Housing & Care Options

At some point in our lives, most of us are going to be faced with this dilemma: should I continue living here, on my own, or should I make a move?  There’s no single right answer for everyone.  Not all options will be appropriate for everyone.  What worked for your best friend or family member may not be the right solution for you.  The decision regarding what’s right for you has to be made by you and by the people in your life who are your support system

There are six main types of housing and care options.  Each one is defined below.  Keep in mind that there are always variations within each type and sometimes a blurring of the lines between them.

Stay at Home
Let’s face it, all things being equal, most of us will elect to stay at home, in our own homes, for as long as possible.  There are a lot of reasons that people choose to make a move from their home to a different type of living community; many of those reasons revolve around the upkeep of the family home.

Thankfully, there are many companies that are perfectly positioned to take over the chores and allow you to remain at home.

  • Professional services such as gardening, handyman and home modifications.  These homeowner chores are easily addressed by hiring someone to come in and do them for you.
  • Chore workers can offer assistance with cooking, cleaning, errands and transportation.
  • Companionship services provide social support and interaction.
  • Home health agencies provide medical care and medical monitoring in your home.
  • Aging & Adult Care can help coordinate services if you and your family are unable to do so.
  • Adult day services provide a place outside the home where you can take part in activities, get social interaction, nutritional support and maybe some basic health monitoring.  For elders living alone or with their families, this option provides safety and security during working hours. And if you are caring for a frail spouse, this option may provide you with some respite care.

Retirement/Independent Living
Independence-wise, this is the option that is the best of both worlds.  You have your own space yet live within the framework of a larger community.  Individual residences can take on many forms here: condominiums, apartments, town homes, cottages, possibly even mobile homes.  Depending on the community, some services like meals or transportation may be offered, and you always have the option of hiring your own in-home care assistance if you need it.  It is also possible that a retirement community will offer assisted living care, making the accommodation for future needs readily available.

From the family’s point-of-view, there’s added comfort knowing that you’re in an environment where there is staff or security on-duty 24-hours a day and where social opportunities abound.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
CCRCs offer the range of care that will allow you to remain in the same community even while your care needs change.  These communities can be large buildings in the middle of town or sprawling suburban campuses.  The key difference  here is the access to the various levels of care as you need them, while being able to remain in your surroundings.

Typically there are entrance fees associated with a CCRC. Be sure to ask about any specific move-in requirements when you make a visit to this type of community.

Assisted Living
In an assisted living community, caregivers provide assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, toileting, medication reminders and help with getting to meals and activities.  Different communities offer different levels of care, so ask questions, particularly about the type of services you need or will need in the future.  When making your selection of a community, be sure to get all your questions answered regarding any services you require, and get their service agreement in writing.

As in a retirement community, each individual typically has an apartment of his or her own.  The apartments may not provide a full kitchen, opting for a kitchenette.  Meals are usually offered in a communal dining room.  Some communities offer tray service to your room if you’re not wanting to, or not feeling up to going to the dining room.

Nursing Homes
Also known as Skilled Nursing Facilities, Transitional Care Units (TCU), or Rehabilitation Facilities.  These communities offer the highest level of care and services.  Nurses provide health care to physically or cognitively impaired individuals, on a short- or long-term basis.  A Transitional Care Unit provides skilled care with a particular emphasis on rehabilitation, usually with the goal of the individual returning to his or her own home.  The support team may include doctors, nurses, physical, occupational or speech therapists.  A TCU is not always its own business; it may exist within a hospital setting or nursing home.

Adult Care Homes
An Adult Care Home (ACH) most closely resembles a single-family home.  A state agency licenses and monitors these types of homes.  Each ACH can care for 2 to 6 individuals; the care staff-to-client ratio is typically 1-to-6 or 2-to-6.  This type of care community is able to offer the most home-like setting, daily interaction between clients, and offers the client a wide range of choices in home styles, from very simple and homey to elegant.

How Do I Know Which is Appropriate?
The answer is found by asking the right questions.  Be prepared though; the questions aren’t always simple.  The questions require a large amount of honesty and some soul-searching.  Are you in need of assistance right now?  Do you foresee needing daily assistance in the near future?  Are you willing to accept the help from non-family members?  Can your family members step in and successfully handle the care you need?  Can you afford the community you’d like?  Have you investigated the different financial options that may be needed to fund your move?  And these are just a few of the questions.  The best option is start your conversation with your family or support system.  Pull in the various “experts” as you need them.