Over the last decade, the options for senior housing have broadened as the older population has expanded, and more attention and resources have been redirected towards elder services.
Whether you’re considering housing alternatives in the near term, or planning ahead with an eye on possible future needs, it makes good sense to become familiar with the range of senior living arrangements that are available.
While most people hope to be able to remain in their own home as they grow older (see Why Move? How a Reverse Mortgages Can Help You “Age In Place”/Part 1), there may come a time when one partner needs more support. Of course, the good news is that, if a couple previously opted to remain in their home and initiated a reverse mortgage, the reverse mortgage will stay in effect as long as one member of the couple continues to live there.
The scope of choices for senior housing and residential care includes:
- Villages. The phrase “it takes a village” once applied to raising children; with the explosion of the mature population, it’s the newest concept for the other end of the life spectrum. Villages enable seniors to remain in their own homes with access to specialized programs and services, such as household help or transportation, for an annual fee. You can learn more from the Village to Village Network, which is implementing this concept nationwide.
- Independent Living: Also known as a retirement community or senior housing, Independent Living refers to a residence in a community of seniors who dwell in small, easy-to-maintain, private apartments or houses within a cluster. The minimum age used to be 62; now “active adult communities” often welcome new residents at 55, when many people are still working. Typically, independent living communities provide assistance with outside maintenance, but no onsite medical care. Residents in both Villages and Independent Living communities may be able to qualify for a reverse mortgage if they have sufficient equity in their home.
- Assisted Living: Assisted Living refers to a residential facility for people who need some ongoing help, such as with medication reminders or personal care. While there is daily contact with supervisory staff, medical care in an Assisted Living facility is minimal.
Nursing Home (Skilled Nursing Facility): People requiring ongoing medical care (after a hospitalization, for example) often move to a nursing home. This does not necessarily mean a permanent decision to leave one’s primary residence, however. One 96-year-old woman needed 24-hour care after she fell and broke her hip, and was placed in a skilled nursing facility once she left the hospital. When she was able to return home, she hired a full-time attendant. Since her time away from home was under one year, she retained her reverse mortgage with no penalties.
In Part 3 we’ll look at services that can help seniors remain at home as they age.
This article recently appeared in ReverseMortgageInfo.