Staying at Home

Aging in Place

Not moving, or successfully Aging In Place (or Staying at Home) takes a lot of planning. Consider the points we've included on our Aging in Place page.

Reasons to Move

Reasons to move are varied and sometimes hard to identify:

  • The neighborhood has deteriorated, safety is a concern.
  • To be near children (70% of those 65+ live within 1 hour of a child).
  • To match home's facilities to senior's faculties.
  • To avoid stairs in a home.
  • Home is too large or costly to maintain.
  • Home may not meet present needs, physical or other.
  • Assets are tied up in the home and cash is needed.
  • Don't drive and available transportation is not adequate.
  • Retired and looking for new lifestyle.

Active seniors, seen as move-down buyers may be moving down, not in size, but in their home maintenance. Since 1960 the trend has been to move from cities to rural or suburban settings with a warmer climate and recreational opportunities (Choi, Journal of Applied Gerontology, 1996).

Recently we see more active senior communities, apartments, and complexes for the elderly, offering medical care components, "infilling" in older neighborhoods. Opportunities to move to nearby metro or suburban-located senior communities provide the chance to right-size a lifestyle without giving up proximity to friends and the familiar.

As seniors remain in their homes until they are in their late 70's or 80's, when they do relocate, they want to stay close to their home of many years. Long distance moves occur when seniors want to be closer to adult children, siblings, or other close relatives, or go back to where they grew up or once lived.

Relocating seniors find satisfaction in their new location if they have common interests with other residents or neighbors and can have friendly, helpful people around them.

Thus, Adult Day Care may be a lower cost way of allowing those that require chronic care to stay at home and in their community.

Relocating Options

Aging in Place

Adult Retirement Communities

A senior community can be like any other neighborhood or community except that it is restricted to people usually 55 or over, or 62 and over. Differences in minimum age are typically established when the original community entitlement and funding is obtained. Those with a 55+ restriction require one resident to be 55+. Other residents must be over 18 but are permitted to be younger than 55. In a 62+ community, all residents must meet the age requirement. HUD regulations used to require amenities, activities, and services that cater to seniors to be provided or available. Although no longer required by law, to be competitive and attractive to a retirement lifestyle, age-restricted communities are continuing to offer these features and to upgrade them as the competition demands.

Retirement Communities are oriented toward an active lifestyle, or "younger thinking" seniors. They might offer golf, tennis, swimming pool and spa, exercise rooms and a variety of clubs and interest groups.

Read more about Adult Retirement Communities

"Seniors Only" Apartments

Some older seniors sell their homes of many years and move to an apartment. This frees up equity that can then supplement income through interest or dividends earned through investment of the capital. The move also frees seniors from home maintenance and grounds-keeper chores. For others living in a large complex of all seniors also affords a greater sense of security than living in a private home.

Read more about Senior Apartments

Modular Homes and Housing Parks

"Modular Homes Communities," or "Manufactured housing" refers to housing that is already on-site and ready to move into. "Manufactured housing parks" tend to serve low- to moderate-income households. They have common areas that can be used to provide services and activities, such as pools and clubhouses. Some are subsidized by HUD, and these HUD-subsidized projects for the aging are somewhat further along in addressing aging-in-place issues. Housing prices are much lower than the average, and the parks charge low monthly or annual rents for living there. Housing park owners with more than one housing park are better positioned to help improve the extent and quality of home- and community-based services, including health care services, because of the large number of sites they control and the network that exists among such owners

Often, parks are built relatively close to large medical facilities so that residents may take advantage of comprehensive medical services. They are generally located in moderate and warm climates and tend to be in more suburban than urban areas. More than three million seniors already live in manufactured housing, which is the most affordable form of homeownership available. It offers the opportunity to bring services to the residents, both because there is a "critical mass" of seniors living in manufactured housing parks, and because in many cases the home is movable and could be relocated in a park providing assisted living services.

Read more about Modular Home Communities

ECHO Housing (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity)

Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity, Accessory Units, Granny Flats refer to a housing opportunity where seniors occupy a second family living unit or apartment with a separate entrance, on a single family lot, with another family. Generally, they are permitted by the jurisdiction to foster affordable housing or aid families with elderly parents unable to live completely alone. The owner of the home and lot may be a senior, or the "renting" party may be seniors.

Read more about ECHO Housing

Shared Housing

Seniors can share their home or share the home of another. The roommate need not also be a senior. Professional organizations which specialize in these arrangements match the two parties based on needs on one side with abilities to provide on the other side. They screen before matching and follow up afterward to help the match work out. Most organizations that do this are non-profit and supported by sources other than those seeking their help.

Seniors who share their home, are Aging in Place and should understand the planning that will help to do it successfully.

Read more about Shared Housing

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) or communities offering Life Care are designed to provide active seniors an independent lifestyle and a private home from which to enjoy it, regardless of future medical needs. They may require a buy-in or an up-front annuity purchase followed by monthly payments covering services, amenities, and needed medical. The buy-in may be refundable in part, or not at all.

They provide the availability of multiple levels of care, without the uncertainty of wondering where you will live.

Read more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Congregate Housing

Congregate communities offer independent living in separate private apartments, and the opportunity to share activities of daily living with other residents as one chooses. They may offer rental or ownership units.

