People who are in their retirement years may envision staying in their long-time homes indefinitely. For others, though, there are retirement options that maintain independence longer by offering expanded social opportunities, interesting programming, creative cuisine, maintenance-free living, and access to onsite healthcare.

There are a range of housing options that help elders enjoy a better quality of life and peace of mind. Independent living in retirement communities, for example, appeals to those age 55 and older who want to invest in a home with an active and interesting lifestyle, but not have the responsibility of maintaining a property.

If health conditions arise that affect daily living, or if an individual begins to require more assistance with managing activities, there are assisted living communities that offer a range of services with the appropriate level of medical care and personal assistance.

Understanding housing and care options while also recognizing the level of care needed helps older people and their loved ones choose the home that is best for them. Residents who make the right choice for their circumstances settle into a comfortable home and soon enjoy new amenities and social opportunities that are important at every stage of life.

Here are brief descriptions of some of the different types of residential and medical care options available:

• Independent living refers to retirement communities where healthy people age 55 and older invest in housing such as apartments or free-standing houses, alleviating the costs and concerns of home maintenance, landscaping, and snow removal.

The investment is largely returned after its owner or the owner’s estate divests of it. An array of on-campus programming is available such as lectures, performances, art shows, and fine dining, as well as transportation to community outings. No level of medical care is included.

• Assisted living offers individual apartments that include a modest level of medical and personal care, as well as the opportunity to share meals, exercise, and social activities with neighbors in common areas. Assisted living communities offer a home-like environment and caring services that encourage each resident to live life to the fullest.

• Memory care programs offer individual apartments with amenities and medical care for those with memory impairment. Care teams provide tailored, specialty medical care, personal care, amenities, and supervised assistance with all activities of daily living around the clock in a secure setting.

• Skilled nursing or rehabilitation care refers to short-term, inpatient nursing care along with daily therapy services. Patients receive continuing care as they recover from surgery or illness. Daily therapy services are provided to aid in healing and recovery as needed.

• Long-term care is for individuals in need of full-time healthcare. The residential programs offer a complete range of healthcare services including in-home medical care, podiatry, audiology, dental, therapy, laboratory services, and specialized physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment plans.

Some local senior care facilities, like Mid Coast Senior Health Center, offer a continuum of care that pairs housing and health care as residents need it, making it easier for elders to live comfortably and for their families to feel confident in their wellbeing. This allows individuals to live at the highest level of independence possible, receiving the right level of care in the most appropriate setting.

Fully integrated with the local health care system, Mid Coast Senior Health Center works collaboratively with established health-care entities to meet the range of elder care needs in the community.
Additionally, Mid Coast Senior Health center is located adjacent to Thornton Oaks Retirement Community facilitating shared resources, open communication, and priority consideration when independent living residents require the services included in an assisted living setting.

There are many factors that contribute to one’s decision about what level of senior care is best. Mid Coast Senior Health Center and Thornton Oaks offer free assistance for individuals, families, and caregivers to help with evaluating which level of care is best. No matter which level of care you are looking for, the staff at both locations will help navigate health-care needs, costs, and opportunities to enhance the quality of life for each individual. Learn more at or

Carrie Pelletier, BSN, RN, is the program manager for marketing & admissions at Mid Coast Senior Health Center where she assists individuals with navigating assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and long-term care every day. Part of Mid Coast–Parkview Health, Mid Coast Senior Health Center works collaboratively with Mid Coast Hospital, Mid Coast Medical Group, and CHANS Home Health and Hospice to provide high quality specialized care and comprehensive healthcare services for seniors. Henry Recknagel is the director of sales for Thornton Oaks Retirement Community and has been working with individuals for more than a decade to ensure their happiness in retirement home ownership.