It's easiest to distinguish assisted living, at least in Minnesota. On January 1st 2007 there was legislation enacted that said you must-at a minimum-provide the following services to call yourself assisted living:
- Two meals each day
- Housekeeping and laundry service available at least once a week
- Help in arranging transportation to medical and similar appointments
- Help in arranging social services and in accessing other community resources
- Opportunities for socializing
- Either assistance with self-administration of medications or administration of medications
- Assistance with at least three of the following activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, transferring, continence care and toileting
- A system to check on each assisted living client at least daily
- A system that enables assisted living clients to request and receive assistance with health or safety needs round-the-clock
- An awake person, available round-the-clock to respond to assisted living client's requests for assistance.In small settings with 12 or fewer clients, the person responsible for responding to requests is allowed to sleep if adequate safeguards are in place.
- Staff in an assisted living building must be able to reach a registered nurse 24 hours per day, seven days a week, regarding any health issue that may arise for a resident.
As for the rest of those terms (55+ housing, active adult communities, independent living, housing with services) the differences are as varied as the different senior housing complexes throughout the twin cities. Even if you purchase a senior condominium in an active adult community, they are likely to have transportation to a community event, or a regularly scheduled card game or two. In fact, many independent senior buildings offer transportation, some meals, some organized events, pull cords in the rooms in case of emergency, 24 hour security or concierge service, and additional personalized services for an additional fee.
These additional services is where the line between independent living and housing with services are blurred. It's a marketing challenge for the senior housing communities. They want you, the consumer, to know they offer services, but they can't call themselves assisted living.
As a consumer, would you be more drawn to housing labeled as an active adult community, independent living, or housing with services?
As a consumer you want to be sure you aren't misled by these industry terms. You want to be clear about what it is you'd like to purchase (or rent), then find the senior housing that most closely aligns with your wants, needs and pocket book.
Here's the bottom line, don't get stuck on how these communities label themselves. Get the list of floor plans, services and prices for each so you can compare for yourself.