Housing Options for Older Adults

Date:

December 24, 2020

Categories:

Reading Time: 4 minutes

But for most of us there comes a time when staying at home, particularly by ourselves, may no long

For most of us there comes a time when staying at home, particularly by ourselves, may no longer be the safe option.

This article provides a very brief overview of various housing choices along with some internet references for additional information and research.

Option 1: Modifications and Services that Allow Independent Living

There are many modifications that can be made in the residence to make it safer – removing trip and fall hazards, adding grab bars, adding a ramp, widening doorways to accommodate a walker to wheelchair, making sure there is adequate lighting. A home safety checklist can be very helpful – you can find an example here.

There are also more and more providers of home services for the elderly. Unfortunately most of these can be fairly expensive since you normally are paying by the hour or the day. And the level of skill required can also affect price. Having someone come in to clean and cook is different from having someone come in to help with activities of daily living such a bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed and toileting. Here is a non-profit resource for evaluating services: https://helpguide.org/elder/senior_services_living_home.htm

Adult day care services and respite care services also can help the elderly remain in a home setting by providing a safe way for the caregiver to take a break and attend to other family and person business.

Another approach to remaining independent is moving to an independent living community, which offers private apartments or cottages in a more secure setting usually with many options for socialization. These properties may provide housekeeping, laundry, meal service and transportation services.

Option 2: Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A CCRC is a retirement community that offers multiple levels of care (independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing) on one campus. This can be a good choice for a couple where one person needs more help than the other, but it also can be an expensive choice. Some CCRCs will guarantee placement for the remainder of a person’s life even if the person runs out of money.

With a CCRC it is important to fully understand the terms of the contract you are signing, what is covered and what services are at additional cost. Several evaluation tools are available online including a Guide sheet for Evaluating Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Questions to Consider When Evaluating Continuing Care Contracts.

Option 3: Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are licensed facilities that provide supportive services while allowing seniors to maintain their independence. Assisted living facilities may vary in the level of care they provide. Type A facilities will accept residents who are able to evacuate the building unassisted in case of emergency. Type B facilities accept residents with more complex medical problems and may include services such as transfer assistance and incontinent care.

Special care facilities are also available for people with varying stages of dementia. These are generally locked units with assistance and activity programming designed for people with dementia. AARP offers an online Assisted Living Facility Evaluation Checklist that you can download and print. You can fill out one for each facility you visit then use that information to help make a decision.

Option 4: Skilled Care Facilities

Skilled care facilities are licensed facilities that provide therapy services, nursing care and custodial care. Residents may be in a skilled care facility for respite, rehabilitation or long-term care. Skilled care facilities also often have special units for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

The Medicare website offers a Nursing Home Compare feature that allows you to search for nursing homes in your area and compare quality information before choosing which facilities to visit in person. 

er be the safe option. This article provides a very brief overview of various housing choices along with some internet references for additional information and research.

Option 1: Modifications and Services that Allow Independent Living

There are many modifications that can be made in the residence to make it safer – removing trip and fall hazards, adding grab bars, adding a ramp, widening doorways to accommodate a walker to wheelchair, making sure there is adequate lighting. A home safety checklist can be very helpful.

There are also more and more providers of home services for the elderly. Unfortunately most of these can be fairly expensive since you normally are paying by the hour or the day. And the level of skill required can also affect price. Having someone come in to clean and cook is different from having someone come in to help with activities of daily living such a bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed and toileting.

Adult day care services and respite care services also can help the elderly remain in a home setting by providing a safe way for the caregiver to take a break and attend to other family and person business.

Another approach to remaining independent is moving to an independent living community, which offers private apartments or cottages in a more secure setting usually with many options for socialization. These properties may provide housekeeping, laundry, meal service and transportation services.

Option 2: Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A CCRC is a retirement community that offers multiple levels of care (independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing) on one campus. This can be a good choice for a couple where one person needs more help than the other, but it also can be an expensive choice. Some CCRCs will guarantee placement for the remainder of a person’s life even if the person runs out of money. With a CCRC it is important to fully understand the terms of the contract you are signing, what is covered and what services are at additional cost.

Option 3: Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are licensed facilities that provide supportive services while allowing seniors to maintain their independence. Assisted living facilities may vary in the level of care they provide. Type A facilities will accept residents who are able to evacuate the building unassisted in case of emergency. Type B facilities accept residents with more complex medical problems and may include services such as transfer assistance and incontinent care. Special care facilities are also available for people with varying stages of dementia. These are generally locked units with assistance and activity programming designed for people with dementia.

Option 4: Skilled Care Facilities

Skilled care facilities are licensed facilities that provide therapy services, nursing care and custodial care. Residents may be in a skilled care facility for respite, rehabilitation or long-term care. Skilled care facilities also often have special units for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. 

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