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6 Senior Housing Options And How To Find Retirement Bliss

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Published on September 15, 2021
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So, you’re at the stage of your life where you need to start transitioning into a new living situation. Many senior housing options range in levels of care and independence, so you can find your perfect match no matter your age.

By 2050, more than a fifth of the United States population will be 65 years or older, compared to 15.6% in 2021.1 With that figure in mind, the availability of senior housing options is expected to grow by 5.3% by 2027.2 This means there will be more care facilities to choose from.

Whether you’re downsizing, refinancing your home or moving into an assisted living facility, evaluate your needs as you look through different senior housing options to find the one that will work best for you.

 

Table Of Contents:

Senior Living Options And Types Of Retirement Communities

Each senior housing option provides a different level of care and assistance, but all focus on providing a sense of community within the facilities. Below is a comprehensive list with information on the types of options available. Use this guide to help you make an informed decision about your senior living options.

1. Independent Living Communities

Independent living is an option for older adults who don’t require daily assistance but are ready to move into a senior living community.

Independent living communities generally don’t provide emergency medical care or assistance with personal care. They may provide housekeeping, fitness classes, activities and on-site dining facilities.

  • How to pay: Long-term care insurance, Medicaid and veteran benefits
  • Average cost of living: $12,000 – $42,000 per year3
  • Average age: 65+
  • Independence level: Highly independent

2. Continuing Care Retirement Community 

This is a great option for those who wish to stay in the same community while their need for assistance progresses. Services will depend on how much care is required. These communities typically have buildings that provide different levels of care, which makes it an easy transition for those moving from independent to assisted living.

  • How to pay: Medicaid, Medicare or personal funds
  • Average cost of living: Ranges from $2,000 – $6,000 per month4
  • Average age: 60+
  • Independence level: Ranges from highly independent to requiring medical and personal care

3. Nursing Homes

Nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities are for those who require around-the-clock care from trained care professionals. Nursing homes are focused on maintaining the health of the residents, rather than supporting an active lifestyle.

  • How to pay: Medicare, Medicaid or personal funds
  • Average cost of living: $7,756 per month3
  • Average age: 85+
  • Independence level: Requires medical and personal care

4. Assisted Living Residences

An assisted living residence is a good option for older adults who need daily assistance but don’t require medical care. There’s on-site emergency medical assistance available and daily assistance with personal care tasks, such as bathing and dressing.

Assisted living residences will often provide amenities for residents like common areas, fitness centers and an arts space. 

  • How to pay: Medicaid, Home and Community Based Services waivers or personal funds
  • Average cost of living: $4,300 per month3
  • Average age: 75+
  • Independence level: Requires personal care

5. In-Home Senior Care

In-home senior care can include a range of services, depending on how much aid you require. These services can be customized for your specific needs, but don’t include serious medical care.

  • How to pay: Medicare, veteran benefits program, state non-Medicaid program or personal funds
  • Average cost of living: $2,037 per month3
  • Average age: 75+
  • Independence level: Requires personal care

6. 55 And Older Community

55 and older communities are for those who enjoy an active lifestyle. These areas, also known as active adult communities, are designed with this age range in mind and provide amenities that are appealing to this age group, including dining, shopping and leisure activities.

  • How to pay: Personal funds, Social Security pensions or supplemental security income
  • Average cost of living: Ranges from $1,500 – $4,000 per month3
  • Average age: 55+
  • Independence level: Highly independent

What Is The Difference Between Senior Living and Senior Housing?

Senior living and senior housing can often be confused but the services provided are different and depend on how much care you require.

  • Senior living: Average residents are 85 years or older. There is around-the-clock care, and both personal care and housekeeping needs are met.
  • Senior housing: Residents are typically retired and don’t require in-home nursing care. They have access to groups, sports and club activities. Residents can live independently in community-style housing.

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Senior Home Care Services

Whether you decide to continue living independently at home or move to an assisted living residence, there are home care service options available that can make daily life easier.

