Senior Housing Options: Which One Works Best?


The US hosts a staggering 54 million seniors aged 65 and above – the highest population in the developed world. And one of the most important needs for seniors is comfortable housing.

Over the years, senior housing options have changed to suit the growing demands.

Retirees today have a wider variety of housing options to provide all the types of care they require. With such a wide variety of choices, selecting where a senior can spend their golden years could be confusing. This guide describes four senior housing options and states the pros and cons of each so you can pick one that works best.

Senior Housing: What is it?

As we grow older and enter senior years, our needs change. We slow down and appreciate a change in scenery. We shun the hustle and bustle of work-life and want to spend time in a more peaceful environment. People also shift to smaller homes. Most seniors also require help in movement and other important activities for daily living like cooking, cleaning, and medical care.

Due to changes in the living environment and services required, many people make changes in some aspects of personal financial management. For example, some buy life insurance coverage for people over 80 to suit the new living conditions.

There are two main types of senior housing options: independent living options and options with assistance. In this guide, we evaluate the following types of senior housing options:

  • Aging in place or at-home care
  • Independent living communities
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living

Aging in Place or at-Home Care

Aging in place or at-home care describes situations where seniors opt to stay put in their homes and live out their golden years. But they modify the house to suit their mobility needs. The seniors get living assistance mainly from family members. But in some cases, professional caregivers and healthcare workers call in to provide support.

The Pros

  • One is still independent.
  • Daily living costs are low because there is no full-time caregiver to support.
  • Familiar surroundings offer comfort.
  • Seniors opting to age in place often have family members and loved ones ready to support them with regular tasks. Thus they maintain contact for longer.
  • You can adapt services to suit the upgrades. An excellent example is home insurance for seniors.

The Cons

  • Home modification is an expensive undertaking. It could deplete funds meant for other purposes like healthcare.
  • Family members might not always be consistent in providing support. This could be risky, especially with tasks like taking medication.
  • The home (although modified) might not meet the standards required to keep seniors comfortable.

Independent Living Communities

Seniors can opt to spend their days in age-restricted communities. The home could be a single-family home, a condo, a townhouse, or an apartment. These homes are senior-friendly. The builders consider mobility and maintenance issues and typically have several amenities for seniors to access. The communities often organize regular support services such as trash handling, healthcare, cooking, and maintenance.

The Pros

  • Seniors have peers to socialize with and form new friendships.
  • The design of buildings has seniors in mind.
  • Costs of service providers are shared and kept low.
  • New interactions could spur growth and new ideas.

The Cons

  • Socializing could be a pain point for some seniors.
  • The homes are suited for seniors who do not need additional assistance and want to continue experiencing people around their age.
  • Separation from family and loved ones could be uncomfortable for some seniors.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are senior housing options where residents get assistance in executing important activities for daily living. However, medical care is often not included in the package. Where there is some medical care, it is allowed with limitations.

In assisted living facilities, seniors share a building where each person has private or semi-private quarters. The quarters comprise a bedroom and bathroom. Seniors share amenities like dining and recreation areas. They also share support services like housekeeping and exercise.

The Pros

  • The presence of peers encourages socialization.
  • Shared amenities and services help to keep costs low.
  • The facility could have healthcare workers to provide some assistance in medical care.
  • The facilities are regulated and supervised by state governments.

The Cons

  • The facilities are not suitable for seniors who need extensive personal and medical care services.
  • There is little independence.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are senior housing options that offer extensive medical and personal care services. Nursing homes have several amenities to facilitate basic activities and service delivery.

The seniors share a building but have separate private or semi-private quarters.

The staff provides personal and medical assistance round the clock. Thus, a more clinical environment.

The Pros

  • Round-the-clock medical care services make it ideal for seniors who need extensive long-term medical assistance.
  • They are regulated and supervised by state governments.

The Cons

  • There is little or no privacy.
  • Staying at nursing homes is expensive.

Choosing Which one Works Best

As you and your loved ones sit down to discuss which senior housing options work best, consider the following:

  • Be honest about expectations in handling important activities for daily living.
  • Talk with doctors and get recommendations concerning medical care, mobility issues, and other concerns. .
  • Visit potential homes and engage the community and management.
  • Finally, discuss the financial implications of each option with a professional financial advisor.

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