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Today's retirement communities are a far cry from the "nursing homes" of the past. Your loved ones have choices that their parents never dreamed of considering. In fact, one of the biggest challenges they may face is deciding which living option suits them best.

You can help your loved ones make a good decision by learning all you can about the different choices available to them. Here's a quick guide to some of the most popular offerings and how Friendship Village could be the right fit for them… and you:

Continuing Care Retirement Community
A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers a full range of living options, including Residential Living, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing. Regardless of what life brings, residents can find the right living accommodation at the right time.

Typically, residents pay an Entrance Fee to join the community, plus a Monthly Service Fee covering everything from meals to real estate taxes, utilities, transportation services, home maintenance, housekeeping and a full cultural enrichment program. Entrance Fees can be non-refundable, partially refundable or 100 percent refundable and offer a lifetime discount or free days in assisted living or skilled nursing. Friendship Village is committed to delivering the highest level of care and recently earned its fifth accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Friendship Village was the first Continuing Care Retirement Community in Illinois to become accredited and has chosen to engage in the accreditation process year after year.

Residential or Independent Living
Residential or Independent Living communities usually offer apartments on a rental basis to people targeted by age, generally 62 or older. Many of these communities are operated by for-profit organizations and typically do not include access to assisted living or skilled care. So if you need care down the road, you would have to move from the place you call home. In order to receive the care you need without having to change your address and leave the place you love, a CCRC like Friendship Village offers a higher level of care all on one campus.

Assisted Living
Assisted Living communities generally offer apartments — either private or shared — plus an array of services that help residents manage their day-to-day living activities. Aides are available to help residents get dressed, take showers and move about the community. Typically, these communities provide their residents with three meals a day, plus a full program of recreational and cultural pursuits. Many of these communities do not include skilled care. So, if you need care down the road, you would have to move from the place you call home. Most of these communities are operated by for-profit providers on a pay-as-you-go basis. Only a handful of assisted living communities in Illinois offer subsidies for low-income older adults. Call the Illinois Senior HelpLine toll-free at 800-252-8966 or (TTY) 888-206-1377 if you live in Illinois. Call 217-524-6911 if you live elsewhere.

Skilled Nursing Care
Skilled Nursing Care communities offer professional nursing services for all residents and are commonly referred to as "nursing homes." The vast majority are equipped to provide older adults with rehabilitation services to help with recovery from surgery or illness. These types of short-term stays are typically covered by Medicare. A smaller number provide long-term care for people with conditions requiring 24-hour attention by skilled nurses. These types of stays are not typically covered by Medicare.

Home Assistance
Home Assistance provides in-home support for seniors so they can remain in their residence. Some of the services provided through home assistance include home health aide services, transportation, meals, shopping, obtaining prescription medications, home maintenance, assistance with bill paying and more.