In the first phase of senior caregiving, seniors are primarily still living independently but may need extra help with a few things. Those needs are likely to evolve over time, creating a spectrum of care available for different phases as seniors age.
One of the biggest decisions is the same as it was in life before caregiving: choosing where to live based on personal preferences and needs. Options can range from seniors staying in their current homes to finding housing that caters specifically to adults 55 and over.
Computer-savvy individuals should consider using a free online senior care referral service to assist with the search. For example, seniorhomes.com lists the average cost range for senior housing in different states throughout the U.S. When searching for a reputable service, look for positive references to help avoid elder fraud: Do you know someone who’s used the service? Is it accredited with the Better Business Bureau? Does it have high online ratings?
For those who prefer printed options, look for resources like Seniors Blue Book, which is a source for finding and comparing senior housing, health, and home care, and may be found in many local grocery stores. Printed versions exist for larger markets in 15 states, and information on other states may be found on their website.
There are five basic criteria to consider when determining the required level of care, and subsequently, the best place to live:
1. Home Care – Think about the desired level of maintenance responsibilities, such as the difference between having a home and an apartment (e.g., lawn care, housekeeping, having to make or schedule any repairs).
2. Personal Care – Is any help needed with meals? What about personal hygiene (e.g., bathing, dressing, laundry)?
3. Health Care – Is immediate access to healthcare services required? For example, is medication management or health monitoring needed?
4. Finances – What are the associated housing costs? For example, homes come with property taxes, maintenance costs, and possibly HOA fees. What will insurance cover (e.g., Medicare, Medigap, long term care insurance) for any eligible expenses?
5. Safety – Is transportation needed? Does the place of residence provide a safe environment (e.g., grab bars in the bathroom/shower/tub, wheelchair accessibility, no fall hazards like rugs)? Is there a way to get help in the event of a fall, such as an emergency call service?
Once you’ve determined the necessary level of care, you’ll have a better idea of the options available to meet those needs. It’s important to note that many of the care needs previously mentioned can likely be met in the home through a variety of service providers and/or home modifications. However, seniors may desire the amenities, activities, and social access that senior communities provide. Some retirement communities even offer a continuum of care in different areas of one location, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care.
It’s important to note that the cost of independent living options for seniors can vary dramatically, and often depends on geographic location, amenities, and the individual community, as well as other variables such as available floor plans. As mentioned earlier, these costs may be explored through online or printed resources, both of which can help you assess the average costs for your area.
Things to Consider:
- Seniors who are primarily living independently have a wide range of lifestyle options available to them.
- One of the most important decisions seniors face at this stage is choosing where to live.
- Align needs, preferences, and affordability with senior housing options and available care.
1 “10,000 Boomers Turn 65 Every Day. Can Medicare and Social Security Handle It?” The Fiscal Times, May 2017.
2 “Adult caregiving often seen as very meaningful by those who do it,” Pew Research Center, November 2018.
3 “What is Independent Living?” A Place for Mom, accessed online January 8, 2019.
4 “What are 55+ Senior Apartments?” A Place for Mom, accessed online January 8, 2019.
5 “What is a Residential Care Home?” A Place for Mom, accessed online January 8, 2019.
6 “What is Home Care?” A Place for Mom, accessed online January 8, 2019.
7 “What is Respite Care?” A Place for Mom, accessed online January 8, 2019.