Catering for those precious and rewarding years where parents are unfettered from having children to care for or jobs to hold down has become a big business. With the populations average age increasing year upon year as Americans live longer and healthier lives, more and more individuals and couples are approaching their retirement years with their expectations and goals higher than ever. The options available for this discerning sector of the population are defined below:
A retirement community is a very broad, generic term that covers many varieties of housing for retirees and seniors - especially designed or geared for people who no longer work, or restricted to those over a certain age. It differs from a retirement home which is a single building or small complex where no "common areas" for socializing exist. Many retirement communities are planned for that purpose, and have special facilities catering to the needs and wants of retirees, including club houses, golf courses, and on-site medical facilities. Others are "Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities" (NORC), which become retirement oriented due to market forces rather than design.
There are really three broad categories of retirement communities:
- ACTIVE communities (all residential units, no longterm healthcare facilities)
- ACTIVE/SUPPORTIVE communities (a combination of residential and healthcare facilities - also known as "continuing care retirement communities")
- SUPPORTIVE communities (all longterm healthcare units, like assisted living and nursing care)
Retirement communities are often built in warm climates, and are common in Arizona, and Florida but are increasingly being built in and around major cities in cold climates too.
A retirement home is a place of shared residence intended for the elderly. The usual pattern is that each person or couple in the home has an apartment-style room or suite of rooms. Additional facilities are provided within the building. Often this includes facilities for meals, gathering, recreation, and some form of health or hospice care. The level of facilities varies enormously. A place in a retirement home can be paid for on a rental basis, like an apartment, or can be bought in perpetuity on the same basis as a condominium.
A retirement home differs from a nursing home primarily in the level of medical care given. Retirement villages and retirement communities, unlike retirement homes, offer separate and autonomous homes for residents.
A nursing home or skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant Activity of Daily Living (ADL) deficiencies. Residents include the elderly and younger adults with physical disabilities. Adults 18 or older can stay in a skilled nursing facility to receive physical, occupational, and other rehabilitative therapies following an accident or illness. In the US, nursing homes are required to have a licensed nurse on duty 24 hours a day, and during at least one shift each day, one of those nurses must be a Registered Nurse. In April, 2005 there were a total of 16,094 nursing homes in the United States, down from 16,516 in December, 2002. Some states have nursing homes that are considered NF or nursing facility......these homes do not have beds certified for Medicare patients, but can only treat patients whose payments source is Private Pay or Medicaid.