The Senior Living Spectrum
The spectrum of care available to seniors can sometimes be confusing, leaving a person not knowing where to
start. The outline below breaks down and defines the available options and ranges from adult day care to
hospice. Understanding the terminology used for various types of care will help you make an informed
Nursing facilities and assisted living facilities are considered "I" Occupancy (Insititutional Occupancy)
buildings and are required, by the state of Iowa, to have architectural design drawings signed and sealed by a
licensed Iowa architect.
Average costs listed below are for the state of Iowa and can be influenced by a number of variables. There are
multiple resources available to assist you in finding the appropriate level of care. Sources for additional
information are listed below the outline.
- Adult Day Care
- Definition: Adult day care is a non-residential facility that provides daytime supervision, socialization,
and entertainment for anyone over the age of 18. In Iowa, adult day care is defined as an organized program
designed to provide health, social and related support services to adults. Adult day cares are
professionally staffed and are a group setting. In many cases, adult day care is used to relieve a primary
caregiver of his or her duties.
- Costs: The average cost of adult day care in Iowa is about $64 per day or $1,300 per month.
- Senior Apartments
- Definition: These are apartments specifically designed for seniors who do not require supervision, have
total freedom, and desire to be among people in their own age group. They often have a limited amount of
stairs and include in-unit laundry facilities. There are limited activities and very few additional
- Costs: Rental fees range from $530-$1,145 per month.
- Independent Living
- Definition: For independent individuals and designed with the same advantages as senior apartments (no
yard work or household repairs), but offer a number of services that enhance the quality of life for
residents.These services typically include meals, transportation, housekeeping, laundry service, social and
educational activities, a 24-hour emergency help call system and most often, access to additional care in
case there is a health change. Room sizes will range from studios to two bedrooms.
- Cost: There are 126 Independent Living Communities in Iowa with an average cost of $2,247 per month.
- Retirement Community
- Definition: A retirement community is a residential community or housing complex designed
for older adults who are generally able to care for themselves; however, assistance from
home care agencies is allowed in some communities, and activities and socialization
opportunities are often provided.
- Cost: There are 98 retirement communities in Iowa. The average cost of retirement
communities in Iowa is $22,558 per year.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community - CCRC
- Definition: Retirement communities that provide a full continuum of care including
independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled care. Adults must be capable
of living on their own when they initially join a CCRC. To join, residents sign lifelong
contracts that guarantee they will receive housing, services, and nursing care. A CCRC can
be based on a rental property or a real estate purchase, depending on the specific
- Cost: CCRCs tend to be expensive with monthly fee ranging from $400-$2,500. Some may require new residents
to pay an initial fee that can range from $43,000-$400,000.
- Respite care
- Definition: Temporary institutional care for someone who is dependent, elderly, ill or handicapped.
Typically, used for a short period of time to provide care and rest for the individual. Also designed to
give caregivers rest. Respite care can be provided in a person's home as well as in a care facility. There
are 393 respite care facilities in Iowa.
- Cost: The average cost of respite care in Iowa is $61,685 per year, with costs ranging from $5,220 to
$11,267 per month.
- Personal Care at Home: Usually distinguished from medical care. Services are usually provided by someone
who is not a nurse, doctor, or other licenses medical professional. Usually help is provided with meals,
hygiene, entertainment, and transportation.
- Assisted Living
- Definition: Residents are usually independent and are given long-term personal care such
as meals, medication management, financial assistance such as paying bills, bathing,
dressing, transportation, and socialization. The most valuable thing that assisted living
facilities offer is the safety and security of 24-hour support and access to care if needed.
- Cost: Between $3,580-$5,300 per month.
- Memory Care
- Definition: Memory care is similar to assisted living, but is best suited for adults with
progressive cognitive impairments. Such impairments include dementia and Alzheimer's
disease and other memory problems. People sometimes use the terms dementia and
Alzheimer's disease interchangeably. However, they are two distinct conditions.
- Cost: Average is $61,685 per year with costs ranging from $3,600 to $7,700 per month
Dementia: In order to receive the diagnosis of dementia one much display two core mental
function impairments that are severe enough to interfere with daily living. Core mental
functions include memory, language skills, ability to focus and pay attention, ability to
reason and problem-solve, and visual perception.
Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys memory. In
Alzheimer's disease, the brain cells degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in
memory and mental function. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.
- Nursing Home
- Definition: A nursing home can be public or private and provides a high level of long-term personal and
nursing care for people who are unable to care for themselves. Skilled nurses
and nurses aids are on hand 24 hours per day. A staff provides medical care, physical
therapy, speech and occupational therapy.
- Cost: $61,685 per year, with costs ranging from $3,600 to $7,770 per month
- Definition: Hospice provides end-of-life support in a persons home or a care facility. It is
typically a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, medical equipment and
supplies, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the
patient's needs and wishes.
- Cost: The cost of hospice is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and