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7 Senior Housing Options: Which One Works Best?

How to make sense of today’s senior housing options

When it’s time to make a change in your older adult’s living situation, choosing from the available senior housing options might feel overwhelming. 

Options range from aging in place at home to full-time care in a nursing home. 

Looking at the basics helps you narrow the list to a couple of options to investigate further. That way, you won’t have an overwhelming number of places to consider.

First, think about how much help your older adult needs each day. Next, think about what they’re able to afford.

Then, use this overview of the 7 most common senior housing options to help you focus on the types of housing that will most likely suit their care needs and budget.

We explain what each type of housing is, who would benefit from it, how it works, and the relative cost.

From our partner

1. Aging in place

  1. What is it? When an older adult lives in their own home or with family.

  2. Who it’s good for? If your older adult is still relatively independent or can get the level of help they need, staying at home may be a good option.

  3. How it works? In-home caregivers, cleaning, meal delivery, and other services can help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Simple home repairs or modifications can make homes safer, such as installing a wheelchair ramp, bathroom grab bars, or a medical alert system.

  4. Relative cost? Low to medium, but can require more help from family and friends.

2. The Village concept

  1. What is it? This model links neighbors and local businesses together to help seniors stay in their homes as they grow older.

  2. Who it’s good for? Older adults who want help similar to what they would get at a retirement community, but don’t want to leave their homes.

  3. How it works? Villages usually don’t provide services directly, but act as a liaison or concierge service. Actual help comes from other able-bodied village members, younger neighbors, or youth groups doing community service.

  4. Relative cost? Low. Members of a village pay an annual fee (average is about $600) in return for services such as transportation, yard work, and bookkeeping.

  5. More info: Find out how a Village works.

3. Independent living

  1. What is it? Any housing designed exclusively for seniors, usually including retirement communities, retirement homes, senior housing, and senior apartments.

  2. Who it’s good for? Older adults who want to live in an active community setting, free from worries about daily chores like house maintenance, cooking, or housekeeping.

  3. How it works? They’re a little like mini-college campuses, where people of similar age live together in a community that provides opportunities for socialization. In general, the housing is more compact, easier to navigate, and includes help with outdoor maintenance.

  4. Relative cost? Medium to high. Depending on location and services, costs can range from $1,500 to $10,000 per month.

4. Residential care home

  1. What is it? Small facilities that offer personalized service to small groups of adults. They’re also known as adult family homes, board and care homes, or personal care homes.

  2. Who it’s good for? Someone who needs more individual, home-setting care.

  3. How it works? They provide lodging, meal services and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).

  4. Relative cost? Medium. They can often be half the cost of nursing homes and, in some states, are more affordable than assisted living care.

  5. More info: Get more info about types of care provided, average costs, and who might like this type of setting.

From our partner

5. Continuing care retirement community (CCRC)

  1. What is it? These communities are part independent living, part assisted living, and part skilled nursing facility.

  2. Who it’s good for? Older adults who want to live in one location for the rest of their life and don’t want to worry about arranging for future care needs. They’re also good for spouses who want to stay close to one another even if one requires a higher level of care.

  3. How it works? Residents can start out living in the independent living section and move to different parts of the same community as they need increasing levels of care.

  4. Relative cost? High. CCRCs are the most expensive of all long-term-care options. There’s a significant entrance fee as well as monthly fees that increase as higher levels of care are needed.

6. Assisted living community

  1. What is it? An assisted living community typically consists of small apartments in a care community. There’s a wide range of services across different care communities.

  2. Who it’s good for? Older adults who can live somewhat independently, but require some assistance. Some communities do offer higher levels of care.

  3. How it works? Typical services include staff available 24 hours a day, meals, medication management, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and transportation. Most facilities have a group dining area and common areas for social and recreational activities.

  4. Relative cost? High. Costs vary according to the level of daily help required and the type of living space.

  5. More info: A social worker shares advice on how to decide if a move is necessary; understand the “fine print” details before signing any contracts.

7. Nursing home / skilled nursing facility

  1. What is it? This option is for older adults who need 24-hour supervised care with meals, activities, and health management.

  2. Who it’s good for? Older adults with severe or debilitating physical or mental illnesses who are unable to care for themselves.

  3. How it works? A licensed physician supervises each resident’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on premises. Some facilities have physical and occupational therapists on staff. Others have special services for Alzheimer’s or dementia memory care.

  4. Relative cost? High. Costs vary according to the level of daily help required and the type of living space.

  5. More info: If problems come up in the nursing facility, the local ombudsman is on your side.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


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