Senior Housing

Finding the right type of senior housing for a loved one can be overwhelming and frustrating.  Depending on your loved one’s location, the options can be numerous or very limited.

The first step is understanding what types of options may be available and understanding what those options can provide.  Click on the link for each care type to get a more in-depth explanation of what each option provides.

Senior Housing Options Defined

In Home Care – In-Home Care or Private Caregiving is a widely used option to help keep people in their own homes or with family when care needs arise.

Home-Health Care- Home Health Care refers to the skilled side of home services provided by Medicare.  Home Health includes services like Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-language pathology (therapy) Services, Medical Social Work, wound care, IV or nutrition therapy, and Injections that can all be provided in the home with orders from a physician.

Adult Day Centers– Adult Day Centers (also known as; Adult Day Services, Adult Day Care, and Adult Day Care Centers) can be a welcome respite for families and spouses caring for a loved one.  These facilities may provide meals, activities, transportation, and hands-on care for those needing assistance with activities of daily living.

Retirement Living- Independent or Retirement Living Communities are most appropriate for those who can manage their health care needs on their own or with assistance from family or private caregivers in an apartment type setting. Independent Living does not offer health care services or assistance but may offer a monthly meal plan, housekeeping, social activities, and transportation.

Assisted Living– Assisted Living Communities (ALF) provide a structured setting for people with a variety of care needs in an apartment type setting.  The needs of people who live in an Assisted Living Community range from independent to needing assistance with all Activities of Daily Living(ADL’s).

Adult Care Homes– Adult Care Homes (ACH) (also known as Adult Foster Care, or Adult Family Homes) are located in residential areas throughout many metro cities in the United States.  You may not even recognize an Adult Care Home in your neighborhood unless there is signage for advertising.

Dementia Care- Dementia Care, Memory Care, and Alzheimer’s Care communities are licensed and designed specifically for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. These secure, specialized units offer services and structure specially designed to accommodate those with various dementia diagnosis.

Nursing Homes– Traditional Nursing Homes are much different today than the dreaded institution of long ago.  Even the term “nursing home” is being phased out as these facilities are being defined by one of two categories; Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) and Intermediate Care Facility (ICF).  Many of these facilities offer both levels of care under the same roof.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities- Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also known as CCRC’s, offer a continuum of care within one community or campus.  CCRC’s offer the security of an “until end of life” guarantee of housing, activities, and an increase in levels of care as needs change for members.  CCRC’s contain Independent Living options (apartments, or single level homes), Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing Facility services.  Some also offer Memory or Dementia Care units.  CCRC’s also come with a price.

6 Signs It Might Be Time for Senior Housing

The decision to move into senior housing is a significant decision, for both seniors and their caregivers alike. As the older adult in your life begins to struggle more with the tasks of daily living, it’s natural to start asking the question, is it time for senior housing?

One of the most challenging parts of making the decision is bringing it up with your loved one. It’s understandable that most older adults don’t want to leave their homes, and approaching the subject gently is important.

Let your loved one know about your concerns for their welfare and ask them about their daily experiences so you can discuss the best options together.

No one wants to until a crisis before making a decision, but knowing when to broach the subject can be difficult, too. Here are some signs that it might be time to start thinking about senior housing options.

#1. Increasing Worries About Safety in the Home

Is your loved one more prone to falls these days? Perhaps there have been multiple ER trips, or even hospital stays. Your loved one or another caregiver or friend might have mentioned accidents such as minor burns or slips, cooking-related accidents, or other small but still worrying mishaps.

You might also be starting to worry about home challenges such as steep or winding stairs, high-sided tubs, uneven patios or too many sharp edges and corners on the furniture.

If it seems like home is less and less of a safe place, it could be time to think about moving to senior housing.

#2. Advancing Memory Impairment

Forgetfulness can be dangerous for seniors. Someone suffering from impaired cognition can easily leave a stove or freestanding heater unattended or let a bath or sink overflow.

