Feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of senior housing out there? Confused about the difference between skilled nursing and nursing homes? Not sure whether to age in place or move into a retirement community for active adults? Whether you’re retired or planning ahead for a loved one; when it’s time to make a change, our ultimate list can help you understand your choices. From assisted living to continuing care communities, we’ve researched the ins and outs of all the different senior living options, so you don’t have to waste another precious second cruising the web for answers. So, sit back, relax, and read on to learn more about your senior housing options!
Over 800,000 Americans reside in assisted living facilities (according to the National Center for Assisted Living). Assisted living is for aging adults who can live on their own, but might need help with activities of daily living (ADL) or moderate medical care. Living spaces range from apartments to individual units within a larger facility. Many of these facilities feature personal care assistants. From daily housekeeping to scheduled transportation to a calendar bursting with fun activities, there’s no limit to the great services and amenities!
If you consistently need help with ADLs such as bathing, toileting, or dressing, then assisted living might be right for you. Other determining factors include:
If you’re ready to learn more about how your independence can be supported, start by visiting our assisted living homepage!
According to a study done by AARP, nearly 90% of seniors wants to stay in their homes as they age. Aging in place is the ability to live comfortably and safely in the residence of your choosing. It’s basically deciding to stay in your own home as you grow older. This may include in-home care or other supports that help maintain your quality of life. In order to safely age in place, seniors should have a game plan. This should be updated over time as health needs and situations change.
Can you perform most daily tasks independently? Do you have access to outside support if needed? Then get cozy, because aging in place might be the perfect option for you. Other determining factors include:
Aging in place is a comfortable and healthy way to spend your retirement years. As needs change, stay prepared by modifying your home with some senior-friendly updates (like swapping slippery surfaces for carpet). If you’re ready to learn more about aging in place, then click here!
Statistics report that over 7 million adults aged 65 or older are living at, or below, the official poverty level. The good news is, there’s help! Affordable senior housing is defined as homes that are offered to low-income seniors for discounted or subsidized rates. These can include HUD-subsidized communities, rural development communities, and low-income housing tax credit communities.
Are you over the age of 62 and living on a fixed income? Is that fixed income considerably low? Then, don’t worry; you’ve got some affordable options. HUD, in particular, offers many senior-specific programs that can help such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program and Section 202 Housing. HUD can help with the purchase or rental of houses, apartments, condos, or even non-profit public housing.
Memory care is specialized care that is offered within assisted living, nursing homes, or other retirement communities. A facility that offers this type of care will typically have lower staff to resident ratios, 24-hour supervision, and enhanced security measures. Staff members have specialized training to provide the best possible care for patients with dementia or other memory disorders.
Look for a type of residential community that offers memory care if any of the following apply to you:
If declining mental or cognitive health is a factor in where you will choose senior housing, then be sure to ask any potential residences about how they provide memory care. Ready to learn more? Then, let’s talk some more about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Also known as “intentional neighborhoods,” this type of living is built on residential participation, companionship, inclusion, and trust. Cohousing communities are usually made up of clusters of homes or condos.
Cohousing is for seniors who want to mesh aging in place with community living. Don’t want to give up your privacy, but also don’t want to be alone? Then this might just be what you’re looking for! Residents embrace community involvement as a lifestyle. Some of the benefits of cohousing include:
Want to know more about cohousing for seniors? Start here!
A prefabricated home is built off-site, in a factory, and then transported to its permanent location. 55+ manufactured or modular communities give seniors an affordable, community-based lifestyle. These neighborhoods usually operate in the same manner as a traditional retirement community, where there may be a homeowner’s association and amenities. Some of these amenities may include:
If you want to downsize or stretch your retirement income, a prefab home can help you do it. Want to pair your savings with community living? Then, start learning more!
Senior apartments are built with aging adults in mind and are constructed to be both accommodating and practical.
Apartments are often found within assisted living, active adult, or other types of retirement communities. So – to choose the right apartment, you’ll first have to assess needs, wants, health, and income. This is not a one-size-fits-all type of category.
