Elders and Housing: Where's the Best Place to Live?

Nov 21, 2022 11:44:00 AM

As we age, our daily needs change. This is especially true after retirement, and it’s the reason why seniors often make a post-retirement housing plan. There are a variety of options for elder housing and care. Whether you’re making plans for yourself or helping out an older family member, it’s important to understand what’s available and what it will cost.

(Psst: you can also check out the HUECU blog for more information on elders and finance, including money management tips and budgeting for long-term care.)

Home Care

Many seniors prefer to remain in their current home for as long as possible. Thanks to home care, it’s possible to stay put while also receiving assistance. Home health aides can be hired to drop by a certain number of times throughout the week and help with personal care such as bathing and dressing; cleaning and other housekeeping work; meal preparation; medication management; and assistance with medical equipment such as an oxygen machine. In Massachusetts, expect to pay around $25 per hour for a home health aide. Costs will be higher for people who need skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, or around-the-clock care.

Independent Senior Living

An independent senior community is designer for older people who can largely look after their own needs, but would prefer fewer day-to-day responsibilities as they age. Independent senior living usually costs around $2,500 per month, which includes a private apartment, some housekeeping, access to on-site amenities such as a gym and library, and regular activities to socialize with other residents. For meals, seniors can choose to eat at the community dining room or prepare food in their own kitchen. Within an independent living setup, residents are usually not paying for medical care or full-time custodial care.

Assisted Living

The move from independent living to assisted living occurs when a senior needs additional help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and household chores. Along with this, assisted living continues to offer seniors the same amenities as independent living, including meals and social events. Transportation to medical appointments or recreational activities may also be covered. Monthly fees vary widely depending on the facility and the level of care needed. As a baseline for people in Massachusetts, expect monthly fees of around $3,500 to $7,500 for an assisted living setup, and add another $2,000 per month if memory care is required for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Nursing Home

For seniors in need of around-the-clock care, a skilled nursing home is often the best option. Here, residents have licensed healthcare professionals available 24/7 to offer consistent medical and housekeeping needs. Going to a nursing home may or may not be a permanent move: seniors sometimes head to a nursing home to recover from an injury or acute illness, then return to their former housing situation when recovered. The average cost of a nursing home runs at around $7,000 per month, with residents generally staying in a shared room. Single, private rooms may be available for a higher cost.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

A continuing care retirement community, or CCRC, is a popular choice for seniors. The CCRC offers a variety of living options within one housing community, so that residents can more easily shift their housing to meet changing lifestyle and medical needs. They might start out in the CCRC’s independent living setup, add on assisted living services later on, and possibly make use of nursing home facilities as well. Most CCRC facilities also offer memory care. Do be aware that CCRCs often require a long-term contract and ask for a buy-in fee, to guarantee continued service in the same location.

Tags: Elder Care