Read more about Congregate Housing

Assisted Living

Assisted living is often viewed as the best of both worlds. Residents have as much independence as they want with the knowledge that personal care and support services are available if they need them. Assisted living communities are designed to provide residents with assistance with basic ADLs (activities of daily living) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and more. Some states also allow assisted living to offer medication assistance and reminders.

Assisted living communities differ from nursing homes in that they don’t offer complex medical services. Assisted living communities range from a stand-alone residence to being one level of care in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community).

The physical environment of an assisted living is often more appealing to both potential residents and their families. These communities offer a more home-like atmosphere with apartment styles that typically include studio and one-bedroom models. Kitchenettes usually feature a small refrigerator and microwave.

Read more about Assisted Living

Board and Care / Residential Care / Foster Care

"Board and Care" is usually offered in what may appear as a converted home. It provides a homelike setting with supervision and care for 4-10 residents (Foster care, available in some states, is limited to 2 residents).

Read more about Board and Care

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled Nursing Facilities may be freestanding, or part of a seniors community offering any or all of the following:

  • Congregate
  • Assisted Living
  • Continuum of Care
It may specialize in Short Term or acute nursing care, intermediate or long term skilled nursing care.

Read more about Skilled Nursing Facilities

Alzheimer's Facilities & Help

Alzheimer's patients may be accommodated in a Congregate or Independent wing of a multi-level campus. Many Assisted Living Communities will accept and successfully house early-stage residents. As the disease progresses, patients may develop argumentative behavior, "sundowning," and wandering habits. Generally, the communities best equipped to deal effectively with this middle stage patient are Alzheimer Communities.

Read more about Alzheimer's Facilities & Help

Affinity Communities

A relatively new concept in senior assisted-living is the “affinity community.” Like other assisted-living communities, affinity communities provide private living accommodations and essentially function as continuing-care communities. However, they are organized around sub-groups of the aging. “Affinity communities” may consist of retired military service members and/or their spouses (i.e., Air Force ViIlage in San Antonio TX, Air Force Village West, in Riverside CA); education-based communities (such as The Forest at Duke, in Durham NC, and The Village at Penn State); or LGBT communities, spread particularly throughout the Western United States.

Some more-specialized affinity communities exist. These include the well-known Motion Picture & Television County House and Hospital in Woodland Hills CA, the Firefighters Home in upstate New York, and the National Association of Letter Carriers, near Tampa, FL. Asians have built an affinity community in Northern California, and American Indians in Montana. Although not many sizeable affinity communities exist, this specialized niche assisted-living arrangement is predicted to expand significantly.

Adult Day Care

Senior/Adult Day Care varies from "custodial care" with programs for stimulation and rehabilitation to daycare providing medical care and procedures.

Read more about Adult Day Care

Senior Short Term Housing

Senior Short Term Housing (Vacations and Snowbirding) offers the chance to try before you buy. It allows one to take advantage of a senior community in a distant location. People too frail for the rigors of hotels and restaurants for multiple days can vacation at a slower pace with needed care available to them.

Read more about Senior Short Term Housing

Cost Comparisons: Alternative Options vs. Aging In Your Home

Compare your home's costs against what a Senior Congregate, Assisted Living, or Continuing Care Retirement Community offers in the way of convenience and services by using a table like the one below. Put the cost of each of the items in the column for "Aging in Your Home" and the column for the alternative living choice, i.e., "Assisted Living." Then total each column and compare costs. Assisted or group retirement living may not be much more expensive than staying where you are. Or, perhaps you will find it's more expensive.

Item Aging In Your Home Alternative (ie. Assisted Living)
Mortgage and Association Fees $ $
Taxes $ $
Maintenance of outside, gardening $ $
Repairs $ $
Fire, theft and liability Insurance $ $
Electricity and gas $ $
Water, sewer and trash pickup $ $
Telephone and cable $ $
Meals $ $
Transportation $ $
Car ownership (ownership, maintenance, repairs, insurance) $ $
Insurance $ $
Housekeeping (Laundry, Linen service, Cleaning) $ $
Camaraderie with privacy $ $
Supplemental Medicare Insurance $ $
Long Term Care Insurance $ $
Other $ $

After you have a handle on cost differences, look at social, stress, and medical advantages or disadvantages. Only then are you ready to visit places that are alternative possibilities.

Other Considerations

Reverse Mortgage

Reverse Mortgage

A Reverse Mortgage program enables older homeowners to free up a portion of the equity in their home and convert it into cash to put toward medical or other needs. Thus, remaining in their home for as long as they want. We have a couple of informative articles detailing the program benefits and commonly asked questions about reverse mortgage finance and general reverse mortgage information.

There are also reverse mortgage programs that can be very beneficial to homeowners who have higher home values. To read more about it, do some research on "jumbo reverse mortgage" programs.

For additional financial information, see our senior finance page.

Safe Drinking Water

Safe Drinking Water

Water is the lifeblood of every community and an integral part of our lives. It does more than quench our thirst; it also enables us to stay clean, grow food, fight fires, and manufacture products. Obviously, the water must be safe for use. How do you know your water is safe?

The Safe Drinking Water Act, passed by Congress in 1974, authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to set national standards for drinking water quality based on science that weighs potential health risks, available technology, and costs. USEPA requires large water districts to submit a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) yearly. The report outlines the compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and identifies the amount of various contaminants found in the water. By reviewing this data, you may determine the quality of the water you are drinking. Water Quality Plus has gathered this data in one place on the web. Visit www.waterqualityplus.com to see how well your water meets national standards