Understanding the Basics of Senior Living and Retirement Communities

Christwood Campus

With all the options there are for senior living in Louisiana, it can be a challenge to decide where you want to live — or which one would help your loved one enjoy a better quality of life.

In this blog post, we’ll provide basic descriptions of the different types of communities and what kinds of services and amenities you can expect to find in them. Know that we’re here to answer your questions, whether they’re specifically about Christwood or not.

Senior Living

Let’s start at the beginning. If you’ve done even a small amount of research about retirement communities in Louisiana, then you’ve probably seen the term “senior living” used quite a bit. Essentially, senior living refers to a lifestyle or a type of community for people who are 55 or older. Most of the various communities we’ll describe are for people in this age group.

55-Plus Communities

These are age-restricted neighborhoods or complexes where at least one resident per household must be at least 55 years old. The age restrictions vary from one 55+ community to the next.

Many will allow younger adults to live in the community, though some permit only a few exceptions. Most commonly, younger spouses and adult children of residents who are 55 or older are welcome.

Whether homes are rented or owned depends on the specific community. They may be apartments, condos, townhouses, mobile homes, patio homes, single-family dwellings or a mix of these.

Some offer social activities and amenities, such as a pool, tennis courts and gym. A property manager or the property owner is responsible for landscaping and upkeep of the common areas (all areas other than the residences). In some communities, maintenance of the residences is also provided.

Health care services and assisted living are not provided in these communities, so residents must seek this type of care outside of the community or from a home health provider.

Independent Living Communities

These are similar in many ways to 55-plus communities, but the emphasis on lifestyle and convenience is far greater.

In most cases, all home maintenance and upkeep are provided, including repairs inside and outside the home. Security services are usually provided around the clock, and services such as housekeeping and laundry are often available.

Independent living communities often include amenities, such as:

• On-site dining, often at multiple venues and frequently upscale in quality
• A robust social activities calendar and an activities director or coordinator on staff
• Wellness programs, which can incorporate anything from fitness, meditation and yoga classes to nutrition counseling by a professional dietitian
• A shuttle service to nearby grocery stores, restaurants and places of business
• Educational programs, sometimes in conjunction with nearby (or remote) colleges and universities

Other amenities you may find in independent living communities include a pool, library, community store, theater, spa, salon/barber shop, woodworking shop and chapel.

Health care services are available, though the type and level can vary substantially.

This type of community is for older adults who can still live on their own and who want to engage in an active lifestyle in the company of their peers.

Assisted Living Communities

As the name implies, this type of community is for older adults who need a little help with their everyday routine.

For example, they might need some assistance with grooming and getting dressed. Or, they may need help with meals to ensure they’re getting proper nutrition. Maybe they need reminders to make sure they’re taking their medications as prescribed.

While a family member or home health agency could provide these services, many seniors find that moving to an assisted living community is a better option for several reasons. One of the top reasons is that most assisted living communities provide social activities and fitness classes they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

More often than not, adults who feel limited in their current environment will flourish in an assisted living community. Having easy access to the assistance they need helps ease any anxieties they may have. And, being around others their age usually encourages them to participate in activities. Many new friendships have been forged in assisted living communities.

Memory Care

Older adults who are experiencing the early stages of cognitive impairment may eventually develop dementia. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, which is a specific type of dementia.

A memory care community provides a secure environment for seniors with dementia, along with specially trained staff who know how to interact with them in ways that calm and encourage them.

In this setting, residents who were withdrawn or uncommunicative will often become more responsive. Many feel comfortable engaging in the regular activities that are offered, such as music therapy or group conversations designed to stimulate the brain’s memory functions.

Residents are monitored night and day to make sure they stay safe. Many memory care communities have secure outside areas, where residents can enjoy some fresh air and sunshine (and possibly even do some gardening) without concerns of them wandering away.

Skilled Nursing Communities

A skilled nursing community, also referred to as skilled care, provides an advanced level of care after an illness, injury or surgery. In most cases, skilled nursing care follows a hospital stay. Not all people who receive these services are older adults.

Some senior living communities have skilled nursing on their campus, often in their health center. In such cases, this care may be for residents only, or it may be open to people who live outside of the community.

Rehabilitation Communities

These are communities that provide therapy after an illness, injury or surgery. Most offer physical, occupational and speech therapies.

It’s not unusual for senior living communities to offer these services on-site. As with skilled nursing, some retirement communities offer their rehabilitation therapy services to people outside of the community.

Life Care Communities and CCRCs

A continuing care retirement community, or CCRC, offers a complete range of lifestyle and health care options, all on the same campus or in the same building. The type of contract residents sign to live in a CCRC will vary, depending on how the community is structured.

Some require residents to pay for the services they use on a fee-for-service basis. Others charge an entrance fee and/or a monthly service fee.

What distinguishes Life Care communities from other CCRCs?

A Life Care community is a type of CCRC that guarantees priority access to the community’s health care services for life.

Residents in a Life Care community have access to all levels of care the community provides, from assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing, with a modest increase in their monthly fee for those services. This gives them the peace of mind that comes with knowing the cost of their future care will be predictable and manageable.

Christwood is one of the few Life Plan communities in the North Shore area, so if you’re interested in independent living in Covington that offers the full spectrum of amenities and care services at a known cost, both now and in the years ahead, we invite you to learn more about us.

Along with all of the amenities and services you’d expect from a Life Plan community, we offer an impressive selection of residence options — 17 floor plans in all, including apartment homes and cottages.

What Else Sets Christwood Apart? Come Find Out!

You have options for independent living and assisted living in Covington, and we urge you to explore them all.

We believe you’ll be impressed by the lifestyle we offer, which is more than just an array of amenities and services. We say that because it’s really the people here who make this such a warm and inviting community.

One of the best ways to learn about our community is to spend some time here. We have a guest suite available if you’d like to spend the night, or several nights and experience the community from the perspective of a resident.

Whether or not you come for an overnight visit, you can always come check out the Christwood Community Center. Residents of Christwood can take advantage of all that’s available at the community center at no additional cost. The community center is also open to others in the North Shore area who are at least 55, with a membership. That’s a great way to get a feel for whether you’d like to live at Christwood.

We hope this post has helped help you learn more about the different types of retirement communities. If you’d like to learn more about Christwood in particular, contact us. We’ll gladly answer your questions and, if you’re interested, we’ll set up a time for you to visit.

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