Living well Your Health & Wellness

Housing options for older adults

Written by Diane Archer

Where you live can play a large role in your mental and physical health. There are a range of housing options for older adults to consider, meeting a variety of needs. Here’s a round-up of some of the most notable options.

  • Aging in place—Of all the options, remaining in your home and community as you age or “aging in place” feels best to most people. There is already familiarity with the home, neighborhood and community resources. Medical and social networks are generally in place. But, can it meet your long-term care needs?
  • CohousingThis may be the newest type of housing springing up for older adults. These housing complexes are designed for a group of people who want to create their own community, retaining their own housing unit while sharing common spaces and other facilities. With cohousing, the group might agree to share paid caregivers as well.
  • Tiny housesThese small homes, generally no more than 400 square feet, offer people who are ready to downsize significantly a way to simplify their lives and save money on maintenance. And, you can continue to live independently in the privacy of your own home. The question is what happens when you need long term services and supports.
  • Green homesLaunched in 2003, they are small intimate nursing homes, where aides have more time to spend with residents and work to accommodate their needs, be it a late breakfast or a trip to the doctor’s office. There are now 242 licensed homes in 32 states and 150 more being developed.
  • Continuing care retirement communitiesCCRCs offer housing, along with a range of social services and health care services, so you can live independently and, if the need arises, with less or more assistance.
  • Assisted living facilities–Assisted living facilities offer housing and meals as well as some social, personal care and housekeeping services. Some assisted living facilities offer small homes and others offer apartments. Most offer a common dining room.

If you decide that you want to live entirely independently, in your home or a smaller home without long-term services and supports, plan ahead for when you may need those supports. Modifying your home sooner rather than later could prevent an unneeded fall. It could also allow you to manage in your home if you have a disability. Think through what you would want to do if you cannot remain safely in your home.

Depending upon your situation and where you live, you may be eligible for PACE, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly in your community. PACE provides you with the long-term services and supports they may need so that you can live safely in your home.

If you choose to move, be sure to consider the location carefully. If you will no longer be able to see your doctors, identify new doctors and schedule appointments with them before moving. Think about whether the new location is convenient for family and friends to visit. If you like walking, make sure it is a walkable community. And, contact the local area aging on aging to learn about community resources and other benefits for older adults.

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3 Comments

  • …I’m pretty much satisfied with #1, aging in place. I have always been independent and enjoy that lifestyle. I choose when I want to socialise and when I don’t. I feel I’ve “paid my dues” times over sharing living space with others, having to deal with waiting to use the bath, the kitchen, as well as the “drama” that often is a part of living with others in the same space.

    Not sold on tiny homes as I feel they’re a bit too claustrophobic and question the quality of weatherising, and where I live, susceptibility to mould as well as durability. For one, they usually do not have a solid permanent foundation which could foster mould growth underneath, and is not as sturdy in an earth tremor (something else to be concerned about here).

    Assisted living is out completely. While I suffer from advancing rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, I still am able to get around and take care of simple life tasks. Also not interested in having others organise my life and activities for me. For example, I love to cook, and find it both relaxing and therapeutic. I like planning my own meals and making my own choices rather than having some dietician do it for me. The idea of eating in what amounts to a school/college cafeteria again is something I don’t wish to experience any more. Also group living situations can be fertile ground for the spread of illness.

    I currently live in low income housing in the city centre (a relatively new, well built, maintained, and secure structure) which in an area with a very high “walkability” rating and access to good transit. It has a well equipped modern laundry (only accessible to residents) and an exercise room. It is close to a major hospital should the need arise, has a 2 – 3 minute response time for fire and rescue units, and the most important part, is affordable.

    • I agree with everything you say about your living arrangement. My biggest problem is finding affordable apartments
      Working part-time and on SS . Have some savings but paying way too much in rent.

      • Look into federal housing via Rural Development Multi-Family Housing in your area. Apartments are rent controlled by income and there are many for the elderly (seniors) as well as family complexes. Maximum rent is around $300-$400 and can be less if you are very low income and some also have help with your utilities. https://rdmfh.rentals.sc.egov.usd a.gov is the website portal.

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