Finding senior housing – either for the first time or following a move away from your previous home – is a challenging process, with many important things to consider. Before even thinking about specific facilities, you should first decide what kind of senior housing is best suited to your needs, lifestyle, and preferences.
There are various types of senior housing available across the United States and Canada, from independent living facilities to group homes and assisted living facilities. You should also bear in mind that even facilities in the same category may differ in the flexibility and assistance they offer, so it is always best to research and carefully consider all of your options before making a decision.
Independent living facilities offer seniors the least amount of assistance and the most flexibility of all the formal senior living options, with the exception of home care. You can think of independent living facilities as similar to serviced apartments, as they provide services such as housekeeping and laundry but typically don’t have the staff to help with dressing and bathing, among other personal care requirements.
Having said that, you can still live in such a facility even if you do need regular nursing care or help with daily life, so long as you arrange this assistance separately, though this is unlikely to be cost-effective.
Although independent living facilities aren’t the best option if you want many social events with other residents, many independent living homes do run such events and gatherings from time to time.
Assisted living facilities provide the same services that independent living facilities offer, in addition to more personal and individualized care, such as help with getting dressed and assistance with your personal hygiene.
Due to this extra layer of care, assisted living facilities are typically more expensive than independent living facilities. Still, it will usually work out far more cost-effective than living in an independent living home and paying a third-party to provide personal care. Bear in mind that you may need to hire a third-party if you need medical care, or you can instead opt for a nursing home.
Home care is a great and increasingly popular option for seniors who are in need of some level of care but would prefer to stay living in their own home, for whatever reason. This option offers the most flexibility and can be the least stressful, as you don’t need to sell your home to pay for the cost of moving into a new facility, though you will still need to consider how to pay for the home care services.
In some cases, Medicare covers the cost of home care arrangements, though it doesn’t cover 24-hour at-home care, housekeeping services, and meal delivery and preparation.
Most seniors who opt for home care have typically been looked after by family members in the past, but now need additional care or want to lighten the burden on their family members.
Group homes for seniors are ideal if you want to live in a more homely environment than an assisted living facility and want to have social interaction with other residents, which you are unlikely to get if you opt for a home care arrangement.
Such facilities emphasize independence, catering care to the individual requirements of each resident, and encouraging interaction between residents via communal events, such as game nights, and outings to museums and other attractions.
As with some of the other facilities on this list, you can still live in a group home even if you need dedicated nursing or personal care, but you will need to arrange and pay for this extra assistance yourself.
Senior apartments are another senior housing option that is on the rise. They are, in many respects, essentially just like renting or buying any other apartment, but these apartments are designed specifically for seniors.
For example, senior apartments usually have great accessibility, and many are just a single story, so you don’t have to walk up any stairs. Many senior apartments also feature handrails in their bathrooms and other safety measures.
These housing facilities come in different sizes and various different arrangements to suit your individual needs and preferences. Condos, duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses are available. To be eligible to purchase or rent a senior apartment, you typically need to be at least 55 years old, though each facility has different requirements.
Senior apartments offer residents a great level of independence and a real sense of community, and you can hire a third-party to assist with your personal and medical care needs.
Funding your choice of senior housing can be costly and complex, so you should always consider the long-term affordability of a housing option and seek professional financial advice when necessary before making a commitment.
Many seniors tend to fund their senior housing by selling off or renting out their own home. If you decide to sell off your property, it is advisable to invest the money into a low-risk, interest-paying security, such as an annuity, so you can continue to make your senior living payments despite being in retirement.
Other private funding options include reverse mortgages, also known as equity release plans, or a life settlement, which is when you convert an existing life insurance policy into money that can be used to pay for your senior housing.
Medicare only pays for medically necessary care, such as living in a nursing home and, therefore, doesn’t cover the cost of living in an assisted living facility, for example.
Meanwhile, Medicaid does cover many more senior housing options for older adults with low finances, but, as each state government runs it despite it being a federal program, the requirements and the level of assistance offered vary from state to state.