How to Choose the Best Senior Housing Option

Are you confused by all the different senior housing options available? Whether you’re looking for one for yourself or a loved one, this senior living guide will help you the best choices. Keep reading.
How to Choose the Best Senior Housing Option

Last update: 07 June, 2021

Are you looking for a senior housing option for yourself or for a loved one? Are you confused by all the different options available? Today, we’ll be assessing your senior citizen housing options. Aging is a time of adaptation and change. Therefore, planning your future housing needs is an important part of ensuring you keep thriving as you get older. Is your search for senior housing prompted by a serious medical condition?

Is your search for senior homes thanks to the desire for a lifestyle change? It’s stressful and challenging for both you and your family to find the right place to live. However, the earlier you assess your current needs and their evolution over time, the more choices and control you’ll have. Of course, every older adult is different. Hence, the senior housing choice that’s right for one person may not be suitable for you.

What’s the key to making the best choice? In fact, the idea is to match your housing with your lifestyle, health, and financial needs. This may mean modifying your own home to make it safer and more comfortable. Likewise, this could mean moving to a housing facility with more support and social options available on site. It could even involve enrolling in a network of like-minded people to share specialized services.

Similarly, even moving to a nursing home or a retirement community. Did you know that a retirement community is an apartment building where most tenants are over the age of 65? By learning about the different types of senior housing available, you’ll make the choice that’s right for you. Most importantly, you’ll ensure you enjoy a happy, healthy, and fulfilling home environment as you age.

Senior housing and the different terms per region

The names of the different types of senior living facilities and housing options can sometimes be confusing. Believe it or not, the terminology can vary from region to region. For example, the term “assisted living” means something in one state or country and something slightly different elsewhere. However, in general, the different types of senior housing vary according to the amount of support.

They offer different levels of support for the activities of daily living and medical care. Are you ready to research a senior housing option? Make sure it covers your required level of care and that you understand exactly what facilities are offered and how much they’ll cost.

Independent living or continuing care retirement communities are senior housing facilities including different options in one location. For example, independent living assisted living and nursing home care. This enables older adults to stay in the same general area as their housing needs change over time. Keep in mind that all these senior living options come with a buying cost and monthly fees.

An image of senior citizen wearing eyeglasses.

1. Senior housing option and aging in place 

It’s highly advantageous to stay in your own home as you age. In other words, keeping you in a familiar place where you know your neighbors and the community. You can take advantage of home care services and make home repairs or modifications. This way, you’ll make your life much easier and safer. Aging in place may be a good option if:

  • Firstly, you have a close network of nearby family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Secondly, transportation is easily accessible, including alternate transportation to driving.
  • Thirdly, your neighborhood is safe.
  • Your home can be modified to reflect your changing needs.
  • Home and yard maintenance isn’t overwhelming.
  • Your physical and medical needs don’t require a high level of care.
  • Lastly, you fall within the geographical confines of an integrated community, such as a “village” or NORC.

2. The village concept of senior housing

Firstly, a “village” is also known as NORC (naturally occurring retirement community). This brilliant model links neighbors and local businesses together. In fact, they help each other stay in their homes as they grow older. Homes can range from a single age-integrated apartment building to a housing complex. Additionally, even a wider community of one- or two-family homes.

Members of the “village” can access specialized programs and services. These may include transportation to the grocery store, home health care, or help with household chores. In addition to a network of planned social activities with other village members. This senior living is a great option for:

  • Older adults who want help similar to what they would get at a retirement community.
  • Senior citizens who don’t want to leave their homes.

3. Independent living community

Independent living is simply any housing arrangement designed exclusively for older adults. For instance, those aged 55 and over. Housing varies widely from apartment-style living to freestanding homes. In general, the housing is friendlier to seniors, often being more compact, with easier navigation. Additionally, no maintenance or yard work to worry about.

While residents live independently, most communities offer amenities, activities, and services. In fact, independent living facilities aimed at older adults needing little or no assistance with daily living activities. Hence, most don’t offer medical care or nursing staff. As with regular housing, though, you can hire in-home help separately as required. Independent living may be your best choice if:

  • You see needing only minor assistance with daily living activities.
  • You’d like a place that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and upkeep.
  • The idea of socializing with peers and having activity options nearby intrigues you.

4. Assisted living facilities

Assisted living is a residential option for seniors who want or need help with some daily living activities. For example, cooking meals and getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Keeping house and traveling to appointments. Assisted living facilities offer the safety and security of 24-hour support and access to care. 

