Updated: Oct 16, 2021
One of the most critical choices older adults need to make is where they will live as they age. A variety of factors will go into making that decision.
Do they have an active lifestyle? If their activity level changes, will there be support services available to them? What about location? How much will housing options cost? Should relatives be involved in the decision-making process? Whatever option is chosen, the best choice needs to ensure that the older adult’s health, welfare, legal rights, and financial needs are protected.
Owning a home
Many homeowners hope to stay in the home where they have lived for many years, raising a family and staying close to family and friends. Some may downsize but continue to live in the same area. Benefits include continuing relationships they have made through the years, the privacy offered by owning your own home and being able to count on the home as a future financial resource. Challenges include keeping up with home maintenance or making modifications to be able to still live there comfortably and safely.
Renting a room, apartment, or single-family home can free the older adult of worries of expenses associated with homeownership. Some seniors may be eligible for state or federal rent subsidy programs – another plus. On the list of downsides, there may be restrictions when it comes to owning a pet and a loss of some independence for tenants.
Living in a group setting
Group settings provide housing, a range of in-home support services, and some social activities. Assistance with personal care (bathing, dressing, or eating, for example) or activities related to independent living (housework, preparing meals, or managing money) is offered. Benefits include choosing from a variety of housing types (adult foster homes, assisted living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities, to name a few) as well as providing socializing opportunities. Challenges include a lack of privacy or lack of services should the older adult’s needs change.
Living in a nursing home
Nursing homes, or long-term care facilities, are for those who need 24-hour supervision, providing medical and personal care assistance. Organizations such as the National SeniorCitizen’s Law Center (NSCLC) and the National Citizens’ Coalition for NursingHome Reform (The National Consumer Voice for Long Term Care - formerly NCCNHR) can be used as resources in researching nursing homes.
Source: “Housing Options for Older Adults: A Guide for Making Housing Decisions” produced by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and written by Holly Robinson, associate staff director at the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging.
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