Senior Housing Options

When the need arises to begin searching for senior living options, it can be overwhelming to choose from the different types of housing available for senior citizens.

Senior living communities continue to improve and offer increasingly extensive amenities. Senior living facilities are designed to meet different types of physical, mental and emotional health needs. Some homes are best suited for healthy older adults who are able to live independently, while other types of facilities are designed to provide varying levels of care.

You can review the sections below to learn about the senior living choices available today and get direction on how to launch your senior housing search. Regardless of your choice in senior living homes, make sure to thoroughly research properties, visit them repeatedly and have your attorney review documents before you sign anything.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities provide a good balance between independent living and getting help with everyday tasks. These senior living communities are good for older adults who want to remain as self-sufficient as possible but must rely on others for certain types of assistance. Senior assisted living residents live in their own unit or apartment, but eat meals and socialize in the facility’s common areas.

Related Article: Senior Housing Resources

Most assisted living facilities aid residents with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing and grooming. Staff at assisted living homes also help residents stay on a proper medication schedule and arrange social activities representing a variety of interests. The assisted living cost is less than the cost of a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, but more than independent living facilities or senior apartment communities.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, are senior living options that work best for senior citizens with significant health concerns. Skilled nursing facilities provide high-level nursing care around the clock to senior citizens with multiple health problems following a serious injury, illness or surgical procedure. A senior citizen may have to stay in a nursing facility on a short-term or long-term basis. Skilled nursing facilities also provide physical therapy, speech therapy and wound care services.

Many patients end up choosing this option only after exhausting all other forms of care. Benefits of skilled nursing facilities include knowing that you or your loved one’s needs will be met, no matter how serious. Requirements for skilled nursing facilities include keeping an adequate number of nurses on staff. Skilled nursing care is provided by a range of professionals, including RNs, LPNs, certified nursing assistant (CNAs) and supervising physicians.

Although not as extensive as the opportunities provided at independent living communities, skilled nursing facilities try to offer as many social and recreational options as possible to help residents enjoy life to the fullest despite their difficulties.

Independent Living Facilities

Senior independent living facilities help senior citizens remain living on their own for as long as possible by eliminating yard work and other daily stresses of maintaining a home. Senior independent living communities are best for older adults with few health problems who are able to feed, bathe and groom themselves without help. One of the greatest benefits of this type of senior living is that moving to a community helps alleviate the loneliness many senior citizens experience after the death of a spouse or when adult children move away. Independent senior living costs can be much higher than other housing options, and insurance does not cover the cost of living in an independent living facility.

Senior Apartments and Retirement Communities

Senior apartments are the most commonly-utilized type of senior living in America. Senior citizen apartments are available to residents from all income brackets, and many senior apartment complexes offer units subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Subsidized senior apartments help lower income seniors enjoy the sense of community and social networking provided by living among other senior citizens.

Senior apartments and other types of retirement communities are best for adults age 55 and older who want relief from yard work and other home maintenance duties, but who do not yet require help with daily activities of living, such as cooking and grooming. Senior retirement communities allow residents to decorate as they wish and even have pets, although they may have limits on the size or number of pets.

Although senior apartments are the most common type of retirement community, these living solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on your location, you may be able to find retirement communities comprised of townhomes, manufactured homes, townhouses or small cottages connected to common areas by sidewalks or paths. Some of the best retirement communities include amenities that rival high-end hotels, including on-site restaurants, spas, indoor swimming pools and libraries.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) combine independent living apartments, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing care options all in one location. A CCRC is a good senior living option for older adults whose medical needs tend to fluctuate. These senior living facilities allow residents to “age in place” without moving from one location to another every time their medical needs change. This makes CCRCs one of the best senior living communities for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, because moving to a new home can be particularly traumatizing for these residents.

Residents may enter the CCRC at the independent living level of care, progress to assisted living and then move on to the on-site skilled nursing facility when needed. Unfortunately, there is a high price to pay for this level of stability. Continuing care retirement communities require a large lump sum payment at the time of enrollment, often amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, residents must pay a monthly fee to live at a CCRC, and these fees may not include meals, transportation or social event charges.

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