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Senior living care options

A retirement community is just one option among many in the senior living landscape. And there are so many factors to consider when choosing which is best for you.

If access to and cost of care are high on your priority list, you may want to have a deeper understanding of how each residential option stacks up when it comes to independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing.

Each scenario comes with vastly different approaches and costs, as you’ll read below.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

One of the biggest benefits of a CCRC, also known as a Life Plan Community, is baked right into the name: You’ve got a plan in place for your life ahead, including care, if you need it.

The big questions surrounding who will care for you and where you’ll receive your care are already answered — as well as how much it will cost, if you choose a Type A community, also known as inclusive care.


Type A Life Plan Communities (like 9 of Vi’s 10 communities) are designed for residents to move in while they’re independent, with medical and age qualifications in place — but care is included later on, from assisted living to skilled nursing and memory care.

If the need for care arises, you have 24-hour staff on hand in the care center to help, including licensed and certified caregivers who have been vetted by a credible third party. And, of course, through your entrance fee and monthly fees, your costs are predictable and do not change between independent living and higher levels of care.

Three women laugh while they drink sangria in an apartment.

Types B and C offer the same security of the on-site care benefits; the important difference between these and Type A is that you would pay for these services as needed.

Staying at home or renting

On the surface, aging in place at home or moving into a rental community can seem more cost-effective and simpler, logistically, than a move to a CCRC.

But if you dig a little deeper into potential needs for care in the future, things get a bit more complex. Although there are plenty of in-home care options out there, you'll have to do the research yourself to find trustworthy care providers. Keep in mind, the person you hire will ultimately be invited into the privacy of your home to play this role, so vetting is a hugely important part of the process.

You don’t have to navigate these decisions alone: Many municipalities have Area Agencies on Aging that are designed to help. Visit eldercare.gov for more information on services where you live.

Standalone care services: assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing

If you’ve chosen to stay at home or move to a rental community, the time may come where you need more dedicated on-site care that simply can’t be provided where you currently live. So a move (temporary or permanent, depending on your situation) to a specialized care provider may be in order.

Assisted living, memory support, and skilled-nursing facilities provide around-the-clock staff that provide services ranging from basic living assistance to specialized medical care.

When choosing a standalone care service provider, you can tailor your decision to suit your budget at the time, as well as your level of need — provided you’re in a position to do the research necessary to make an informed decision about where you go.

Consider, too, that if you’re planning on only a temporary stay — in skilled nursing, for example, as you recover from surgery or a fall — you may need to arrange for someone to take care of your house, collect your mail, ensure bills are paid, and more while you’re gone.

Whether you plan to stay at home, rent, or need a standalone facility, the cost of your care will be at market rates.

Want to learn more about the financial aspects of care? Visit our online resource.

A man in a green shirt lifts a hand weight with supervision from a Vi staff member.
Loved ones as caregivers

Without a plan for future care in place, decisions about caregiving can fall to spouses, children, and other family members. In many cases, the caregiving itself can fall to loved ones, resulting in an even larger burden.

According to a 2015 survey, about 34.2 million Americans reported providing unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the previous year, with 85% of those caring for a relative such as a parent or spouse. 2

And providing that care is no small task — CCRCs, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care come with significant price tags for a reason. In the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, caregivers reported spending:

  • 13 days each month on tasks like shopping and cooking, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation
  • 6 days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and assistance toileting
  • 13 hours per month researching care services or information on disease, coordinating physician visits, or managing financial matters
Determining your care priorities

Considering your access to care in the future is just one part of this research and decision-making process, but it’s an important one.

If you’re looking to have a plan in place for future care at predictable rates, a Type A CCRC may be an ideal fit!