Terms, Concepts and Housing Opportunities for Seniors

Senior Living Can Mean Many Different Things Depending on Your Age, Health, Lifestyle and More...

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All About Senior Living Options

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Browsing the following terms and concepts related to retirement housing can help you to think through options for now as well as how your needs might change over time.

Alzheimers Care: While early stage Alzheimers patients may live in a variety of assisted living environments, more advanced cases are best cared for in specialized homes offering Alzheimers care with experience handling argumentative and wandering behaviors.

Adult Day Care: Senior or Adult Day Care is usually a facility where senior patients are dropped off during the day for nursing care and stimulation and socialization.

Activities of Daily Living: Activities of Daily Living – eating, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, getting in and out of bed, moving around the house, etc… -- is a concept used by Long Term Care insurers and providers. Your ability to do these personal care activities is used in determining eligibility for Long Term Care benefits and for assessing suitable housing options.

Active Adult Communities: Also known as Age Restricted Communities

Age Restricted Communities: Age Restricted Communities are housing communities that require residents to be a certain age.

Active Adult Communities might be a gated community, an apartment complex, modular home community, condominiums or other.

Some communities are linked to universities and allow unlimited access to classes. Others offer clubs and social opportunities. Most communities provide access to pools and other leisure activities.

Aging in Place: Aging in place usually refers to the ability to age in your own home and have your evolving needs met in your own home. Many people can continue to live independently at home, others may need in home care or support services like meals, healthcare or transportation in order to continue living at home.

Assisted Living: Assisted living communities provide daily assistance to residents, but not constant care. Residents might be helped with bathing, dressing, taking medication, and meals. Assisted living is a situation somewhere in between independent living and nursing care.

Certified Aging in Place Specialist: Some home remodelers and contractors have been trained on the needs of seniors and can modify homes to enable residents to live more safely.

Congregate Housing: Congregate housing typically means independent living with shared meal service.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC): Continuing Care Retirement Communities are an interesting concept in that they offer different services – independent living, congregate housing, assisted living and skilled nursing. As the resident ages and their needs evolve, they can take advantage of different services within the same community.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities may require buy-in, or an up-front annuity purchase followed by monthly payments covering services, amenities and needed medical. The buy-in may be refundable in part, or not at all.

A very interesting case study of CCRC’s verses more ad hoc care options can be found here. The $500,000 Question.

Downsizing: Downsizing means that you sell your current home to purchase a less expensive home. You can find a smaller house, apartment or condominium. Or -- free from the constraints of your career -- you can move to another less expensive community.

Some retirees even consider retiring abroad.

There are many benefits to downsizing, explore them here.

Foster Care: Foster Care, also known as Board and Care is usually offered in a private residence. It provides a homelike setting with supervision and care for 2 – 10 residents, depending on regulations in each state.

Hospice Care: Hospice Care is designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness. The focus is on comfort and quality of life.

Independent Living: Independent living is similar to aging in place in that you have the ability to live without outside assistance.

In Home Care: In Home Care usually refers to nursing assistance or help with activities of daily living within your own home.

In Home Support Services: Many seniors are able to live independently but appreciate or need additional support. There are a range of services provided to seniors that may be available for payment or publicly funded programs. There are meal service, transportation, housekeeping, and other services.

Nursing Care/Nursing Home: Nursing homes are for seniors who can no longer live independently and need 24 hour nursing care and supervision. It is often used by individuals who are chronically ill and those who need help with MOST activities of daily living – getting out of bed, dressing, bathing, eating, etc…

Relocating Abroad: Retiring in a foreign country is a concept that has gained in popularity. Many retirement communities – geared toward retiring Americans -- exist in exotic locations. Many seniors like the idea of inexpensive housing in a true resort locale.

Resort Living: Age restricted communities that offer resort type activities – pools, golf, tennis, etc… Resort Living is a similar term to Active Adult Communities.

Reverse Mortgages: Reverse Mortgages are surging in popularity.

With a Reverse Home Mortgage, you get all the benefits of selling your house and all the benefits of getting a home equity loan - but you can still live in and retain ownership of your home and you don’t have to pay back the loan. No matter how you structure a Reverse Mortgage, you typically don't pay anything back until you die, sell your home, or permanently move out. And, your ability to secure a Reverse Mortgage is not dependent on your credit history, income level, health or any other factors that might make a home equity loan expensive or problematic.

By converting your home equity into income, a Reverse Mortgage is a way to stay in your home and get cash to use for any purpose. There are no restrictions on how you can use money from a Reverse Mortgage.

Learn more about Reverse Mortgages.

Shared Housing: Seniors can share their home or share the home of someone else. While the roommates may be related, it is not necessary. In some cases, a roommate provides care to the senior in exchange for room and board.

Roommates might also pay rent.

Skilled Nursing Facilities: Also known as nursing homes.

Universal Design: Housing design features and products for homes that make it safer for seniors or residents with a disability.

Additional Resources on Senior Living