Living alone can be less expensive than moving to an assisted living facility or other form of seniors’ community, especially if you are independent and in good health. And more and more seniors are choosing to stay at home as long as possible, according to a Harvard University study.
But it has also become more expensive to make the modifications you might need to stay in place – wheelchair ramps, a stair lift or wider doorways, among others. You might need a home health aide or housekeeper, which in Michigan averages $150 a day in 2020. You might have to pay for lawn and snow removal service.
The price of living alone is not always cheaper.
But there are other factors beyond health that could drive the decision to move to a seniors’ community, such as an assisted living facility. Boosting your social life is one, and with an ongoing shortage of home health workers statewide and nationally, you may feel safer in a group setting.
Here are the most typical housing options open to seniors.
Government housing subsidies are available for people with low incomes. Section 8 housing vouchers are available from the federal government for those who meet the financial eligibility requirements. Medicaid will cover long-term care for people who need care at the nursing home level, either in a nursing home or in a community setting like their own home.
Those receiving housing assistance are more likely to have ramps, stepless entrances, grab bars and medical emergency call systems than those of similar incomes living in unsubsidized units.
Check with your local aging agency or local housing office for subsidized housing in your area.
Independent living communities
Independent living communities are designed for seniors who are generally healthy and able to care for themselves. In most cases, residents can communicate with doctors and caregivers on their own, prefer to live among their peers and no longer want to maintain a home.
Self-catering options range from villas to one- and two-bedroom apartments to small studios. Some independent living communities offer the following amenities (some may be chargeable):
• Housekeeping and maintenance services
• Community activities
• Complete kitchens
• 24 hour emergency response
• Transportation services
Some independent living communities have a home health care company on site who will charge for their services.
Assisted living communities
Assisted living communities are designed for people who do not require day-to-day skilled medical care, but may need assistance with activities such as bathing, medication management, dressing, nursing personnel, cooking, food and housekeeping. Many communities offer a variety of assisted living apartment floor plans – private or shared rooms or studios. Under the state’s Assisted Living License, sites are required to provide the following services (some may incur additional charges):
• Housekeeping and laundry services
• Community meals
• Social and recreational activities
• Coordinated trips and tours
• Health checks
• 24-hour emergency care
• Medication management
Some assisted living facilities are licensed by the State of Michigan as a group home for adults or a home for the aged.
Memory Care Units/Centers
While some assisted living buildings have dedicated memory care units, most are part of a nursing home.
People with progressive dementia like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease will eventually need round-the-clock supervision. make sure they don’t wander off.
Other services typically offered in these specialized units include:
• A private or semi-private room
• Three daily meals
• Cognitive and physical therapies
• Exercise activities
• Social activities
• Housekeeping and laundry
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a range of care in one place – from independent living and assisted living options to skilled nursing and memory care.
CCRCs are what they sound like: an older person moves into the continuing care community while still able to live independently. If additional services are needed, the person can easily move within the same community to receive a different level of care. Due to the range of living options under one “roof”, continuing care residents remain part of a single community, often among lifelong friends, as they age and require levels of additional care.
Some communities may also offer additional levels of care, such as rehabilitation services and memory care or dementia care services.
However, the cost of a CCRC is high – an entry fee of $10,000 to $500,000 – and monthly maintenance fees that can range from $200 to over $2,000.
Content reproduced with the kind permission of the Regional Agency on Aging 1-B