In the old days, older adults who needed care usually moved in with adult children, or to what was then called a “rest home.” But today, senior living communities provide a wide variety of senior housing and support options. How do you sort through the maze of choices and make the best decision?
“Is it time to move?” Most older adults ask themselves this question many times before they make the final decision. If you or a senior loved one is looking into the options, it may seem overwhelming—especially if a sudden health crisis forces the decision faster than you expected.
The decision about where to live can make a huge difference in quality of life and well-being for seniors and family alike. Today there are more senior living options to choose from than ever before. Here is an overview of retirement housing choices:
Senior Housing refers to any type of housing limited to people over a certain age. It may be subsidized for lower-income seniors. The emphasis is on independent living, with few, if any, services offered.
Retirement Living Communities offer independent senior living in apartments, town homes or detached homes. They serve seniors who are generally in good health and do not provide personal care or health assistance. Many offer services such as housekeeping, dining, transportation and activities.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a full range of care, ranging from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care, all in one complex or “campus.” Some CCRCs charge a straight monthly rental. Others require an up-front “buy in.”
Assisted Living usually includes a private apartment and services which include help with personal care needs, some health care services, housekeeping and a recreation program.
Adult Family Homes are single-family homes licensed by the state to provide room, board and support services, on a short-term or long-term basis.
Skilled Nursing Facilities (nursing homes) provide extended care for frail or chronically ill seniors who require a high level of skilled nursing care and medical supervision.
Services for Aging in Place
Many seniors want to stay in the comfort and independence of their own home, apartment or condo, even as their health needs change. Support services for these seniors include home modifications, home-delivered meals, senior transportation, adult day centers, and in-home care. Home care services include housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, and personal care, such as help with bathing and grooming. Home health care, provided by nurses or aides, ranges from simple medical procedures, all the way to skilled medical services and rehabilitation services in the home.
Rules of Thumb for the Savvy Senior Living Shopper
- Begin the search early and take your time.
- Get the facts you need to make an informed decision.
- Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs—both current and looking to the future.
- Visit potential senior living communities and talk to current residents.
- Don’t make the decision alone. Talk it over with family and professionals (your doctor, financial adviser, geriatric ).