Be wise to the signs of memory impairment such as forgetfulness, repeating the same information, seeming lost or confused, or even getting disoriented and wandering out of the home.

When you notice advancing signs of memory impairment, it’s time to have a discussion with your loved one and others in their immediate circle. Don’t wait to have this conversation until it’s too late.

These warning signs might tell you that it's time for senior housing and your loved one would be safe and cared for.

#3. Problems With Personal Care

Personal care can be difficult for seniors who are struggling with memory loss or physical problems such as dizziness, fatigue or mobility difficulties. Older adults may also be frightened of slipping or falling on bathroom tiles or have difficulty negotiating the sides of the bath tub.

Seniors who have a regular in-home personal care assistant might start needing increased personal care hours.

If you notice signs of neglected hygiene, such as being unwashed or unkempt, it’s time to find out how things are with your loved one, and whether they might be safer and more comfortable in a senior housing community setting.

#4. Neglected Household and Finances

How are things in your loved one’s home? Signs of neglect around the house are a telltale sign that someone is struggling at home.

You might notice trash cans left to overflow, increased amounts of dust or dirt around the home, mold, grime, or piles of dishes in the sink. You might also notice a lot of general clutter such as unfolded laundry or paperwork left unattended.

Your loved one might also start neglecting their finances. You might notice reminder notices lying around or see that they have left mail untouched in piles, or perhaps even outside in the mailbox.

Talk to your loved one about your concern for protecting them at home and their finances to assess whether daily tasks are getting to be too much for them.

#5. Increased Reliance On Loved Ones

Friends and family are generally happy to help out a loved one in need, but if the need for help is steadily increasing, that too can be a sign that it’s time to consider senior housing.

Seniors who live with a partner might start relying more and more heavily on their healthier spouse, which puts a lot of strain on the healthier partner.

#6. Becoming Isolated At Home

Staying social is important for us as we age. Having a local community of friends and plenty of things to do can help seniors stay active and even ward off the depression and lack of motivation that comes with social isolation.

Senior housing communities provide residents with opportunities to socialize and try out hobbies. For those who are becoming too isolated living at home, this can be a real boon.

Floating the idea that it’s time for senior housing isn’t easy. However, if you notice one or more of these signs, it’s a good idea to start the conversation with your loved one.

Sometimes a move to senior housing is the best way to keep your loved one safe and happy and increase the quality of their later years.

Senior Housing Alternatives

These days, a person looking for senior housing – whether for independent, assisted living, adult care home or a long term nursing facility – has more options than ever before, and there’s no reason to think that the growth will stop any time soon. Among the reasons for this growth are the following:

  • Simply put, the senior population is exploding. After all, the Baby Boomer generation got its name for a reason. It’s also true that improved healthcare and a better understanding of diet and exercise are contributing to the nation’s longevity.
  • It is already proving impossible for the eldercare housing industry to construct (or convert) enough brick and mortar structures into senior housing. That’s not to mention the practical problems in finding and training sufficient staff.
  • Today’s seniors are also becoming more of an economic force than ever before. This makes them of special interest to anyone involved in any branch of the eldercare industry, especially housing.
  • As numerous studies have shown, retirees contribute significantly more to a given community than they take away. Not only do they spend money, but they may also do volunteer work, making them attractive tenants.

Growing demand for alternative senior housing

Few seniors have ever been thrilled at the idea of moving into anything that could be described as a “facility.” “Aging in place,” i.e. continuing to live in the home of one’s own choosing, has generally been seen as the ideal. Now that retirees have the sheer numbers and the money, they have gained leverage and are beginning to wield it.

The 2018 Alternative Senior Housing Roundup

Innovative Alternative Housing for Retirees


According to, this approach to independent living is “an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space.” Each of the community members is financially independent, but they share responsibility for running the neighborhood and are all engaged in decision-making.

