There are a variety of senior housing options, which include assisted living, retirement
communities, nursing facilities, government assisted housing, subsidized or age/income-qualified
housing and shared housing. The names which define the types of facilities can vary
from state to state. This section will highlight and describe the most common terms
used across the U.S.
Always check with individual facilities for specific conditions and services offered.
Make personal visits and check references.
Types of Senior Housing
Adult Family Homes: An Adult
Family Home (AFH) is a residential home licensed to care for up to six elder residents.
All adult family homes provide housing and meals (room and board) and assume general
responsibilities for the safety and care of the residents. What additional services
are offered is different for each home and may include varying levels of assistance
with personal care, nursing care (a nurse available on a full or part-time basis),
and/or assistance with administration of medications. Some AFH’s also provide specialized
care to people living with developmental disabilities, dementia and/or mental illness.
here to learn more.
Assisted Living: Individual
apartments that may have a kitchenette and offer 24-hour on-site staff, group dining
and activity programs. Limited nursing services may be available for an additional
fee. Services may also include housekeeping, transportation, assistance with activities
of daily living (ADL), exercise programs, medication management, laundry and medical
services. Check each facility for exact services.
Click here to learn more.
Independent Living: A residential
location that may or may not provide hospitality or supportive services. Includes
rental-assisted or market-rate apartments or cottages. Residents can choose which
services they want and there may be an additional fee for some services. (Also called
Elderly Housing, Senior Housing or Senior Apartments, Non-profit Age & Income-qualified
Click here to learn more.
Alzheimer's/Dementia Care: A facility that specializes in providing care
for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. To find an Alzheimer's Care center on SNAPforSeniors.com:
Residential Care: Licensed housing in private homes generally for under ten
people, with sleeping areas, common spaces, meals, snacks, laundry, housekeeping,
assistance with ADLs, personal care, 24/7 supervision and planned activities. Homes
with special certifications and licenses provide therapies and skilled nursing services
for situations such as physical frailty, dementia, Alzheimer’s, developmental disabilities,
etc. (Also called Adult Family Homes, Adult Foster Homes, Board and Care Homes.)
To find Residential Care homes on snapforseniors.com:
- When you get your search results, click on the “Specialized Care” heading under
More Search Options and select “Alzheimer’s Disease”.
- Then click the “Search” button again to view those facilities that have indicated
they cater to residents with Alzheimer’s.
- You may want to click “Expand Search Area” to see nearby options.
- Click on the License Type Filter on a search result and refine the results by a
particular license type.
Nursing Care and Rehabilitation:
Facilities licensed to provide custodial care, rehabilitative care (such as physical,
occupational or speech therapy) or specialized care for Alzheimer's patients. Also
may offer social, recreational and spiritual activities. (Commonly referred to as
Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing Facilities or SNF.)
Click here to learn more.
Subsidized or age/income-qualified housing
Government housing assistance is available to eligible low-income and very-low-income
elderly persons 62 years of age and older through the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development's (HUD) three major programs: Public Housing, Housing Choice
Voucher Program, and Section 202. Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher
Program are managed by local public housing authorities. Section 202 housing is
sponsored on a complex-by-complex basis by nonprofit companies.
Continuing Care Retirement Community
(CCRC): Communities offering several levels of assistance, including independent
living, assisted living and nursing home care. Residents move from one setting to
another as needs change, but stay in the same CCRC community. A significant payment
is usually required (called an endowment) prior to admission, as well as monthly
fees. Often there is a lifetime contract written that assures care through the progression
of care needs. (Also called Life Care Community.)
Assessing Your Needs for Senior Housing
It’s important to carefully assess all your needs when choosing senior housing.
Major considerations include:
Cost: What resources do you have to pay for senior housing? You may want
to speak with a financial planner or estate attorney to help you understand and
organize your options.
Location: It’s best to find senior housing that is convenient for relatives
and friends to visit. The more you visit your loved ones, the more secure you are
that they are being cared for properly and are happy. If your loved one has to be
cared for in a different state, try to choose a location that is convenient for
friends or support group members and that is familiar to your loved one.
Care Services: Assess all of the care needs of the person who is moving to
senior housing. Health issues are most important and if the person has special care
needs, such as for Alzheimer's disease, tendency to fall, disabilities, etc., make
certain that the facility you choose is trained in handling those specific situations.
Some facilities require a care evaluation from an assessment nurse.
Room Type: Moving to senior housing is sometimes a difficult adjustment,
so it’s important to try and find the best type of room in a residential home or
apartment-style living in a larger community. Check how many people are sharing
Meals: Try to visit a facility at mealtime. Are the residents provided a
suitable area for eating? How does the food smell? Is the food healthy? Do residents
have input into meal planning or options to eat ethnic or specialty foods? Are healthy
snacks available at all times? Are utensils and serving dishes senior-friendly and
clean? Is mealtime a pleasant experience? Are those who need help with eating cared
for with dignity and respect? If you live nearby and want to bring food in, is it
allowed? Can the residents eat in their rooms?
Activities: Find out what activities, if any, are available for residents.
Are there options? Does the facility organize activities in the community, such
as shopping, movies or visiting a local park? Are there planned exercise times to
keep residents moving and active? Are all residents offered activities at their
level of mobility? Are computers available?
Amenities: Think about the things that would make the potential resident
feel “at home”, such as telephone access, TV in the room, courtyard or outside area,
space to garden, windows that open, temperature control in rooms, pet therapy, music
therapy, outings, “quiet” areas, location in a senior-friendly part of town, housekeeping,
massage therapy, privacy and any other desired amenities that add up to a higher
quality of life.
Transportation: Some residents may need transportation to and from doctor’s
appointments, shopping areas, outside activities such as movies or entertainment
or visits to friends and family. If transportation is required, check to make sure
that it’s available and provided in safe vehicles with drivers who are carefully