Most areas have tons of senior housing choices. And, if you live in an especially large city, that might feel a little overwhelming. Hey, it’s great that there’s so much to choose from. After all, a home or care facility isn’t really a “one-size-fits-all” type of thing – you need options! So, wait…how do you choose? Is there a simple way to know what’s best? And – where should you even start? Whether you’re retiring, looking to downsize, or in need of long-term care, you’re in luck – because finding senior housing can be made easy by following a few simple steps.
1 – Know Your Choices
When it comes to senior housing, there are a lot of terms to know. Sometimes, names and categories are used interchangeably; so it can get a little confusing. The best thing to do is just know what’s out there, and what people are calling it all.
Senior Housing Categories
Assisted Living – These facilities are for aging adults who can live on their own, but might need help with activities of daily living (ADL). Also, they may need moderate medical care. Assisted living can look like apartments or individual units within a larger facility.
AKA: independent living, active adult communities, retirement communities
Retirement Community – These are gated developments or large facilities. They’re often age-restricted to 55 and older for added comfort and security. Seniors living here don’t need medical or personal care.
AKA: independent living, active adult communities, assisted living, 55+ community, congregate housing, senior apartments
Nursing Home – A nursing home is for seniors who do not need a hospital but require a higher level of care or medical attention. Residents will usually need a little more than can be provided at their home or in assisted living.
AKA: skilled nursing homes, retirement homes, nursing facilities, care home
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) – An SNF is a residential establishment for short-term medically necessary services. Patients often stay here for rehabilitation after surgery or illness.
AKA: skilled nursing home, care home, nursing facilities
Manufactured/Modular Communities – Prefabricated homes, set in developments. Many are age-restricted to 55 and older residents
AKA: mobile home parks, modular home parks, retirement communities
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – A CCRC combines traditional retirement living with the services of assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
AKA: active adult community, independent living, life plan community
Senior Apartments – Apartments that are built and maintained to be senior-friendly and accessible. Complexes are usually age-restricted.
AKA: active adult community, independent living, assisted living, retirement community
Active Adult Community – Active adult communities usually feature resort-style amenities and convenient services for adults 55 and older. Houses, condos, townhouses, and apartments are common living spaces.
AKA: assisted living, retirement community
Independent Living Community – Usually apartments or individual units that are designed for seniors who do not need regular medical or personal care.
AKA: assisted living, retirement community
2 – Determine Must-Haves
What types of services are important to you? Do you need medical or personal care? Maybe you just want a pool to swim in or a gym so you can exercise? Most senior housing options will offer a wide variety of features. So – decide which features you want!
Start by making a list of needs and wants; medical necessities, personal care assistance, and amenities are all important! When you’re viewing homes and touring facilities, keep your list on hand. You’ll want to ask about extra costs or maybe how often certain services are offered.
3 – Plan For Payment
How much you pay will greatly depend on where you’re moving. And, yes, some options will be cheaper than others. But, regardless of the price, do you know how you’ll pay?
If you’re looking into places like retirement communities or new modular homes, then chances are you have some sort of financial plan already going on. Maybe you have a retirement fund. Or, maybe you’re financing. But, what if the home you’re considering is one you might never have thought about? You know, way back when you started a savings account?
Places like nursing homes or CCRCs can get pretty expensive. So – you should know your payment options. Have savings? Great.
If you don’t, then here are a few alternatives to look into:
- Long-term care insurance
- Reverse Mortgage
- VA benefits
Don’t forget: Medicare does not pay for long-term care!
4 – Take The Tours & Ask The Questions
Now that you’ve done your research – take some tours!
Visit as many places as you want! And, bring a family member along. It’s always a great idea to have some extra support because they can help ask questions. Also, as an added bonus, it’ll help them feel confident about your move too! Remember to bring that list of needs and wants; they’ll come in handy as you check out each place.
5 – Choose Your Home
Obviously, this is the best part, right? After you’ve taken the tours, asked the questions, and decided on how to pay, you finally get to make your decision.
When choosing the best senior housing option for your needs, weigh it all – the good, the bad, and what’s most important. Always have a family member by your side. Consult with a financial advisor when necessary. And – don’t forget, it’s your life! Make the choice that you feel is best for you!
When You’re Ready To Choose Senior Housing…
Ready to go shopping? Check out these great resources for more senior living info!