Residential care is any type of care that is provided to patients within a facility for longer than an overnight. There are many types of residential care, but assisted living is one of the most widely used. It is a type of care that provides long-term support for people who can no longer live independently in the home, usually older adults or disabled adults.

There are more specialized types of residential care available to people as well, including nursing home care, memory care, and care for mental illness or addiction. Making the choice to move into assisted living or a residential care facility is not an easy one, but for many people this kind of care is both beneficial and necessary.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a type of residential care that is long-term and that is provided for anyone who either cannot live independently or chooses not to live independently. Residents may include older adults who are no longer able to live at home. These residents may choose on their own to leave home and enter a residential facility, but in some cases they need a push by family to move into assisted living. Another type of resident in assisted living is a disabled person who cannot live independently.

What is Residential Care?

Assisted living is a common type of residential care, but more generally residential care refers to any type of care administered while the patient lives in a facility. The period of the stay may be short and temporary, or it may be considered permanent, such as in assisted living. Patients needing care for mental illness or an addictive disorder may opt for residential care, staying in a specialized facility for weeks or months. Nursing home care is another example, a type of care that provides more medical care than assisted living. Other types of residential care include temporary rehabilitation, from an injury or illness, and hospice care for patients with terminal illnesses.

Residential Care for Disabled Adults

This type of residential care is very similar to what is provided for older adults. Disabled adults who cannot live independently and do not have enough caregiving at home can benefit from an assisted living facility. Specialized residential facilities for disabled adults provide personal and support services, activities, socializing, and most also offer medical care, occupational and physical therapy, and other types of health care and services.

Residential Care for Mental Health and Addictive Disorders

Patients struggling with a severe mental illness or an addictive disorder can benefit from temporary residential care that provides intensive treatment in a safe, supervised setting. Some facilities provide both types of care, while others specialize in mental illness or addiction. Patients are typically evaluated, given initial treatments, such as a detox program for an addictive disorder, or new medications for a mental illness, followed by long-term therapy, support groups, and alternative therapies. These facilities are designed to provide residential care, but also to prepare patients to go back home and live independently.

Continuing Care Communities

Increasingly popular for aging adults, these inclusive communities make transitions between types of care easier. They include an independent living facilities, usually condominiums or apartments, assisted living, and nursing home facilities. A person may choose to move into the independent living home, getting help with housekeeping and similar chores. As that person begins to need more care, he or she can then transition into the community’s assisted living unit, and ultimately into the nursing home if necessary. This kind of community is popular for residential care because it allows residents to transition easily from one unit to another based on need.

Memory Care in Assisted Living

For older adults with memory issues, usually those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, even more intensive care is needed than is provided in general assisted living. Some of these facilities have memory care units, while other residential care facilities are fully dedicated to these types of patients. A memory care unit or facility provides round-the-clock supervision and care for these particularly vulnerable residents. They also offer everything any other residential facility does: personal care, medical care as needed, and support care, like meals and housekeeping.

Short-Term Assisted Living for Respite Care

Respite care is given to those individuals who need assistance or medical care as a short-term arrangement to allow the usual caregiver to have a break. These are typically informal or family caregivers who take care of a loved one around the clock. To be able to rest from the physical and emotional effort that job entails, respite care is available. Many residential assisted living facilities offer short-term stays, such as a week or a weekend to provide respite for the caregiver.

Making a Choice to Move to Assisted Living

Whether it is you or a loved one that may be in need of assisted living, who is struggling with living independently, the decision to move from home to assisted living isn’t easy. For the family caregiver or loved one, the choice may involve a lot of guilt and fear for the well-being of the person in question. If you are caring for an older family member or a disabled family member, deciding when that person needs more care than you can provide is tough. Making the choice for yourself is also difficult. It isn’t easy to admit to needing more help.

To make the right decision, consider all the related factors, including finances, costs of in-home care versus residential care, insurance coverage, and whether or not continuing to care for someone at home prevents you from working. If you are considering assisted living for yourself, weigh the pros and cons and consider finances, your current limitations, how much help you have now, and what you can expect to get by moving to assisted living or a continuing care community.

Selecting Residential Care or Assisted Living

When you make the choice to go with residential care or assisted living, the next difficult decision is the facility. Start with a list of needs, such as housekeeping, cooking, an errand service, laundry assistance, social and activity programs. Involve the person who will be going into care to make sure you cover everything. Then take a hard look at finances and decide what insurance will cover and what you can afford each month for care.

With these criteria in mind, you will be able to narrow down your options based on costs, services offered, and location. When you have a short list, visit with the person who will be moving in. Talk to residents and staff and get all your questions answered before you sign any residency agreements. It’s a big step to choose residential care, so take your time looking for the best quality care you can afford.

Residential care and assisted living are necessary for many people with various needs. While it isn’t an easy decision to make, choosing this type of care is important for helping people to get better if they can or to live more safely and with necessary support. When looking for this type of care, you expect to get the best quality care for yourself or for a loved one, but that doesn’t always happen. Be very careful in making the choice of a residential facility and continue to monitor your love done to be sure they are getting the best possible care.