Day or night help is only a phone call away. Nonetheless, privacy and independence are encouraged. A good facility will develop a personalized plan that meets your needs and accommodates your disabilities. Still, it also gives you the freedom to do what you can for yourself. An assisted living facility may be a good choice if you:

  • Need more personal care services than those feasible at home.  
  • Need an independent living retirement community.
  • You don’t need the round-the-clock medical care and supervision of a nursing home.

5. Nursing homes

Nursing homes provide what you know as called custodial care. For instance, getting in and out of bed and providing assistance with feeding, bathing, and dressing. Nevertheless, nursing homes differ from other senior housing facilities. They also provide a high level of medical care. 

A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care. Similarly, a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. A nursing home may be a good choice if:

  • Both your medical and personal care needs are too great to handle at home or in another facility. 
  • This may be due to a recent hospitalization or a chronic illness that has gradually been worsening.
  • You need a higher level of care temporarily after a hospitalization.
  • It’s anticipated that you’ll be able to return to home or another facility after a period of time.

6. Continuing care retirement community (CCRC)

These communities are part independent living, part assisted living, and part skilled nursing facility. In other words, residents can start out living in the independent living section. Then, they move to different parts of the same community, as they need increased levels of care. 

As we mentioned above, CCRCs are senior facilities including independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care in one location. Thus, letting older adults stay in the same general area as their housing needs change over time. CCRCs normally come with a cost for buying a unit in the community, as well as monthly fees CCRCs are a great option for:

  • Older adults who want to live in one location for the rest of their life.
  • Seniors who don’t want to worry about arranging for future care needs. 
  • Spouses who want to stay close to one another even if one requires a higher level of care.

7. Residential care home

Did you know that residential care homes are small facilities that offer personalized services to small groups of adults? In fact, they’re also known as adult family homes, board care homes, or personal care homes. Residential care homes are typically located in the middle of regular residential. 

They were usually private homes that were converted and staffed for small group living. Most importantly, they provide different services for the elderly in the community. For example, lodging, meal services, and assistance with activities of daily living. This type of housing is perfect for: 

  • Senior citizens who need more individual, home-setting care.

Choosing the best senior housing option for you

Ready to decide the senior housing plan that’s right for you? It’s important to consider not only the needs you have now. Most importantly, those you’ll have in the future. What are your senior citizen housing needs?

  • Physical and medical needs. As you age, you may need some help with physical needs, including daily living activities. For instance, shopping, cleaning, cooking, and looking after pets. Similarly, intensive help with bathing, moving around, and eating. You or a loved one may also need increasing help with medical needs. These arise from a sudden injury or illness, including a heart attack, stroke, or a gradual condition like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Location and accessibility. Even if you’re completely independent at this time, circumstances can change. It pays to think a little about the accessibility of your current location and home. For example, how far is your home from shopping, medical facilities, or other services? If you can no longer drive, what kind of transportation access will you have? Can your home be easily modified? Does it have a lot of steps or a steep hill to navigate?
  • Home maintenance. Unfortunately, for senior citizens living alone now, the homes where they live can be a major issue. It may surely become too difficult or too expensive to maintain. You may have health problems that make it much harder to manage tasks. For instance, housework and yard maintenance that you once took for granted. 
An image of senior citizens in a nursing home.

Consider your social, emotional, and financial needs

As we mentioned above, it’s vital for senior citizens to consider their needs. Are you a senior citizen? Check this out:

  • Social and emotional needs. Surely, as you age, your social networks can change. Friends or family may not be as close by or neighbors can move or pass on. You may no longer be able to continue driving while losing access to public transportation.

In fact, this would prevent you from regularly meeting up with family and friends. Perhaps, you simply want to expose yourself to more social opportunities and avoid different things. For example, becoming isolated and housebound.

  • Financial needs. Modifying your home or securing long-term care can both be incredibly expensive. Therefore, balancing the care you need with where you want to live requires careful evaluation of your budget. Consider making a budget with anticipated expenses. This way, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons of your situation.

To sum it up, with so many options available, it’s easy to feel confused by the variety of care types of senior housing options. Besides, the range of styles of senior living communities available today can utterly overwhelm you.

We hope you liked learning the terminology, features, and benefits of memory care, independent living, and assisted living. Most importantly, home care, residential care homes, nursing homes, and senior apartments. This way, you’ll make the right choice.

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