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Today’s older adults have a variety of options when it comes to senior living. Over the past few decades, the senior living industry has changed and adapted to meet the needs of aging adults. Thanks to the baby boomer generation, today’s senior living communities are less clinical and more active, giving seniors everything they need to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

However, having multiple options to choose from can cause some confusion. For example, assisted living and personal care are two terms used here in Pennsylvania that can sometimes leave older adults and their family members wondering whether the two are the same thing. Though they are somewhat similar, assisted living and personal care options are also quite different. Here is what you need to know about these senior living solutions, as well as how to make the best decision for your current and future needs.

Assisted Living vs. Personal Care: A Quick History

In Pennsylvania, the terms “assisted living” and “personal care” were used interchangeably through 2010. It was common for even senior living professionals throughout the state to use the terms as synonyms. However, in January 2011, the state decided that there should be a way to distinguish between assisted living communities and personal care communities.

Today, communities in Pennsylvania must have a license for either assisted living or personal care. Each license requires the community to meet different requirements in order to gain either their personal care or assisted living license.

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How Assisted Living and Personal Care Are Different

Senior living is not one size fits all, and most seniors have needs that are on a continuum. When an older adult needs some additional assistance with daily tasks, independent living communities are no longer a great fit. Instead, personal care communities can offer those additional services so that the senior stays as healthy and as active as possible.

Personal care communities offer their residents perks such as three meals per day served in a social dining room setting and prepared by a team of chefs who pay close attention to both taste and nutrition. Residents in personal care also enjoy the support of caregivers who are there to assist with daily activities like dressing, showering, and medication management. Housekeeping team members assist with regular household cleaning and staff members are also happy to help with laundry. Residents also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing a nurse oversees their personalized care plan and can communicate with their physician as needed.

By contrast, assisted living communities in Pennsylvania are designed to provide personal care services in addition to more skilled nursing interventions. This means that seniors who have skilled nursing needs are able to live successfully in assisted living communities for longer, without making a switch to a more clinical environment.

When to Choose Personal Care

Choosing a senior living community is an important part of your retirement plans. Though each senior is unique and has their own preferences and challenges, you might be a good fit for personal care if you can identify with any of these statements.

  • I have fallen in the past six months.
  • I feel lonely sometimes alone in my home.
  • Planning and preparing meals three times per day for myself is overwhelming and I avoid it.
  • I would benefit from someone helping me with household tasks and chores.
  • I’m exhausted after daily hygiene tasks like showering or dressing.
  • I’m tired of managing my medications on my own; the schedule and doses are confusing sometimes.
  • I would like the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is close by to help me in case of an emergency.

You can find other helpful tips for choosing the best senior living community for you by downloading our free resource, Finding a Safe and Comfortable Senior Living Community.

Personal Care at Arbor Terrace Exton

At Arbor Terrace Exton, our personal care community is thriving. We specialize in creating meaningful relationships with the residents we serve daily, and it’s our goal to offer the resources they need to stay healthy and happy. Our personal care residents enjoy benefits like:

  • Spacious apartments that include a fridge and cabinets for your favorite snacks or leftovers from your family gathering
  • Engaging programs and events held daily
  • Delicious meals served in our dining room three times per day
  • Our award-winning Dining with Dignity® program for those with nutritional or dietary challenges
  • Housekeeping, laundry, and concierge services
  • Friendly and compassionate caregivers who are ready to assist with daily tasks

We would love to tell you more about personal care in our community. Call us today to learn more about what makes our home so special.

Safe & Comfortable Senior Living Community Guide

Laura Ellen Christian

About the Author: Laura Ellen Christian

Laura is the Vice President of Engagement at The Arbor Company.

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