The American population is rapidly aging, and the housing needs of older adults can be vastly different from those of younger, more active individuals. Whether you are looking for senior housing for yourself or a friend or family member, it is important to understand the available options. The right type of housing will be based on individual abilities, medical needs and, for some older adults, cognitive functioning.
1. Aging in Place
This is the ideal housing scenario for many older adults, and there is a growing body of evidence that it can improve health outcomes and lower the overall cost of care. As its name implies, aging in place is when a senior remains in his or her home as they get older. They are able to retain connections and involvement with their friends and community, which contributes to lower levels of isolation and depression. Services like in-home aides, meals on wheels and companion care can help meet basic needs for those who are homebound or who need an extra hand.
2. Residential Care Homes
Living alone isn’t always good for seniors, however. It can contribute to isolation if there are no services in place and there is a potential for accidents or injury if loved ones are not nearby to monitor the situation. Residential care homes, which are also sometimes referred to as board and care or group homes, offer a home-like compromise between independent and assisted living. These are smaller than a nursing facility, with most having 10 or fewer beds. They are generally private homes, so residents feel like part of a family and can engage in social interaction with their peers. Some care is provided, but it is generally non-medical in nature.
3. Independent Living
Independent living or retirement communities are private homes, townhomes or apartments whose residency is age-restricted. These offer older adults who are able to perform all of the basic tasks required to live on their own, but who also want to be around others their own age. Many of these communities are gated to increase security for residents. They may also offer opportunities for social interaction, spiritual enrichment and physical fitness.
4. Memory Care
For seniors who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe cognitive impairment, a memory care facility or unit within an assisted living center may be a good housing choice. Staff is specially trained to address the needs and concerns of those with dementia or other types of cognitive decline. Medical care, assistance with personal hygiene and grooming and appropriate social activities are provided to ensure residents retain the hu=ighest quality of life possible.
5. Assisted Living
If you need at least some level of help, such as with personal hygiene and grooming tasks or medication reminders, an assisted living community could be a good solution. Most feature individual apartments or condominium-style housing so you will have at least some level of privacy and personal space. At the same time, they will have care providers on-site to help with personal care, ADLs and basic housekeeping chores.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up independence or moving into a nursing home. Assess your needs first, and then explore senior housing options to find the best fir for your situation.