for your specific situation. Knowing all of the solutions available to you can help to make your senior living search easier.

One type of senior living that is often overlooked is residential senior living. Sometimes called residential care homes, this option offers support and assistance in an intimate, small, homelike setting. Here’s what you need to know about residential senior living to see if it is an option you should investigate further.

What is residential senior living?

Residential senior living is a term used to describe a private home where older adults live together and receive support around the clock from caregivers. Residential care homes typically serve fewer than 20 seniors, with some homes serving only 3-5 residents.

It’s important to note that residential senior living is typically licensed and regulated by individual state health departments but that each state calls the lifestyle option something different. For example, they are also called personal care homes, board and care homes, and simply, care homes. It’s important that you know what senior residential living is called in your state so that you can appropriately search for that term.

Residential senior living offers residents around-the-clock support from caregivers in a homelike setting. Caregivers are there to provide reminders or hands-on assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and grooming. Caregivers are there in case of an emergency and can call emergency response services if a resident needs it. They are also there to make meals and lead activities for residents. Residents eat meals together and can participate in caregiver-run activities as well. Families can visit regularly.

It’s important to note that residential care homes can offer both private and semiprivate living arrangements. Residents usually have a bedroom to themselves, or they share with another resident. Common spaces in the home, such as the patio, living room, kitchen, and dining room, are shared spaces and welcome to anyone.

Residential care homes are an excellent solution for a senior who needs extra support at home with personal care tasks, is feeling lonely, and prefers a smaller community environment.

What are the differences between residential care homes and assisted living?

While services offered in residential care homes sound similar to assisted living, it is important to note that the two are not the same. The first major difference between the two senior living solutions is the presence of nursing staff. The majority of residential care facilities do not have any type of licensed nurses on staff. In contrast, assisted living communities have licensed nurses on staff who not only can assist with care but who are also there to develop personalized care plans, oversee medication management, and communicate with physicians on behalf of residents. 

The next difference to note between residential care homes and assisted living communities is the size of the resident’s home. While the coziness and small size of a residential care home can seem like a good approach, residents typically only have a bedroom to call their own. In some cases, they share a bedroom, and in most cases, bathrooms are also shared spaces. In contrast, assisted living communities feature apartment home floor plans that include kitchenettes, a private bathroom, a private living room, and bedrooms. Having this personal space allows residents to create a home that reflects their personal style and gives them a quiet place to retreat to or to host family in.

Finally, another difference between assisted living and residential care homes is the amenities and services available for residents. In a residential care home, there are meals and activities throughout the day. However, assisted living communities offer true dining experiences complete with multiple choices and seasonal menus, daily events, programs, excursions, and more amenities. For example, you can find on-site chapels, bistros, courtyards, salons, and even private movie theaters in an assisted living community.

What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Residential care homes offer benefits and drawbacks to residents just like any other senior living option. It is up to the senior adult and their family to determine which solution is best for them now and will be best for them in the future.

Benefits of residential care homes can include the smaller size. A smaller home environment could increase comfort, especially for seniors who are worried about community life on a larger scale. Another benefit can be a family-like feel between residents and caregiving staff who are living daily life side by side. Finally, residential care homes are typically less expensive than skilled nursing alternatives but not always less expensive than assisted living.

Drawbacks to residential care homes could include the fact that there is no nursing presence on-site, there are fewer events and programs than at assisted living communities, and there are fewer amenities and opportunities.

Explore communities near you.

The best way to determine if a senior living community, such as an assisted living community, suits your needs and preferences is to take a tour. During a personalized tour, you can not only see available homes, but you can also interact with the staff, ask questions, and observe residents.

We invite you to find a community near you and schedule your tour.

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