The state of North Carolina offers charming towns, four seasons without the brunt of a long winter, and access to the mountains and the beach within a quick drive depending on your location. It’s no wonder many older adults flock to North Carolina during retirement. In addition to the beauty, North Carolina offers a lower cost of living than the national average and an affordable housing market compared to neighboring states.
If you are ready to explore senior living in North Carolina, whether you currently live there or not, here are a few commonly asked questions along with the answers you need to make your best decisions in this next phase of life.
How Many Senior Living Communities Are There in North Carolina?
North Carolina recognizes the need for senior living, and the state offers a plethora of senior living options. The North Carolina Assisted Living Association reports more than 240 assisted living communities in the state, and that number doesn’t include the skilled nursing facilities or independent living senior communities that can also be found in the state.
In general, it is safe to say there is a senior living community in or near your desired location. In larger cities or suburbs, there are multiple communities that will likely fit your needs. However, smaller towns in more rural areas also have vibrant senior living communities, ensuring you can find one in your preferred area.
What Is Senior Living in North Carolina Like?
Senior living in North Carolina is similar to senior living throughout the rest of the country. Communities offer support, resources, and amenities that give older adults the opportunity to be healthier, enjoy ample socialization with peers, and have peace of mind as they age.
You can find a variety of senior living solutions throughout the state, including independent living, assisted living, dementia care, and skilled nursing. There are also continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), which offer more than one solution on a larger campus.
Assisted living, dementia care, and skilled nursing services are regulated by the NC Division of Health Service Regulation. This means that each community must follow regulations and rules set forth by the state in order to continue operating and serving residents. Communities are reviewed regularly in order to ensure compliance.
Is Senior Housing in North Carolina Different Than Senior Living?
When it comes to senior living, there are a few terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. For example, “retirement community” and “independent living community” are often synonymous terms. “Senior housing” can refer to senior living communities as well, including affordable housing options or active adult planned communities.
Each community features its own benefits and drawbacks, depending on the lifestyle or assistance you desire now and in the future.
What Senior Living Communities Are in NC?
Senior living options are not all the same, which can cause some confusion as you begin your search. Here are the common types of senior living communities throughout North Carolina. Use this information to narrow down what type of community you may want now as well as in the future.
Independent living communities are designed for older adults who are seeking to downsize and eliminate the upkeep, maintenance, and chores associated with homeownership. These communities offer a variety of living options — typically apartments, villas, or cottages. Amenities can include transportation services, concierge services, landscaped walking trails, resort-like spaces, on-site salons, and on-site fitness or wellness centers. Although there is staff available around the clock for security purposes, there typically are no caregivers available to assist with tasks.
Assisted living communities offer the same luxury amenities as independent living as well as the peace of mind that comes with knowing a team of trained caregivers is available 24 hours per day. These communities serve seniors who need some type of assistance with at least one activity of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, or getting around. Caregivers are there to offer the right amount of assistance without compromising independence and to provide help in case of an emergency. Residents enjoy three meals per day in a social dining room along with planned activities and events daily.
Dementia care communities are specialized assisted living communities, catering specifically to adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. These communities are designed from the ground up to meet challenges that can come with cognitive decline. Staff members including caregivers and nurses offer personalized assistance, and they receive additional training about best practice approaches for dementia. As in assisted living communities, residents enjoy three meals per day in a social dining room along with custom adaptations as needed. Events, activities, and trips are designed to enhance quality of life as well as offer emotional support.
Skilled nursing facilities, sometimes called SNFs or rehabilitation centers, offer around-the-clock clinical care for residents living with medically complex conditions or chronic pain. These communities typically offer both short-term rehabilitation services for those needing to recover after a hospital stay or procedure and long-term housing for seniors who need significant care. These communities often have on-site physical, occupational, and speech therapy services.
It is common for some senior living communities to offer more than one option in one building or on one campus. These communities can be especially appealing for couples with different needs or for someone who wants to plan for all the possible challenges that can come with aging.
What Factors Influence the Cost of Senior Living in NC?
When it comes to senior living, many older adults and their family members are pleasantly surprised to discover that it is not as expensive as they thought. In fact, because senior living fees often cover more than just a mortgage, living there can be less expensive or at least comparable to living at home alone.
A variety of factors can influence the monthly fee associated with senior living, including type of floor plan and additional care needs. Factors that can offset monthly costs can include long-term care insurance or even veterans benefits. It is best to talk candidly with the senior living communities on your final decision list about your financial concerns, as well as to review your budget and goals with your personal financial planner.
Finding a senior living community in North Carolina is a big task, but you don’t have to feel overwhelmed if you are empowered with good information. Our guide, Finding a Safe and Comfortable Senior Living Community, offers expert tips to guide you along the entire process. You’ll discover more about the differences between senior living options and the questions to ask during the touring process.
It is best to make a determination about senior living before a medical crisis occurs. This way, you can take your time with the process as you find a community that you will love for years to come. Good luck as you begin this exciting part of the retirement process!