Housing Options for Seniors



1. Stay in current home

Seniors who decide to and are able to stay in their homes have a few options. Remodeling or upgrading a home to include safety features can save the senior from moving completely, but can vary widely in cost. Installing ramps for wheelchairs and grab bars in hallways and bathrooms, de-cluttering traffic areas, and creating better lighting are a few examples of these safety measures. If further assistance is needed with tasks around the house or personal care, these options are available:

Homemaker Services (Non-medical home care)

  • These services provide assistance with household tasks that an individual cannot manage alone. Support with minor chores including cleaning house, cooking meals, and running errands make it possible for a senior to remain in his home. Family, friends or neighbors typically provide these support services initially as the senior’s needs increase.

Home Health Aides (Medical home care)

  • A more extensive personal care option than that typically provided by family, friends, neighbors or homemaker services. directed by the individual’s physicians and other health care providers.
  • Seniors receive assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, assisting with maintaining continence, laundry, shopping for and preparing food, and medication management (under the supervision of an RN or LVN following a physician’s dictates).
  • May act as an advisor to patients and families on certain issues; provides support by instruction or psychologically.
  • Also referred to as ‘home care aide,’ ‘home caregiver,’ ‘patient care technician’ and others.

2. Independent Living Facilities

  • Designed for independent and active adults who have few or no health care needs but who choose to downsize from their current homes.
  • Built to accommodate an active senior lifestyle by providing recreational, educational and social activities such as exercise classes, guest speakers and organized outings to the theater.
  • May or may not include hospitality and support services such as meals and assistance with Activities of Daily Living. If residents need extra help with their ADLs, they may privately contract with an agency to provide care services.
  • and 24-hour emergency response systems.
  • Also referred to as ‘active lifestyle communities,’ ‘retirement communities’ and ‘senior living communities.'

3. Adult Day Health Care (ADH)

  • A facility where the adult patient who needs supervision and assistance is dropped off just for the day.
  • Programs typically provide meals, personal assistance, medication management, social interaction, therapeutic activities and more.
  • Three types of Adult Day Health Care Models:
  • Social Model – For individuals who do not need medical based services.
  • Provides basic care, supervision, meals, recreation, and social activities.
  • Medical Model – For individuals who require medical monitoring because of health conditions. May also offer physical, occupational and/or speech therapies.
  • Combination Model – Both social and medical models are incorporated.

4. Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs)

  • An apartment-style housing setting where an individual has moved out of her home and into this community facility to have access to consistent support with
  • Activities of Daily Living or supervision while still maintaining a level of independence.
  • Some states have smaller licensed homes (usually six beds), offering a higher ratio of caregivers to residents for more frail seniors without complex medical needs.
  • and/or reminders at ALFs.
  • Individuals who live in ALFs tend to be less impaired, have fewer health problems, and may not require medical supervision.
  • Offer Medicaid assistance through waivers for those who meet their state’s financial eligibility criteria and minimum level of needed care requirement.

5. Nursing Homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities

  • Provide shelter and care for seniors who have more serious health problems, functional impairments or cognitive deficits.
  • Services can include: personal care, assistance with ADLs, room and board, supervision, medication, therapies, rehabilitation and 24-hour skilled nursing.
  • May include programs devoted specifically to the care needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Costs may be covered by Medicaid for those people who meet their state’s financial eligibility criteria and minimum level of needed care requirement.

6. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

  • A full continuum of housing and services within the same community independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Caters to seniors ranging from those who are relatively active to those who suffer from serious physical and mental disabilities and chronic health problems.
  • As the senior’s needs change, he or she moves to the next ‘area’ within the community that is able to address his or her needs.
  • The various levels of shelter and care are housed on different floors or wings of a single high-rise building, in physically adjacent buildings (garden apartments, cottages, duplexes, mid- and low-rise buildings), or spread out in a campus setting.

7. Alzheimer’s/Dementia Facilities

  • These facilities may have programs and skilled caregivers devoted specifically to the care needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
  • These facilities are typically assisted living or skilled nursing facilities, but can include other types of housing facilities.
  • The caregivers may be awake and working 24/7 according to the needs of the residents.

© 2011 Society of Certified Senior Advisors

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