Housing and Care Options for an Aging Population

November 20th, 2017

Housing for Aging

Planning for ongoing care as we and our loved ones age has become increasingly complex, with multiple options and shifting terminology.


As a person ages, he or she may transition from fully independent through multiple stages of needing assistance, and from living at home to making a move.

Aging-in-place services

For those who choose to stay in their home.

  • Home-care companies provide services such as bathing, dressing, medication management and meals for elders living at home or with family.
  • Adult day services provide all-inclusive day care and medical programs for elders living at home or with family.
  • Trained professionals who can extend a person’s ability to remain at home include a universal design remodeler, Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (to adjust the home to specific needs), an occupational therapist or mobility product expert.
  • Reverse mortgages are a possible source of income, but be sure to get advice from a trained and certified counselor before committing. 

Specialized residential options

Communities that cater to people approximately 50 years of age and older.

  • Active adult community: Provides exterior home and yard maintenance services. These typically require a home purchase and often have an age restriction, while offering resort-like amenities.
  • Independent living retirement community: A retirement community for people who can live independently yet desire some services such as meals and activities.
  • Seniors tax-credit apartment: Designed for seniors’ needs at a lower rent than conventional apartments. Many include van transportation and social activities and can accommodate pets. Leases are for seniors with moderate/modest incomes.
  • Skilled care communities
    • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC): Includes all levels of care, where a resident might enter in an independent stage, living in an apartment or cottage, and later take advantage of a full range of care and services without needing to relocate.
    • Assisted living retirement community: A community that offers some help with daily tasks such as meal prep, dressing, personal hygiene, medication management, etc.
    • Skilled nursing and rehab care: Full-time care delivered in a facility designed for recovery from a hospital treatment or extended-need medical assistance (may be short-term and for many ages).
    • Memory care: An assisted living community that specializes in caring for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These often provide a secure environment that restricts residents from dangerously wandering.

Easing a move

  • A short-term or respite stay provides a chance to try out and get comfortable with a retirement community.
  • If a housing move is involved, SRES Realtors and Senior Move Managers have earned a designation or certification by demonstrating their expertise in working specifically with the unique needs of the elderly.


Whether at home or in a residential facility, the challenges of aging require specialized care.

Long-term care

  • Also called custodial care, long-term care involves nonskilled personal care such as bathing, dressing and eating. Such services can be provided wherever a person resides.
  • Medicare does not pay for long-term (nonskilled) care, whether at home or in assisted living or a nursing home.
  • Long-term care is paid for with private insurance and/or assets. Long-term care insurance helps cover the types of services Medicare doesn’t.
  • If a person’s assets are reduced to a minimum, he or she may qualify for Medicaid, the biggest payer of nursing home care. Protecting assets and still qualifying for Medicaid requires expert advice.

Serious illness and end-of-life care

  • Palliative care: A medical expert team-care approach for people of any age and any stage of a serious illness that can be provided along with curative treatments. Can be provided on outpatient basis or at a long-term-care facility or hospital.
  • Hospice: Provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live and are no longer receiving curative treatments. A Medicare benefit.

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