Retirement 101: Retirement Home Types Defined
Written by webtechs

Retirement 101: Retirement Home Types Defined

Are you searching for “types of retirement homes” or “types of retirement communities” while looking to find out which type of senior living community is right for you? If the answer is yes, this guide should help create a clearer picture of all of the different types and explain more about each.

There are a lot of retirement community living options out there, it is okay to feel overwhelmed and confused about the types and styles of care for a senior living community. It is important that you learn terminology and the differences of the senior care solutions so that you can make a good choice for your loved one.

When you start your search, use this guide to learn about the various types of housing options available in the United States.

Independent Living Communities

Senior independent living communities are for seniors who are still independent with few medical problems. Residents will live in a fully equipped private apartment.

There are a variety of apartment sizes from 2 bedrooms to studio apartments. Fine dining services are also offered with a custom designed meal package. Often times, a resident can choose to pay for a certain number of meals daily. There are also frequent social outings and events for entertainment.

These are called:

  • Continuing care retirement community
  • Senior apartments
  • 55+ Communities
  • Retirement villages
  • Congregate care
  • Retirement communities


  • Some government funding through Section 202
  • Mostly Private Pay

Price range:

  • $1500 to $3500 monthly

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are for seniors who cannot live on their own safely, but do not need as much care needed for a nursing home. They receive assistance with medications, daily living activities, housekeeping and meals. There are 3 meals a day provided in a central dining room. Residents have private apartments that have a limited kitchen area. Staff is available 24/7 for additional safety. Many assisted living communities have licensed nursing services. The hours will vary, so be sure to ask about them when you visit. Scheduled transportation and social activities are available as well. There are sometimes a special unity for those with Alzheimer’s but not in all communities

Also called:

  • Personal care home
  • Assisted care community


  • Some take Medicaid
  • Mostly private pay


  • $2800 to $4500 for Alzheimer’s care shared suite
  • $2500 to $4000 monthly depending on apartment size and assistance level

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes have 24/7 skilled nursing care for the elderly who need high levels of medical assistance. 24 hour nursing services are available from a licensed nurse. Most nursing homes do provide short-term rehab stays for those who are recovering from surgery, injury, or illness. Long-term care will have high level care needs and complex medical issues that need routine nursing services. Residents will share rooms and are served meals in a central dining room unless they are too ill. There are also activities and some nursing homes have a special unit for those with Alzheimer’s.

Also called:

  • Long term care facility
  • Skilled nursing center
  • Nursing center
  • Convalescent care


  • Medicaid
  • Private Pay
  • Medicare


  • $4000 to $8000 monthly

Alzheimer’s Care

There are plenty of housing options for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. For those who are memory impaired, it is vital that they have 24/7 care and structured activities to ensure quality of life and safety. Many will try to care for their family at home, but it is hard given the skills that are needed to care for those with memory issues.

If you need a care community, you need to understand that Alzheimer’s care is done in assisted living, as well as personal care homes, and nursing homes. Normally, the residents will have a semi-private apartment and structured activities provided by trained staff. Many of these environments will have locked or secured areas that ensure that no one wanders off. Most times within these secured areas, residents will have access to gardens and walking paths.

Also called:

  • Dementia Care
  • Memory Care


  • Medicaid
  • Private Pay


  • $3000 to $7000 monthly

Residential Care Home

Residential care homes are private homes that serve residents that live together and get home from live-in caretakers. These homes have assisted care services for those who want a home like community and privacy. Assistance with daily living like dressing and bathing are provided. The nursing services and amenities will vary. Ask about their services when you visit.

Also Called:

  • Adult family home
  • Board and care home
  • Group home


  • Medicaid
  • Private pay


  • $1500 to $3000 monthly depending on care level and services

Respite Care

Respite care is a place that gives caregivers a break by allowing the resident to have a short-term stay in the community that will meet their needs. Most assisted living communities and nursing homes have respite care. The resident can stay from a week to over a month depending on the situation. They will receive the services that the community offers. Respite care stays are also a good way for the elderly to get acquainted with their new residence. Most residents find that they enjoyed their stay and are willing to move in after their visit. Respite programs are also available for Alzheimer’s and assisted living residents.

Also called:

  • Adult day care
  • Short-term stay programs


  • Medicaid
  • Private Pay


  • $75 to $150 daily

Home Care

Home care will allow the elderly to stay in their home while receiving assistance that is needed to help them to stay independent. Normally, home care involves assistance with daily living activities like dressing, bathing, and meals or instrumental daily activities like making appointments, transportation, paying bills or just being there for companionship and emotional support. Home care services range from once a week to 24 hours daily depending on needs.

Also called:

  • In-home personal care
  • Home health care
  • Home care aide


  • Medicaid/Medicare via certified home health agencies
  • Private Pay


  • $20 to $40 an hour

Senior Housing Options Comparison

The graphic will help lay out the approximate costs for each different type of senior care and living services.  Families can use this information to better plan for their needs.  It details approximate costs, types of services included, and whether each type of care includes things like medication management, personal care, transportation, and much more.  Knowing the needs of each senior helps pick the best level of care that fits their preferences and care level.

Service or Feature Alzheimer’s Care Nursing Home Assisted Living Independent living Communities
Cost per Month


$3000 to $7000 $4000 to $8000 $2500 to $4000 $1500 to $3500
Medication Management


Yes Yes Yes No
Meals Per Day


3+ 3+ 3+ Meal plan options
Mobility Assistance


Yes Yes Yes No
Personal Care*


Yes Yes Yes No
Accepts Wheelchairs


Yes Yes Yes Yes
On-site Nurses*


Varies Yes Varies No
Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care


Yes Varies Varies No


Yes Yes Yes Varies


Yes Yes Mostly Yes Mostly Yes
Incontinence Care Yes Yes Yes No


Personal Laundry Yes Yes Mostly Yes Varies


*Personal Care and On-Site Nurses may be available through third-parties.

*All Costs are calculated in US Dollars