Senior Housing

A wide variety of senior living options exist to meet the diverse needs of today’s senior citizen population. There are more options now than there have ever been for seniors to age with dignity.

When it is time to start searching for senior living facilities for you or a loved one, it can be difficult to figure out which type of housing solution is best. A good senior living facility will meet the resident’s physical, mental and social health needs. In addition, the high cost of many senior living communities plays a big part in choosing a new home.

It can be difficult to find low income senior housing, but it is not impossible. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides different types of housing subsidies to help seniors relocate to senior apartment communities. HUD also plays a role in providing homeless senior housing solutions to elderly people who have lost their homes due to poverty.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are some of the most commonly-known types of senior housing. Candidates for senior assisted living are older adults who need some help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and using the bathroom. However, applicants for this senior living option are mostly able to live independently and want to retain as much self-sufficiency as they can, for as long as they are able.

Related Article: Senior Housing Resources

Assisted living facilities provide residents with their own apartment or housing unit, which is connected to common areas where meals are eaten and social activities happen. Assisted living facilities provide a higher level of care than retirement communities, but much less care than is available at a skilled nursing facility.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled nursing facilities are living options that meet the needs of senior citizens with significant health concerns. Sometimes referred to as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities provide comprehensive nursing care 24 hours a day. Residents of skilled nursing facilities usually need a good deal of help to complete daily living activities, such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and eating.

Benefits of skilled nursing facilities include the fact that patients can stay there on a short-term or long-term basis. Many residents of skilled nursing facilities are there for a period of time following an injury, serious illness or invasive surgery. These facilities also provide the wound care and rehabilitation services needed after these health crises.

Types of Retirement Communities

Senior living options include several types of retirement communities. Nearly all senior retirement communities have strict age limits, with some allowing residents as young as 55 years of age and others requiring residents to be 62 years of age or older. Senior retirement communities include the following:

  • Independent living facilities: These senior housing complexes are intended for healthy older adults who need little to no help with daily tasks of life. Most independent senior living residents are outgoing people who want more social interactions on a daily basis. Some choose independent living to escape the stress of maintaining a home and yard.
  • Senior retirement communities: Retirement communities can have a variety of dwelling options, from apartments, to mobile homes to small cottages. All retirement communities provide seniors with private living accommodations and access to a wide variety of on-site amenities, which may include restaurants, theaters, swimming pools and hot tubs. As with independent living facilities, retirement communities are best for healthy older adults who do not need much help with daily tasks. However, it is easy to have a home health nurse or aide visit your apartment and provide help if needed.
  • Senior apartments: The majority of senior living homes are located in senior apartment complexes or buildings. As with other types of retirement communities, senior apartments provide private living units connected to common living and dining areas. Residents are not required to eat meals in the communal areas, and may cook their own food in their unit’s kitchen or kitchenette. Senior apartments are good for those who do not require much help and are generally healthy.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities: These all-in-one facilities include buildings or floors dedicated to different levels of care. Residents may reside in an independent living area, an assisted living facility or the skilled nursing facility, and may transfer between departments as needed. When a senior citizen enters a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC, he or she will usually remain there for the rest of their life. There is no need to transfer to another type of senior living facility because all types of care are included at the CCRC. These senior retirement communities are the most expensive and require a large single payment for admission, followed by monthly payments throughout the length of the resident’s life.

Finding Affordable Senior Housing

If you need low income senior housing, begin your search by contacting HUD and finding out if you or your loved one qualifies for any of the subsidies HUD provides to seniors. Certain communities and cities also offer help through the local public housing authority. Public housing can be a good resource to help find low income housing for senior citizens in your neighborhood. Other low income senior housing solutions can be found when friends or relatives rent a senior apartment together to help save money on rent.

Help for Homeless Senior Citizens

There is a need for homeless senior housing in many areas of the country. Many seniors rely on Social Security retirement or Social Security disability benefit payments as their sole source of income, but these are not enough to keep up with the cost of living. When a financial crisis strikes, many homeless elderly individuals never recover and end up losing their homes.

High health care costs play a huge part in the rising rates of homeless seniors in many communities. In addition, the financial stress that leads to homelessness ages older adults faster than usual, making serious health problems appear sooner. HUD offers the Section 202 supportive housing subsidy as help for homeless seniors and other types of housing assistance. Connecting elderly homeless people to such services plays a large role in getting them back into a livable home.

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