What's the difference between retirement and assisted living? I'd love to have a dollar for every time a Boomer asks that question regarding his or her aging parent. See if your parent fits into one of the following.
1. Does he or she need meals, housekeeping, transportation to doctor's, grocery stores, etc., and activities but is pretty independent otherwise? If you answer yes to several of these, a RETIREMENT COMMUNITY is probably a good fit. In this type of living situation, your mother or father receives lots of support--physical and emotional, but no personal care from the retirement community staff.
2. Does your parent need all of the above plus help with bathing, dressing and/or medication setup? If his or her personal care needs can be scheduled--showers on Tuesday and Thursday, for example, one option is to hire a HOME CARE agency to come into the retirement community. Often, but not always, this is cheaper than moving to an assisted living community.
3. Another option for personal care is moving to ASSISTED LIVING. This offers all the benefits of a retirement community, plus on-site staff. They can help with a wider range of needs, many of which can't be scheduled. Some examples: cuing and reminding for someone with dementia, incontinence care, and medication assistance. Assisted living communities differ widely on the scope of care they can provide. So ask lots of questions if you go that route.
For years I've described retirement community residents this way: they paddle their own canoe. Sometimes they get tired and need help from children to stay independent, but generally they know how to move forward. Assisted living residents need life jackets and others to paddle (figuratively) due to cognitive, emotional and/or physical needs. General statements like these don't always hold water, but hopefully you get what I mean.