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  • Writer's pictureAmy Kalajian

Choosing the Right Senior Living Option: A Guide for Families

When it comes to finding the best living arrangement for a senior loved one, the choices can seem overwhelming. Understanding the differences between various types of senior care facilities is crucial in making an informed decision. 

This guide will help you navigate the options of assisted living, memory care, boarding care, and hospice care, and provide tips on how to assess your loved one's needs.

What are the senior living options?

Assisted Living

Assisted living is great for people who need a little help with everyday tasks but still want to keep their independence. It is a mix of a home-like setting and health care services, making them a safe option for adults who might not be safe living by themselves. 

It is is for seniors who need daily care but not as much as in a skilled nursing home. These communities offer prepared meals, housekeeping, medication management, and help with activities like bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Services vary by state, but here's a general comparison of assisted living with independent living, nursing homes, and memory care facilities.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, or skilled nursing care communities, are perfect for seniors who need round-the-clock nursing care because of complicated health issues or chronic conditions that are too much for assisted living places to handle. These facilities are really good at providing personalized care and a living space for individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia, or similar conditions. With constant medical care from nurses, doctors, and other health professionals right on site, these communities offer strong support for residents with a variety of medical needs.

Skilled nursing care, provided in nursing homes, includes medical and therapy services that must be performed by or under the supervision of licensed professionals. This level of care is necessary to treat, manage, observe, and evaluate medical conditions effectively. Medicare-covered services in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) include a semi-private room, meals, and skilled nursing care. 

Residents may receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services as needed to meet health goals. Medical social services, medications, medical supplies, and equipment are also provided. 

Boarding Care 

Boarding care homes strike a nice balance between independence and support. They're great for elders who like to do their own thing but also like knowing help is there if they need it. These homes provide a unique living situation where a caregiver is always available, around the clock, to provide care and assistance. Residents get to enjoy their own space and freedom, with the comfort of support whenever it's needed.These are adult family care homes, group homes, senior group homes, adult foster care homes, or personal care homes, situated in residential neighborhoods and provide a supportive living environment. These homes are staffed to assist residents with daily routines, focusing on activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and other nonmedical care needs. Typically accommodating between two and ten residents, board and care homes offer a similar level of assistance to that of assisted living facilities, with caregivers available around the clock to provide support as needed. This setup allows residents to enjoy their own space and independence while having access to continuous care and assistance.

Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized type of care tailored specifically for individuals with memory-related conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. It goes beyond what typical assisted living facilities provide by offering a structured environment designed to address the needs of people with memory impairment.

Here is a table to help you compare types of services under each type of care. 

Comparison of Senior Living Care and Services

Assessing Your Loved One's Needs

Choosing the right senior living option begins with a thorough assessment of your loved one's needs. Here are some tips to guide you through the process:

Evaluate Health and Care Requirements

Consider the level of assistance needed with daily activities, medical conditions, and cognitive impairments. Are you or your loved ones having more or less need for assistance when it comes to the following?

  • Special Supportive Services: Need for oxygen or extra assistance

  • Activities of Daily Living: Dressing, feeding, mobility, and medication reminders

  • Dietary/Nutritional Needs: Dietary restrictions and special diets

  • Mobility: Use of canes, walkers, wheelchairs, or scooters

  • Housekeeping: Ability to do laundry, dishes, and cleaning

  • Mental Condition and Confusion: Awareness and memory recall

  • Transportation: Ability to drive or use public transport

  • Medical Needs and Monitoring: Frequency of medical monitoring

  • Medical Administration: Medication reminders and management

  • Health Issues and Conditions: Impact of health conditions on independence

  • Fall History and Risk: History and frequency of falls

  • Level of Mobility: Independence and need for assistive devices

  • Bathroom Assistance: Incontinence management and bathroom use assistance

You can compare this with the descriptions of care types above to decide which type of care is suitable for your needs. 

Keep in mind, you don’t have to navigate through this alone. Professional assessment by our specialists at Remedy Cares can help you make the right choice. 

Visit Different Facilities

Tour several facilities to get a feel for the environment, staff, and services offered. Pay attention to cleanliness, safety measures, and the overall atmosphere.

Proximity to family and friends can make a significant difference in your loved one's well-being. Choose a location that makes visits convenient and supports regular interaction.

Ask Questions

Inquire about staff qualifications, resident-to-staff ratios, and the types of activities and programs available. Understanding the facility's approach to care can help ensure it aligns with your loved one's needs.

Here are some questions you can ask when assessing senior living facilities/options:


  • What is the monthly cost, and what services are included?

  • Are there additional fees for specific services or levels of care?

  • Is there a deposit or entry fee?

  • How often do rates increase, and by how much?

Floor Plans

  • What types of floor plans are available?

  • Are there private and shared rooms?

  • Can we tour different units?

  • Are there options for personalization?

Amenities and Services

  • What amenities are included (e.g., dining, housekeeping)?

  • Are there on-site medical facilities?

  • What transportation services are available?

  • Are pets allowed?

Programming and Activities

  • What types of activities and programs are offered?

  • Are there fitness and wellness programs?

  • Is there a calendar of events we can review?

  • Are there options for off-site outings?

Levels of Care

  • What levels of care are available?

  • Can residents transition to higher levels of care if needed?

  • What is the process for assessing care needs?

  • Are specialized services available (e.g., memory care)?

Caregiver Training

  • What qualifications and training do caregivers have?

  • Is ongoing training provided?

  • Are caregivers certified in CPR and first aid?

  • How are caregivers screened and vetted?

Staff Friendliness

  • How do staff interact with residents?

  • Can we speak with current residents about their experiences?

  • Are staff members approachable and welcoming during our visit?

  • What is the staff turnover rate?

Staff-to-Resident Ratio

  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio during different times of the day?

  • How many caregivers are available during emergencies?

  • How does the ratio vary between different care levels?

Community Culture

  • What is the overall atmosphere of the community?

  • How are new residents integrated?

  • Are there opportunities for family involvement?

  • What do current residents say about living here?

Review Costs and Financial Options

Understand the costs associated with each type of care and explore financial assistance options, such as long-term care insurance, veterans' benefits, and Medi-Cal.

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