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Finding Housing Options as a Senior

The retirement home industry faces some stigma, indeed, as many people outright deny wanting to spend time in an "old folks home." They say that is until they take a look around some of the very best retirement homes out there. One of the biggest problems facing both seniors and the retirement home industry is that people are simply not well informed enough about all their options. When people take a closer look, they realize that there is much more to seniors housing than they thought at first.

The first thing about senior housing that most people are surprised to learn is there are a lot of different options. They range from simple independent living assistance to full blown 24 hours a day nursing home care. Obviously, the more care you need, the higher the cost. Let's take a closer look.

Skilled Nursing Facility/Nursing Home

A Nursing Home provides a very high level of care. Nursing care is usually available 24 hours a day, such as CNAs, LPNs, and RNs. If you are interested in becoming a CNA, you can learn more about CNA classes and how much they make here. Supportive services are widely available. Rooms are often, but not always, shared with others. All meals are provided and taken in a communal area unless the resident's medical condition prevents them from doing so. This is the best option for elder adults who have complex medical conditions such as Dementia, or need temporary, effective care during recovery from a serious illness or surgery.

Assisted Living Home

An assisted living home is a viable option for long-term senior care. It is different from skilled nursing facilities in which residents are less independent, need help with most if not all of their daily activities, and receive continuous medical care. On the other hand, an assisted living home provides a more home-like environment, and the residents retain a significant amount of independence but are still able to receive needed medical and daily activity support. An individualized plan is crafted for each resident, identifying areas of need.
The staff is available throughout the day and night to ensure adequate safety. Residents may receive assistance with medication administration, performing healthy activities, mobility, and transportation, depending on their needs. Rooms in these home are typically private and come in different sizes. Meals are taken in a central dining room, but there are often rooms with kitchenettes. Overall, these facilities are designed for seniors who need some medical services and assistance with their activities of daily living but do not require continuous nursing care

Retirement Community/Independent Living Community

Independent living communities also provide some medical services and supportive care. Housing arrangements vary; some communities may have single-family residences while others have apartments. Either way, houses are fully equipped and private. Centralized dining is available, but since the apartments are fully equipped, seniors can prepare their meals and enjoy them in their private residence if they choose to. Residents may choose to prepare all of their meals, purchase all of their meals, or buy a certain number of meals per day and enjoy the rest in the privacy of their home. Other supportive services, such as housekeeping and laundry, are often provided. However, medical care is not available, so this option is best for seniors who do not have complex medical conditions, are not suffering from a form of dementia, and need very little assistance with their daily activities.

Residential Care

Another option for seniors who need care or support is to choose residential care. A skilled caregiver comes to the senior's residence to assist with meals, transportation, performing healthy activities, and other activities of daily living. Care may infrequently be provided, perhaps once per week, or 24 hours a day, depending on what each client needs. This option is best for seniors who strongly desire to remain in their residence.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is the senior housing option of last resort. It is designed to provide services to individuals with less than six months to live. The goal of hospice care is not to provide medical care, but solely to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Prices range considerably, but the cost may be covered by Medicare so make sure to check your options.


Senior housing has come a long way from dingy old nursing homes. Assisted living communities, in particular, are outstanding. If you or a family member is beginning to get to an age where a bit of help would be prudent, make sure to speak with a placement service about the options in your area.