Senior Housing Options + Which Is Best For Your Family

daughter chooses senior housing option for mother

Senior health and wellbeing directly correlate to safety, security, and holistic nourishment – wherever a senior calls Home. Solid meals, support with daily tasks, social engagement, medication reminders, regular exercise – all are required for seniors to age as independently and gracefully as possible.

For most, this requires outside support via in-home care or a physical move and transition into senior housing options.

Read, 5 Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help, to evaluate whether it is time to create a long-term senior care plan involving support with daily tasks and activities.

6 Common Senior Housing Options

The following are six of the most common senior housing options for those requiring additional support. We’ve provided brief descriptions of each to help your family determine which one is best for your senior loved one and the participating family/friend support network.

1. Using Customized, In-Home Care As Needed

The option of hiring a home care agency, utilizing licensed caregivers who provide personalized and tailored support at home, is becoming one of the most popular options to help seniors age independently – and safely.

First and foremost, bringing professional caregivers into the home as needed prevents seniors from the traumatic transition of leaving a home they love, the bulk of their belongings, and their neighborhood/community to move somewhere new.

For many, this move can mean having to say farewell to beloved pets, depending on the size and rules at the prospective housing option(s), which can be a tremendous emotional blow. Remaining at home alleviates that stress while providing necessary care, comfort, and continuity.

In-home care is customized as needed, beginning with occasional companionship, grocery shopping/meal prep, and transportation support, and blossoming into more hours/services as needed.

The ability to scale visits and their duration, beginning with just once-a-week or a few-times-per-week to more full-time care, later on, makes in-home care one of the most affordable senior care options.

If you’re interested in learning more about bringing care into the home, visit:

2. Active Adult Communities

Active adult communities come in many forms, often resembling any other suburban neighborhood – a combination of houses, condominiums, and/or apartment buildings.

While their intentional design is for seniors 55+ and includes community centers, a restaurant or two, a clubhouse or golf course, senior exercise center, etc., senior residents should be completely independent. If/when additional care is required, you would need to hire caregivers on your own.

If you’ve already noticed signs that your parent(s) needs support to remain independent in his/her home, active adult communities are not the right “next step.” If, however, your parents are looking for a community that is quiet and more specifically geared to their needs and interests, an active adult community may be a good solution.

3. Independent Living Communities

These communities are similar to active adult communities in that seniors buy or rent their housing units – most often condo, apartment, or studio-type spaces. Also referred to as “retirement communities” or “retirement homes,” independent living communities offer more in-home services than their active adult community counterparts.

Additional, fee-based services may include:

  • Meals
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry services
  • Transportation

Each community is structured differently, so service options vary. However, most do not provide services related to a senior’s daily tasks (aka, in-home care) such as bathing and grooming, toileting, getting dressed, or medication reminders.

Independent living communities are ideal for seniors without any signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s – and who are largely self-sufficient – but prefer to live socially with others and appreciate the meal support via community dining options.

4. Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living communities are designed similarly to independent living communities but they offer more direct, resident-specific home care services. The costs associated with moving into an assisted living community are notably higher than other options for that reason.

Many assisted living communities include memory care-specific buildings or wings. This allows residents to migrate from more independent living quarters to memory care units as needed.

Assisted living can be a good option for couples at varying levels of need, allowing them to live in the same community and spend their days together while offering increased support for the partner with increased care needs.

5. Continuing Care Communities

Continuing care communities are also popular options for seniors, especially those who planned proactively and are using the community as part of a long-term, senior care plan. Like assisted living communities, continuing care communities are good options for couples who require different levels of care – including skilled nursing care.

Designed and built in a campus-like format, there are different “neighborhoods” or buildings that offer varying levels of assistance and care. Some buildings are designated for completely independent seniors, others provide some level of assistance, and some may be entirely devoted to memory or nursing home-style care.

6. Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, also called extended care or skilled nursing facilities, are designed for seniors with specific medical and/or memory care needs.

Typically, residents live in rooms with other resident patients (although higher-end facilities offer private rooms for a notably higher cost), and all patients/residents have access to skilled medical care from registered nurses and certified nurse assistants (CNAs), 24/7.

Sometimes seniors stay in skilled nursing facilities for a short duration, recovering from a surgical procedure, a fall, or a previous hospital stay; others are long-term or permanent residents.

Often, Medicare or Medicaid covers all or a portion of the costs for nursing home stays.

Choosing Among Senior Housing Options

Taking time to review this information with family and friends, scheduling in-home assessments with home caregiving agencies, and touring residential options is the best way to determine which senior housing option is right for your family.

Learn More About Home Care