With that said, apartment living could be a great option if you’re mostly independent, don’t want to do yard work, and also love the idea of being close to your neighbors. Many senior apartments feature complimentary transportation and home maintenance. And, as an added bonus, there are usually plenty of planned social opportunities.
Still not sure? Our article, “The Cost of Senior Apartments, Explained: Affordable, Market Rate, & Luxury” can help iron out some of the details!
Shared housing is when two or more people share a living space for mutual benefit. Yep – it basically means you’re getting a roommate!
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 28% of adults aged 65 or older live alone. Older adults who live alone are at an increased risk for isolation or even memory disorders, such as dementia. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution—shared housing. There are tons of benefits to having a roommate. You can share expenses, household cleaning, and cooking. You can even run errands for one another. Many seniors choose to share a home with a younger adult, swapping free rent for some assistance with ADLs or driving. All of these are awesome. But, the greatest benefit? Shared housing provides companionship!
If you’re ready to learn how shared housing can combat feelings of isolation or loneliness, then click here to read more.
A nursing home is a living option for seniors who do not need a hospital but require a higher level of care or medical attention than can be provided at home or in assisted living. Many nursing homes boast specialized services, such as memory care units. Oftentimes, private rooms are also available.
If you need full-time medical or personal care, then a nursing home could be right for you. Other determining factors include:
Nursing homes usually amenities and services, as well as the ability to stay as independent as possible. Learn more about nursing care, here.
A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a residential establishment for short-term medically necessary services. SNFs provide care to their residents for various needs, usually post-hospitalization. Facilities provide custodial care such as bathing, dressing, and help eating, as well as skilled nursing.
You might need an SNF if:
Nursing homes and SNFs are often confused with one another. Be sure to thoroughly research your residential nursing facility options near you.
Active adult communities usually feature resort-style amenities and convenient services for adults 55 and older.
If you want to spend your retirement having fun, relaxing, and socializing, this is the type of place to do it. Houses, condos, townhouses, and apartments are common living spaces. And, amenities? Here are just a few some communities offer:
To learn more about active adult communities, check out our article on active adult versus independent living!
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), also known as life plan communities, have the unique quality of combining traditional retirement living with the services of assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. CCRCs help retirees plan for the possibility of future medical conditions or needs while also providing amenities, social opportunities, and leisure time.
If you want to enjoy a leisurely retirement, but have medical or personal care needs, then check out a CCRC. In addition to offering a huge variety of social activities, amenities, and outings, these places will also cater to your ever-changing needs as you age.
Not sold? Then, read more about continuing care retirement communities.
Let’s just face a simple fact: senior housing costs are going to vary big time depending on what you choose, where you choose it, and how your bill is structured. So, let’s talk basics to get you going.
Entry fees are very common in retirement communities. These upfront costs cover amenities, services, or care that are offered. They can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 in a community. But, it’s definitely worth noting that CCRCs usually have entry fees that cost upwards of $300,000 (because you’re paying for all medical care you might need in the future).
A monthly fee in the low thousands can be expected. Nursing homes or SNFs may charge you monthly room and board, while an active adult community will charge service fees. No matter what they call it, you can almost always expect some sort of monthly bill. Also worth noting here: some senior housing that offers all the extras will bill you “a la carte,” which is just a fancy way of saying “pay per service.”
Do senior housing and insurance really have anything to do with one another? Well, yes, actually. Did you know that Medicare will not pay for long-term care? That means it won’t pay for you to stay in places like nursing homes or independent living, even if they offer services you’d usually think of as being on the health care spectrum. Now, long-term care insurance? That’s something worth looking into a little further! Long-term care insurance can be used for nursing homes, retirement communities, and many other living options.
How do you know when it’s time to make a change?
It doesn’t have to be hard! Think about your wants. Your needs. How’s your retirement money looking? How about your spouse? Do they have savings? Consider your health. Consider how much fun you want to have and where you want to spend your time. Remember to talk with a family member and get as much help in the decision-making process as you want!
Ready to make a change? Then check out these resources for more info:
Section 8, the Housing Choice Voucher Program
Originally published October 17, 2023