UPDATED: Oct 19, 2019
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Choice of housing remains one of the most important decisions older adults have to make. You are presented with choosing the perfect housing which will go a long way in determining how comfortable you will be in the golden years.
There are many housing options available, but there are several factors to consider before choosing. You will want to live in a home that suits you for as long as possible. You may want a setting where there are many activities and social opportunities available or you may prefer something quieter with in-home support services.
Housing needs differ from individual to individual. It is important to note that a senior with limited mobility or significant medical needs may have different housing requirements than a fairly healthy older person who is capable of living independently.
However, the most important thing is ensuring that you are matched with the specific housing arrangement that meets your unique needs.
Aging in Place
Aging in place has many advantages including staying in a familiar location, maintaining a sense of home, keeping the same neighbors, and proximity to family members and friends. For some, this may require making modifications to the house, such as additional railings or ramps, to allow continued use of it into the senior years.
- HUD User: Meeting the future housing needs of seniors
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy aging and the built environment
- Tennessee Department of Health: Healthy aging
When making choices for a retirement home, it is imperative to consider certain factors, such as finances, size, and ability to manage and maintain the living space. Consider a home with easy accessibility, limited stairs, a location that is near services, and that has the number of rooms that you require. A large home with a lawn may be beautiful, but it may also become a hinderance and more difficult to maintain with age.
- Eldercare: Housing options for older adults
- Clark County, Washington: Moving on: A guide to housing-related resources tailored to seniors and their families
- North Carolina State University: Reverse mortgages and downsizing: Education for retirement success
A senior community consists of elderly individuals who are still able and capable of taking care of their personal needs. There are many senior community options available to older individuals. These include:
Congregate housing: This is a type of senior community which comes with an option where some of the needs of older people are taken care of in common, such as sharing one meal as a community or having maintenance and housekeeping provided as part of the rent.
Leisure or lifestyle-oriented communities: This community type is exactly what its name says. It is a type of senior community where basic leisure and lifestyle amenities are provided for seniors with the aim of giving them time to relax and connect with each other.
Age-restricted retirement communities: These are standard rental accommodations with age restrictions, although some of them may have additional services for seniors. The are usually apartment complexes or small communities that choose to cater to senior citizens rather than families or students. While an option for many, it may not be an ideal living situation for seniors who are caring full or parttime for grandchildren.
- State of New Jersey, Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services: Housing options for senior citizens
- Internal Revenue Service: Senior housing
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development: Senior housing: What you should know
Assisted living and nursing homes
Assisted living facilities are intended for senior citizens who need some level of daily care to maintain their independence. Nursing homes are similar but usually offer a higher level of care and can deal with many types of medical requirements. These types of facilities have 24-hour nursing staff who can assist residents. They are often more costly but can provide peace of mind and care.
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Types of facilities
- Medicare: What are my other long-term care choices?
- US Department of Veterans Affairs: Assisted living facilities
Moving in with children
Sometimes the best option is for elderly parents to move in with their adult children. This situation can offer the comfort of familiar people while cutting down on costs as well. For some families, it provides a sense of relief in knowing that their parent is in caring hands.
It is important to understand that modifications to the home may still be needed. Also, consider accessing community resources and bringing in-home care workers for elderly parents who need round-the-clock care so that all of the burden does not fall solely on family members.
- AARP: Living with aging parents
- Pew Research Center: Caring for aging parents
- Family Caregiver Alliance: Home away from home: Relocating your parents
Do you still need help to make the decision? Take your time and consider everything that needs to be considered:
- Is special medical care going to be required in your later years?
- Do you enjoy the company of people or prefer the comforts of home?
- Do you want to be located near doctors, cafes, family, or senior resources?
- Will you need to retrofit your home if you choose to remain in it?
- Do you want to stay close to family?
- What is within your budget and can you find additional resources to help with paying for assisted living or a nursing home?
Before making any final decisions, visit the following resources:
USA.gov offers information and resources on making senior housing affordable. Their Housing for senior citizens section is a good place to start.
Benefits.gov has an extensive list of housing assistance programs for most situations. They also list a variety of mortgage programs. You can find the list, along with more information, on their Housing page.
If you have health concerns, it is important to learn how they will affect your housing needs as you age. MedlinePlus has helpful information on Senior health, aging, and health conditions.
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