Even if you're not Catholic yourself, there's a good chance you may know someone who is. At roughly 22 percent of the U.S. population, Catholicism is the largest religious denomination in the country, with appproximately 77.4 million members as of 2017.1
Like most people of faith, practicing Catholics are committed to ongoing worship, prayer rituals, and abiding by their doctrine. This is especially true for Catholic seniors who decide to move into assisted living care. For seniors who want to continue following the mission of the church, as well as interacting with fellow congregants, the good news is that there are Catholic senior living options available across the country.
This article will discuss the importance of Catholic senior living centers, how they differ from traditional centers, costs, and general tips on finding the best one for you in your area. But first, we should define what Catholic senior care is.
What Is Catholic Senior Care?
For many older adults, religion is a focal point of their lives. It's so important, in fact, that it can be a deciding factor on which senior care center they choose. Faith-based senior care centers provide spiritual nourishment while allowing older adults to interact with others who share their faith. If you're a practicing Catholic senior, you no doubt want to seek out places that let you incorporate your beliefs and take part in activities and rituals that are central to your faith. Since the communities themselves are based on Catholic traditions and culture, seniors can continue to enjoy the spiritual benefits that such care can provide. Many times (but not always), these facilities are associated with local parishes. These centers may also provide access to a Catholic church, observe Catholic holidays, as well as offer participation in various spiritual services, such as daily prayers, Holy Mass, Holy Rosary and other religious activities.
While these communities offer many Catholic-based rituals, they're typically welcoming to people of all faiths, so you don't need to be Catholic to receive care.
Did You Know: The Catholic health ministry is the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation, with more than one in seven patients in the U.S. being cared for in a Catholic hospital.2
How Is Catholic Senior Living Different Than Traditional Senior Living?
While standard services and amenities are similar in both traditional and Catholic senior living facilities, when it comes to the former, faith is not an integral part of the programs and services offered. However, both may share some basic offerings, including nutritious meals, housekeeping, personal laundry assistance, fitness classes, and social activities. Overall, though, the intention of Catholic senior care is to ensure that the doctrines and mission of the Catholic church are incorporated every day. For example, some facilities offer Catholic-based newspapers that allow residents to keep up to date about what's going on in the church. Others may offer rosary groups, Bible study, or faith discussions. Other care amenities may include sacraments, such as Holy Communion, close proximity to a chapel and priest, confessional opportunities, and special allowances for dietary restrictions during certain religious seasons, such as Lent.
Did You Know: Seventy percent of seniors 70 and older pray on a daily basis. Among faith groups, 86 percent of Protestants say they pray every week, followed by 82 percent of Muslims, 79 percent of Catholics, and 44 percent of Jews.3
How Much Does Catholic Senior Housing Cost?
Generally speaking, there's no significant cost differences between faith-based senior living and traditional facilities. But no matter which type you choose, cost is usually a determining factor. And most often, it will be based on the type of facility, level of care, and type of room. For example, many adult day care centers cost less than half of assisted living facilities that require a deeper level of care.
Annual costs vary from state to state, so it's important to do your homework to learn what the costs are for Catholic senior housing in your area. Most seniors will rely on a combination of private savings and government funds, such as Social Security benefits, to pay for facility costs. While Medicare will provide coverage for certain health services for assisted living residents, it doesn't cover assisted living facility costs. Similarly, Medicaid can help cover some costs for assisted living, including memory care (such as Alzheimer's units), but it doesn't pay for room and board. Check your state regulations since services and coverage can vary widely. If you're a veteran, you may be eligible for benefits that can be applied toward costs as well.
As mentioned, costs for Catholic senior living centers are similar to those of non-faith-based centers. Average monthly costs can range from nearly $1,700 for adult day care centers to $4,500 for assisted living, up to nearly $8,000 for a semiprivate room in a nursing home.4 Once you determine the average cost of senior care in your region, you'll have a good indication of how much you'll pay for a Catholic senior living. As mentioned, pricing, of course, may vary depending on your area, type of facility, and care.
