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What is a Continuum of Care in Senior Living?

Happy senior friends enjoying the weather outside

If you’re like many older adults approaching retirement, you may assume all retirement communities are more or less the same. However, as you dig into exploring your senior living options, it quickly becomes apparent there are many different levels of care you can access in a retirement community. Some offer one or more levels of senior care; others provide a full continuum of care to meet your needs now and in the future.


What Is a Continuum of Care?

To put it simply, a continuum of care represents a series of living options at various levels of support within a senior living community. A community offering a continuum of care typically offers independent living residences, as well as health services like assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

You’ll typically find a continuum of care at a Life Plan Community, also known as a continuing care retirement community or CCRC. These communities are attractive because they allow residents to access additional levels of care as their needs change over time, all without leaving the familiar comfort of the place they call home.

A related but slightly different term is “Life Care,” which actually refers to a type of contract available at some Life Plan Communities (including Galleria Woods) that gives residents access to a full continuum of care at a steady monthly fee comparable to what they paid in independent living, even if their needs change.


What Living Options Fall Within a Continuum of Care?

The specific collection of living options or levels of care a community offers may vary slightly from one community to the next, but these are the common living options you’re most likely to find:

Independent living: Residents are generally self-sufficient and enjoy active retirement lifestyles. They appreciate the freedom from the responsibilities of homeownership and access to resort-like amenities and services that enhance their quality of life. Often, seniors who are attracted to the idea of a Life Plan Community enter the community as independent living residents so they can take advantage of the lifestyle while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with knowing there’s a plan in place for the future.

Assisted living: A primary goal of assisted living is helping residents retain their independence as long as possible. Residents are still autonomous in many ways but need support with certain aspects of daily life that don’t warrant medical care by a licensed professional. For example, they might need help with activities of daily living like bathing, grooming, dressing or eating. Medication management is also a common service for assisted living residents. Like independent living residents, assisted living residents benefit from the community’s enriching programming and wellness resources.

Skilled nursing: When a resident needs medical care that must be administered by a licensed professional, skilled nursing is often the answer. Skilled nursing facilities can support someone with a chronic medical condition that requires long-term care with services such as wound care, injections, physical therapy and vital sign monitoring, among others.

Rehabilitation: Following an illness, injury or hospital stay, seniors often need help regaining strength and healing before they’re ready to resume their previous lifestyle. Rehabilitative care is typically short-term care that allows the resident to focus their attention on their health and healing. Various therapies, retraining on how to execute activities of daily living (such as following a stroke) and learning how to use adaptive or assistive equipment are just some of the ways a short-term stay in a rehabilitation community can help a senior who has experienced a setback achieve their goals.


Start Planning Your Future

Life Care communities, like Galleria Woods, offer a bridge between independent living and a continuum of care. Learn how our Life Care community can support seniors at each stage, from living independently to long-term care and senior rehabilitation. Call or complete a form to learn how our community in Birmingham, Alabama, could be the perfect fit for you now and in the future.