Housing Options for Older Adults

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  • 0:01 Choosing a New Home
  • 1:00 Levels of Support
  • 3:33 Factors Affecting Selection
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine has an M.A. in American Studies. She is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

In this lesson, we will discuss where a person can choose to live as their needs change in their older years. We will look at the options available and the factors that influence a person's decision.

Choosing a New Home

Dana is an 85-year old woman who has a visual impairment. Since her partner died last year, she's been lonely in her current home and wants to be around other people, even though her daughter drops in each evening to check on her. Dana is having trouble paying her mortgage.

Dana's neighbor, Mason, is not struggling financially but he knows it's time to move to a different housing situation. Also 85 years old, he has been living alone in his own home for many years, but he's becoming more concerned about bathing and dressing alone. He often forgets to take his medication too, and his doctor has noticed this affecting his health.

Down the road from Mason and Dana is 67-year old Barbara, who has had a stroke and may need significant medical care for the rest of her life. She also needs a new housing situation that provides the right level of support.

In this lesson, we look at the housing choices available to older adults like Dana, Mason, and Barbara, and what factors into their decision to choose one type of environment over another.

Levels of Support

For a person like Dana, who is having financial challenges but is still highly independent, public housing may be a good option. Through a public housing program, Dana's rent is subsidized by the government, so that she will pay less each month on an apartment. She will need to qualify for this subsidy based on financial criteria. Her age and disability will also improve Dana's likelihood of qualifying for public housing.

Since Dana misses social interaction, she may not be happy completely on her own anymore. Her family has offered to help her pay for day care, a program where she can participate in recreational and social activities, as well as meals during daytime hours while her daughter is at work. Medical day care and Alzheimer's day care are variations on this option, offering intensive support for those who need it.

Dana can also consider congregate housing. In one variation of this environment, Dana may be able to continue to have her own private apartment, but she will share a common space with a small group of older adults. She will have access to in-home support when needed for activities of daily living such as grocery shopping, meals and housework.

For a man like Mason, who needs more than help with groceries and meals, adult foster care may be a better fit. This will provide him with a family-like environment with more in-home support than the options that Dana is considering. Since there are several variations on this model of care, there may be different names for the services available.

Both Mason and Dana would be candidates to utilize an assisted living facility, in which they have their own apartment in a larger community of people but have a shared living space and in-home services.

What about Barbara, who had a stroke and needs more extensive medical support? She will require nursing home care, where she receives intensive care and nursing supervision 24 hours a day. This housing situation is also known as a long-term care facility.

If Barbara recovers over time enough to take care of many of her needs herself, she may also be a good fit for a continuing care retirement community or CCRC. These communities offer housing, nursing care and support that meet a range of needs. A CCRC may also be a fit for Mason and Dana because this option is designed to allow many different levels of care in one general location. For instance, if Mason's health problems get worse, he may move from an assisting living apartment to a more intensive environment, and perhaps even to a nursing home, all within the same community.

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