Personal Care

A personal care professional may be needed for those who need help with daily care tasks.

Services may include:

  • Eating
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Oral care
  • Walking assistance
  • Medical appointment transportation

Health Care Professionals

You may need a health care professional to visit your home or care facility.

Services may include:

  • Occupational and speech-language therapy
  • Medical and nursing care
  • Help with maintaining a healthy diet
  • Social work

Assisted Living

If you can’t live independently, assisted living will have care professionals who can assist you during your residency.

Services may include:

  • Housekeeping
  • Planning meals and facility activities
  • Personal care services

End-Of-Life Homecare

This type of home care is for those who wish to stay in the comfort of their home during the end of their life.

Services may include:

  • Nursing care
  • Providing necessary hospital equipment
  • Hospice services
  • Pain management

Homemaking

If you choose to stay at home and live independently, a homemaker can take care of personal tasks you may not be able to do on your own.

Services may include:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Weekly meal planning
  • Housecleaning
  • Laundry
  • Personal care

Senior Housing Steps To Consider

Choosing a senior living community is an important decision, as it can be a significant life transition – not only for you but for your family as well. There are several steps you should consider that’ll help you decide which type of senior living is right for you.

Make A List of Your Needs

Compile a list of your physical and medical needs. This can also include housekeeping and personal needs. This will help you decide which kind of senior housing will successfully meet your required needs.

These needs may include:

  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Laundry
  • Housecleaning
  • Meal prepping

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

Before deciding on a type of senior living, you should consider asking your doctor what they recommend regarding your medical needs. 

  • What level of medical assistance do I need?
  • Am I ready for a senior living community?
  • What steps do I need to do before moving into a senior living community?

Setting A Financial Budget

Different types of senior living and housing are on a financial range. Evaluate what type of care facility or community you can afford, and whether it’ll be short-term or long-term residency.

A good rule of thumb when saving for a comfortable retirement is by using the 4% rule. For example, if you want to live on $60,000 per year in retirement income, you’d need to save $1.5 million to use over the course of roughly 25 years.

Tour The Facilities

Schedule a tour of the senior housing you’re interested in. Get to know what types of care and activities they offer, how well you see yourself living in the housing and what joining the community will be like. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making a decision: 

  • What types of amenities are available?
  • What do the living spaces look like?
  • How much is the monthly fee? With that, what does the payment plan look like?

Read The Housing Contract

Review the housing contract thoroughly once you’ve found a senior housing community that you feel comfortable with. You may want to read the contract with another family member or lawyer to make sure you fully understand the financial details and any other requirements.

How To Find Retirement Bliss

The best benefit of retirement is that you have more time to enjoy life with your loved ones and friends. You’re able to pick up new activities and hobbies to try out, no matter what type of senior housing option you choose. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pick up a new hobby: Pick up a couple of hobbies to fill your time. Hobbies can include painting, gardening and physical activities like bocce ball and golf.
  • Become involved in your community: Choose a community club or partake in weekly events and classes. These are great ways to stay connected and get to know those who live in your community. To find these clubs, look at the local senior center’s website in your area for a list of monthly club meetings and events.
  • Spend time with loved ones: Spend meaningful time with your family and friends when you can. Even a weekly phone call or virtual hangout can help you stay connected. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to.
  • Spend time on yourself: Take time to treat your mental and physical health. Keeping up a healthy diet and getting daily exercise are important for maintaining your health. Light physical exercises can include walking and low-impact yoga.
  • Create a retirement bucket list: Think of all the things you still want to see, do and accomplish. Make them happen to the best of your ability.

Additional Resources

Here’s a list of additional financial programs and organizations that can assist you during this transition of life. 

Whether you’re renting or buying a home in a 55 and older community, or transitioning to assisted living care, take your time evaluating the options available to you. If you live a more active lifestyle, an independent living retirement community or 55 and older community are great options to look into.

If you need both your medical and personal needs met daily, a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living community would be appropriate for your lifestyle. No matter what you choose, use this guide to help you decide on what’s best for you.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.