Tips on Finding Catholic Senior Living Communities
If you're looking for a Catholic senior living community, there are a few ways to go about it. Most communities are sponsored or run by any one of a number of entities, including individual Catholic archdioceses and dioceses, charities, religious orders, Catholic community services, health systems, or Catholic nonprofit organizations.5 Start by contacting your local archdiocese, or a Catholic-run charity or nonprofit, such as Catholic Charities USA, for assistance. You can also talk to like-minded relatives and friends, as well as individuals and families within your parish church. They may have firsthand experience of helping a family member find Catholic senior care and could provide a recommendation.
Did You Know: Catholics are fairly evenly dispersed throughout the country, with 27 percent living in the South, 26 percent in the Northeast, 26 percent in the West, and 21 percent of U.S. Catholics living in the Midwest.6
If you prefer researching online, type in your browser “Catholic senior living,” along with your city, for a list of local resources. Or, if you find a senior living community in your area that is not specifically for Catholics, give them a call and ask if they offer any services or resources for Catholic residents. Even if you're not planning to move to a Catholic senior living facility soon, it's a good idea to start exploring your options now as demand for such services is high. Knowing all your care options will help you make a well-informed decision about what's right for you.
Where Can I Find Catholic Senior Living Communities?
Now that you have some tips to get started, we've compiled a list of a few Catholic senior living centers in the country to help you even further. Note that while this is only a small listing, it does include a variety of U.S. regions to acquaint you with the different types of Catholic senior care facilities and their offerings. And while you don't need to subscribe to the Catholic faith to enroll, for those who do, the spiritual support and camaraderie of like-minded peers will offer long-lasting benefits for both body and soul.
Little Sisters of the Poor – St. Martin's Home
Founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan, this international congregation of Roman Catholic women welcomes low-income seniors, providing medical care, a pastoral program, and other spiritual ministering. The summit of their ministry is to provide compassionate care and accompaniment of older adults.
St. Joseph Village of Chicago
Begun in 1894, their century-long mission of caring for others is based on the teachings of their foundress Mother Mary Theresa. They offer assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, rehabilitation services, and respite care.
St. Margaret Hall
This center fosters residents' physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being rooted in the Catholic faith. Services include assisted living, skilled nursing, hospice care, post-acute care, and short-term rehabilitation.
Kansas City, Missouri
St. Anthony's Senior Living
This gated, resort-style faith-based senior living community is open to those who are 62 years old “and better.” Sponsored by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, it offers a dedicated chapel, priests-in-residence, Daily Mass, optional nondenominational services, and memory care support.
Los Angeles, California
St. John of God Retirement and Care Center
Founded by the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, this center has serviced Southern California for over 70 years. Their skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation offers 24-hour personalized care and therapy for short- or long-term stays.
St. Anne's Residence
St. Anne's assisted living residence shares the building with its nursing center and supports residents with their daily living activities, weekly housekeeping services, fine dining, and recreational activities and Daily Mass.
The Community at Holy Family Manor
Originally founded in Rome in 1875 by the Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (also known as Frances Siedliska), this 502(c) (3) continues to follow the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. They provide a family-focused service approach, offering both senior care as well as child care.
Rochester, New York
St. Ann's Home
With over 1,200 employees, St. Ann's is considered the largest private employer in Rochester. They've provided a continuum of care for seniors since its service ministry began over 145 years ago by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Their service offerings range from independent living to 24-hour skilled nursing.
Mercy McMahon Terrace Senior Living
Located in California's state capital, this faith-based residential community offers independent and assisted living, memory care, group exercises, and other social activities, such as picnics in the park. Of course, the heart of their service is spiritual support, which includes a staff chaplain and weekly Mass.
San Antonio, Texas
The Village at Incarnate Word
For more than a century in San Antonio, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word's Motherhouse Convent had lived only among themselves. That all changed in 1988 after their convent and surrounding grounds were restructured, and they opened their “home” to both religious and lay people. The Village now comprises a retirement community, independent and assisted living, a bistro, and a wellness center and offers residents four chapels of prayer.