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Throughout the United States, there are many different types of communities designed for seniors.  A senior ready to make a change should consider all the options.  The following glossary of housing terms will help.

Adult Home
Licensed by the New York State Department of Social Services, Adult homes provide long-term residential care, room, board, housekeeping, personal care and supervision to five or more adults unrelated to the operator. Residents must not require medical or nursing care. Adult Homes may be either proprietary, public or not-for-profit.

Enriched Housing Program
Licensed by the New York State Department of Social Services, the Enriched Housing Program is established and operated for the purpose of providing long-term residential care to five or more adults, primarily persons 65 years of age or older, in community-integrated settings resembling independent housing units. The program provides or arranges for the provision of room, board, housekeeping, personal care and supervision. Enriched Housing Programs may be operated only by a public or not-for-profit sponsoring agency.

Assisted Living Program
Licensed by the New York State Department of Social Services and New York State Department of Health, the Assisted Living Program, available through some Adult Homes or Enriched Housing Programs, combines residential and home care services. It was designed as an alternative to nursing home placement. The operator of the Assisted Living Program is responsible for providing or arranging for resident services that must include room, board, housekeeping, supervision, personal care, case management, and home health services (i.e. home health aides, intermittent skilled nursing, medical supplies and equipment, personal emergency response systems and adult day health care).

Shared Housing
A community organization owns a home or leases an apartment that is then rented to three to ten unrelated older persons. The older persons live together as a family, sharing the financial and daily living responsibilities. Sharers are often frail, however, and require the informal oversight and assistance of the third-party community services organization.

Residential Health Care Facility
Licensed by the New York State Department of Health, these facilities are also known as skilled nursing, intermediate or extended care facilities, nursing or convalescent homes. Residential Health Care Facilities integrate custodial care with nursing, psycho-social and rehabilitative services on a continuing basis, providing moderate levels of nursing care for those in better health as well as 24 hour skilled nursing and medical care with physician supervision for the very frail. Each individual’s potential is evaluated at the time of admission and their care is tailored to their unique need. Costs vary depending on the amount and kinds of services offered.

Life Care Community
Life Care Communities are licensed by the New York State Department of Social Services, New York State Department of Health and New York State Department of Insurance with approval by the Life Care Community Council, which includes the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Office for the Aging. These communities offer a full spectrum of care levels and housing alternatives (i.e. cottages, apartments, etc.) on an age-segregated campus. The facility provides congregate meals, supportive assistance, personal care services and a discrete skilled nursing facility to provide chronic skilled nursing, custodial care and various rehabilitative therapies. Generally, residents pay a one-time entrance fee (which may or may not be refundable during the trial period) and/or monthly maintenance fees, which include skilled nursing, care services. A single lifetime contract defines or guarantees the extent of housing and services and level of care the residents receive in exchange for the entry fee and/or monthly fees.

Continuing Care Retirement Community
Not currently statutorily defined and specifically regulated by New York Sate, Continuing Care Retirement Communities provide essentially the same array of services and range of care as Life Care Communities. They may or may not include an entrance fee and can be a strictly rental arrangement or a series of contracts. The levels of supportive services, personal care and health care are purchased separately. The levels of supportive services, personal care and health care are purchased separately. The monthly charge will not include skilled nursing care. The Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (Washington, DC) inspects and accredits those facilities that meet certain criteria with regard to finances, medical care, resident life and management.

Retirement Residences
Not regulated by New York State Retirement Residences are multi-unit housing facilities that are planned, designed and managed to provide for the housing needs of older persons who are active, able to live independently and in good health. Some provide only an age-segregated environment and an opportunity for socialization. Accommodations vary from single rooms with shared baths to apartments in hotel-like suites. Most housing arrangements offer meals, housekeeping, laundry, 24-hour security and recreational and social activities. Amenities may include dining rooms, lounges, community rooms and libraries. Some facilities may have limited medical access; some offer an on-site service coordinator to access personal care services from the community while others have on-site home health care agencies. Residents pay monthly charges that include rent or rent and utilities and in most cases community services or assistive services accessed by the residents are paid for by the resident privately.