Starting to research senior housing options isn't easy as it means we're admitting we're getting old and that's not easy. Maybe when you're looking at different senior housing choices for a loved one, the task is easier but ultimately the day will come when you (or they) move to a new home that supports their needs.
Criteria for Researching Senior Housing Options
Having just returned home from visiting my sister, there's always a bit of self doubt. Is she in the right place, and while I know she is, I wondered if we missed anything. So here's a summary of the criteria you can use to evaluate different types of senior housing.
- Physical and medical needs – cover the amount of help you need with activities of daily living, and what is equally important are the instrumental activities of daily living that take eating to the next level, meaning the ability to do grocery shopping and prepare meals. Read Caring.com's article on Activities of Daily Living, and consider what assistance is needed now and in the future.
- Social and emotional needs – are critical throughout our lives, and how we meet these needs changes as we age. Consider the impact when seniors can no longer drive, and must rely on public transportation or friends for rides. Friends move and die, so living in senior housing makes it easier to make new friends to avoid becoming isolated.
- Home renovations and maintenance – are key to anyone aging in place. Renovations like grab bars and wider doorways are usually needed, and then there's the matter of ongoing cleaning, maintenance and repairs. It's hard for seniors to stop doing things they've always done but after building wheelchair ramps following several accidents, I recommended leaving ladder work to others.
- Financial needs – range from property taxes and home modifications, to services needed to successfully live at home when family members can't provide all the help needed. It's especially hard to watch the health of one senior decline as they try to care for their spouse … out of love, or a lack of funds.
Senior Housing Options to Research
There are an estimated 80 million baby boomers who are rapidly approaching the point where they need to decided on where to spend their retirement years. Most seniors will remain in their homes, relying on family and/or health care services but it's worth research the different senior housing options available, and we found a great tool to help you compare costs – Long Term Care Costs Across the United States, to evaluate your options.
- Aging in Place – means staying in your current home, a place you're familiar with and where you know your neighbors, community and support team like doctors. There are many home care services to help you live comfortably, although you'll need to make modifications to your home to make life easier and safer.
- Accessory Dwelling Units – include the traditional in-law units allowing multiple generations to live together, with a degree of independence. New ways to meet these needs are popping up with homes designed for multiple generations. You can learn about some of these reading Custom Home Designs for Multi-Generations) and Granny Pods for Your Backyard.
- Senior Village or Network Solutions – provide seniors with a community of service providers for transportation, house repairs, health care and more, so you don't need to rely on family and friends.
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities – range from a single city highrise like the one my mother lives in, to large surburban communities in southern climates like my new home in Fountain Hills, AZ. These communities organize and/or develop the services needed by seniors to remain at home, including meal delivery, transportation plus social, education and recreational services.
- Independent Living – typically refers to senior housing that's exclusively for seniors. These include senior homes, apartments, and 55+ retirement communities offering a range of housing options and services.
- Assisted Living – provides housing and much more, including help with some activities of daily living, like the medication help my sister needs. If you're looking at assisted living as your senior housing choice, there are still options to research from congregate care to group homes, to adult group homes and other facilities that include staffing 24 hours a day.
- Nursing Homes – provide the highest level of care outside a hospital, providing assistance with activities of daily living and a high level of medical care. A nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises, and medical care falls under the supervision of a doctor.