A quick primer for decoding the alphabet soup of senior living acronyms

The acronyms used by the senior living business can look like Alphabet soup and be as baffling as a secret code. So here’s a simple way to decode the myriad of senior living options available today:

MLC – Multi-Level Living Community

Multi-Level Living Communities offer two or more levels of living under one roof. Combinations may include: Assisted living/memory support, independent living/assisted living, or assisted living/memory support/skilled nursing. Each area of living is typically contained within its own neighborhood.

CCRC – Continuing Care Retirement Communities

If a multi-level community starts with independent living and also includes assisted living and skilled nursing care, then it qualifies to be a Continuing Care Retirement Community or “CCRC.” This is the most common type of multi-level community. You will likely find a memory support neighborhood within a CCRC as well. CCRCs offer a range of combinations of living levels. Some may include only independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Others may offer these basic levels, plus a memory support neighborhood as well as long-term and short-term skilled nursing services and even rehab services.

A CCRC allows residents to transition between the levels of living as needs arise, often with discounted or special pricing.

“Life Plan Community” is another term used to describe CCRCs. The term is a reference to an individual’s ability to live in one community for the rest of his or her life. This new term was created to reflect how retirement communities have evolved into vibrant villages that offer a range of creative and social opportunities for personal enrichment as well as health care services.

SAC – Stand Alone Communities

Standalone communities offer only one area of living, for example just assisted living.

IL – Independent Living

Independent living is a popular option for active seniors who want a carefree lifestyle with many services and amenities, and who desire a maintenance-free lifestyle. Independent living residences come in a variety of options, including apartment homes, single family homes, or duplexes. Keep your car if you want, but generally transportation is provided. Each independent living residence features a complete kitchen, but independent living also includes meals prepared in a variety of dining venues.

AL – Assisted Living

Assisted Living options provide a helping hand with activities of daily living, such as medication management, bathing and dressing. Also provided are hospitality services that include a full meal program, snacks, housekeeping, transportation, activities and outings. Assisted Living provides just enough help to allow individuals to improve their independence. Assisted Living apartments feature a kitchenette that generally includes a refrigerator, microwave and cabinet storage.

MS – Memory Support

The Memory Support lifestyle is similar to assisted living. Care for activities of daily living are provided, along with hospitality services, but Memory Support is located within a secure neighborhood to keep residents safe. It is specifically designed to cater to individuals who experience memory loss due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Here, health care professionals and staff are specifically trained to work with individuals with memory loss. Residences include semi-private rooms or private suites. Some communities offer private suites that include a private bath. Although most memory support neighborhoods fall under the assisted living license, memory support may also fall under the skilled nursing license. On a rare occasion you may find a CCRC with both memory support assisted living and memory support skilled nursing.

SNF – Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled Nursing Facilities provide 24/7 medical supervision to individuals whose health conditions require around-the-clock monitoring and attention from licensed professionals. Skilled nursing services can be provided on a long- or short-term basis. Some communities locate long-term and short-term care into separate neighborhoods. Short-term skilled nursing is provided for residents who may be recovering from a medical condition or surgery. Nursing care accommodations can include semi-private and private rooms. Some communities offer private suites with private baths.

RB – Rehab Services

Rehabilitation therapy is offered in a skilled care environment as an adjunct to skilled nursing care. Individuals who have undergone surgery, or who have suffered a physical setback such as stroke or heart attack often require rehab therapy after hospitalization. The rehab team can include physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists and speech therapists. Rehab accommodations include private and semi-private rooms as well as rehab gyms.

HH – Home Health

Home Health provides a wide range of services and can enable seniors who wish to live in their own homes to remain there longer. Licensed home health provides nursing care, and these services can range from medical care, to in-home rehab therapy. Personal Assistance Service is another type of home health care, which can provide assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, light housework and companionship.

AH – Affordable Housing

Senior communities that are subsidized by HUD are often referred to as Affordable Housing. This government-subsidized, independent living option is available to seniors aged 62+ with fixed incomes. It provides them the opportunity to live in a safe, comfortable community with activities and among their peers.