There are different types of housing options for seniors, and there are some good resources for locating and choosing one. Many who need to find a place for their elderly parent or loved one could use the help.
There’s a wide array of housing options available to seniors, but what’s appropriate for your loved one will depend on their needs and financial situation. Here’s a rundown of the different levels of senior housing and some resources to help you search.
- Independent living: If your mom is in relatively good health and is self-sufficient, “independent living communities” are a good place to start. Typically available to people over age 55, this type of senior housing is usually apartments or town homes that are fully functional. In addition, many of these communities also offer amenities such as meals served in a common dining area, housekeeping, transportation and a variety of social activities.
To locate this type of housing, contact your Area Agency on Aging or use online services. Most of these communities are private-pay only, and run anywhere from $1,000 to over $4,000 per month.
If that’s too expensive, another option is “senior apartments,” which are often subsidized by HUD for lower income seniors. You can locate these through your local housing authority or online at hud.gov.
- Assisted living: If your loved one needs some help with daily living activities, an “assisted living facility” is another option. These facilities provide personal care (like bathing, dressing, eating, going to the bathroom) as needed, as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, social activities and medication management. Many facilities also offer special care units for residents with dementia. Most resident’s pay for assisted living from personal funds, and some have long-term care insurance policies. But, some states now have voucher plans that let you use Medicaid money.
Your Area Aging Agency is again a good resource for finding these facilities, as are the previously listed senior housing locater websites. And for help choosing a facility, the Assisted Living Federation of America offers an excellent guide at alfa.org/checklist.
- Nursing homes: If your mom needs ongoing medical and personal care, a “nursing home,” which provides 24-hour skilled nursing care, is the next option. To find a good one, use Medicare’s nursing home compare tool at medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare. But be aware that nursing home care is very expensive. Most residents pay from either personal funds, a long-term care insurance policy, or through Medicaid after their savings are depleted.
- Continuing-care retirement communities (CCRC’s): A “CCRC” is another option that provides all levels of housing (independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing home care) in one convenient location. For more information see carf.org/aging.
Consider hiring an aging life care expert (aginglifecare.org) who can evaluate your mom’s situation, and find appropriate housing. Or, you can use a senior-care advising service. Some other helpful resources include the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information (longtermcare.gov), and your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (shiptalk.org), which provides free counseling.