Senior Living Options Explained


Many seniors are not excited about the thought of moving, but sometimes it becomes necessary, whether it results from health issues, needing single-story living, or not being able to maintain a large home. Fortunately, there are many living options available to those 55 and over, making it easier to find a place where they can live comfortably and safely.

For Those Who Require Care

Two of the most common living options for those who require care are assisted living and skilled nursing communities. While most assisted living communities offer apartment-style living, with individual living quarters connected to the common areas by an interior hallway, some communities offer individual homes as well. Residents have their own kitchen, bath, living area, and bedroom, but they also have access to help when they need it, such as taking medications, bathing, getting dressed, or fixing meals. Assisted living also often provides transportation.

Skilled nursing communities, also known as nursing homes, provide care above and beyond what is available with assisted living. Doctors are usually on staff and make regular visits, while nursing assistants and nurses provide daily care to residents. Physical and occupational therapists are also on staff to help with rehabilitation and keep residents as physically and mentally fit as possible. All meals and snacks are provided based on medical condition and nutritional needs.

Another popular option for those who require care is in-home care. Instead of moving a senior to a new residence, a nurse visits daily or moves in to provide 24-hour care in the home. When considering this option, it’s important to find out if insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid will cover this type of care, or if there are funds available to pay for it out-of-pocket. Determining whether or not the resident can still live safely in the home, even with care, is also important. For example, even with full-time help, staying in a two-story home with no first-floor bedroom or bathroom is probably not be the best option.

For Those Who Don’t Require Care

Some seniors are quite capable of taking care of themselves, but would do better in a home without stairs, with less maintenance, or with others living around them. Loved ones in this situation would most likely do well in an active adult or independent living community. These communities can consist of single-family homes, condos, or apartments that can be either owned or rented. The common factor of these communities is they are for residents who are 55 or older. Depending on the location, style and age of residences, and amenities offered, these communities have various price ranges.

Because these communities are designed for senior living, they offer spaces that are easily accessible and activities that appeal to those 55 and over. Some are like little cities, with restaurants, workout facilities, golf courses, and swimming pools. Others have a community center where residents can meet for coffee or a potluck, or to watch a movie or play bingo. While most seniors in these communities are still able to drive, transportation to places ranging from the grocery store to an art festival is often provided. These communities offer social interaction with other seniors and a safe place to live.

For Those Who Like to Plan Ahead

Continuing-care retirement communities (CCRCs) can reduce the number of times a senior has to relocate and adjust to new surroundings. CCRCs provide different types of living options in one place. Seniors can start out in independent living, then progress to assisted and/or skilled nursing as it becomes necessary. The benefit to this type of community is knowing that the proper level of care will be available when needed without having to find a new place. The downside is this convenience and peace of mind often comes with a higher price tag.

Whichever living option makes the most sense, the move to a new residence can be made easier by hiring a senior move manager who can pack up and organize all of the belongings in the old residence and prepare the new place so it feels like home when the senior moves in.