There is often a common space – a separate house or apartment that includes a kitchen, laundry facilities, dining room and more – where the residents could meet to share meals or discuss community issues. Sociability and shared community responsibilities characterize this arrangement, and it frequently has a strong ecological (eco-housing) ethos.

Green Housing

The term, coined by age care specialist Bill Thomas some 16 years ago, refers to a new model of nursing home or memory care unit that is anything but a warehouse. Instead, each Green House allows only a few residents, who share a home-like atmosphere, hindered by as few restrictions as practicable.

As a result, the residents get the personal attention they each need while reducing the stress for their healthcare providers. Ultimately, a happier and healthier atmosphere is generated, and all feel respected.

Leisure (or Lifestyle) Oriented Retirement Communities (LORC)

This type of senior housing has existed for several decades and may overlap with the category of Niche Senior Retirement Communities listed below.


These communities are a form of homelike residential/assisted living care. As the name suggests, these are small communities that are suitable for those who wish to avoid a larger, more crowded assisted living facility. This would also be an appropriate choice for a resident whose personality or medical condition requires special attention.

Multi-gen Housing

This type of living situation involves a minimum of three generations of family members all living under the same roof or on the same property. As of 2012, 18.1% of Americans, approximately 57 million people, were sharing a home with family and those numbers seem to be on the rise. Historically, this style of housing is achieved when

(a) the living space in the main house that is augmented by adding on or converting existing space,

(b) an “in-law” apartment added over the garage, or

(c) a separate tiny home has been built on the property.

The current demand for more multi-gen housing, though, has inspired innovations by businesses like NextGen by Lennar and the Toll Brothers. Other related terms to search for in your community are Adult Accessory Units, Accessory Dwelling Units, Accessory Units, In-law Units, Multi-gen Dwelling, Rolled-out Casitas, and Tiny Houses.

Niche Senior Retirement Communities

This type of senior housing consists of a niche community composed of seniors, or sometimes a broader age range. The members occupy separate or attached homes or even an apartment building. The binding factor is a shared interest or trait. It could be birdwatching or carpentry, music or cooking, sexual orientation or shared religion, golfing or bridge – you name it and it may already exist or is simply waiting for someone to initiate it.

The amount of assistance available for seniors will vary from one community to another, though generally, once one loses one’s mobility or develops a serious condition, that person will need to move to a place that offers the appropriate medical care.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC)

Dr. Michael Hunt of the University of Wisconsin-Madison coined the term NORC in 1984. To qualify, a community must contain at least 40% of residents who are 60+ years of age. All of them must still live in their own homes, and not require home nursing treatment. At the very best, this type of senior housing breeds camaraderie, activity, and positive social interaction that benefits all.

Tiny Houses

See Multi-gen Housing.

University-Based Retirement Communities (UBRC)

More college and university campuses are creating and offering housing for seniors, ranging from independent to assisted living. This is often an attempt to shore up income due to inconsistent enrollment and budgeting cuts.

Depending on the campus, seniors might have separate housing or share an apartment building with college students. Enticements include free or discounted classes, access to first-rate medical care, and a vibrant, stimulating atmosphere.

Village Movement

This type of senior housing is another means of achieving aging in place for retirees, while also positively impacting their neighbors. Neighbors form a village when they agree to take on the responsibility of assessing, coordinating and ultimately delivering the necessary services to each member of the village.

These include medical, home repair, grocery shopping, pet walking, and so on. A board of directors, chosen from the village, manage the non-profit organization. Each member pays membership fees. These are based on how many services that person is using and go back into running the village.

Villages make it possible for a senior to remain in their own home. Furthermore, this approach relies heavily on volunteerism and seems to engender a sense of community, drawing all involved closer. There are reportedly more than 200 villages in the United States today. However, it is still too new a model to pronounce a success.

Despite having the support of one’s community, older adults may eventually have no choice but to leave their home. However, the inclusions of Green Housing and Micro-communities above proves that it’s not only Independent Living and Assisted Living that continues to evolve in the senior housing sector. And, if a kinder and deeper understanding between the generations should emerge along with these new communities, then so much the better.

Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here


  1. I own an acre in the City of Chelsea, Michigan. It is adjacent to duplex zoning, residential and adjoins a senior care home. My husband and I are 86 and 76. We love being in our home. However, senior co-housing with other like-minded friends might be intriguing. Hubby won’t like the idea of new construction, but I find it quite exciting. How do I learn more?
  2. It’s interesting that you mentioned piles of dishes in the sink is a sign of somebody struggling because my grandma has been having a hard time doing them for a while. I’ve been coming over on the weekends to help her out with her chores. It might be time to get her some help.
  3. It’s helpful to consider that the house looking like it’s not getting maintained anymore suggests that they’re starting to struggle to live at home and might need some sort of additional care. My mother has definitely been lonely since my father passed away last year, but we’ve noticed the house is increasingly in disrepair when we visit. Maybe we should talk with her about considering other options to help make sure she’s taken care of.
    1. Hi Oscar, Yes, it can be lonely for your mom, especially now that your dad has passed away. Start by having a casual conversation with your mom and find out what her desires are. Chances are, if you’re beginning to think about her living situation, she’s already been thinking about it. Ask her what she wants to do. There are options out there. Everything from bringing in-home care (non-medical) into the home, can help someone who wants to stay in their home. The caregivers will perform light housekeeping duties, such as cooking, light housekeeping, companionship, driving your mom to and from appointments, shopping etc. There are also other living options such as independent living, assisted living etc… These can range in cost from $25.00 per hour (in home care) and perhaps around $3,000 per month or more for assisted living (large buildings or small 6 bed residential homes). If you need some ideas as to how to begin the conversation or to know your options, you can contact a senior living advisor in your area. I am a Senior Living Advisor in the Greater Los Angeles area, and am happy to help.
  4. Hello….I am a 71yo female, retired teacher…looking in San Fernando Valley (Chatsworth) Calif….I am looking for a small situation and I am independent and drive…something like small shares I have heard of…I was physically ill and now healthy but have lived in an assisted for almost 3 years…I am not sure where to look or turn. Thanks for any assistance.
    1. Hello Nancy, You might try speaking with a few Home Healthcare agencies to talk about your health and medical concerns first. Try to find a ” Geriatric Care Manager” this is their specialty. Also, talk with a few Certified Financial Planners if it’s appropriate so they can help determine when or if you don’t outlive your assets based on your desired lifestyle.
  5. Dude! Awesome stuff. Please keep writing more things like this. I really like the fact you went so in depth on this and really explored the topic as much as you did. I read a lot of blogs but usually, it’s pretty shallow content. Thanks for upping the game here!
  6. My father in law is 87 and lives at home alone. He is relatively healthy. Takes no mediations but he has had bladder cancer and went through chemo and radiation a year and a 1/2 ago. Since then he is tired alit, has no energy and has had a few times where he gets confused or dizzy. He doesn’t drive anymore and relies on 2 of his sons to help him with his needs. Grocerys cleaning etc… 1 son is only 30 mins away but has his own business and a family and doesn’t have time to help alit. The 2nd son lives 1 1/2 hrs away, he goes atleast once a week now but that will soon change when he goes back to work. The dad wants to stay in his own home and wants nothing to do with living anywhere else. 1 son even offered to put a mobile home for him on his property and dad said no. The main problem here is that he lives in the country far out of town and the closest town doesn’t have any assisted living housing or even home Healthcare or any type of assistance period. And because he’s in good health Medicare won’t even talk to us. So how do you talk to them about getting assistance but more so where do you turn for that assistance when the person lives out so far in the middle of nowhere? We’re so worried something will happen and no one will find him for days. We got him a medical alert system but getting him to wear it has become an issue too. What can we do?
  7. I wish there was a way to figure out which options are the most inexpensive. I’ve been researching this and talking to people about it for 15 years. I was living in a wheelchair in a storage shed for three years. Oh my goodness. It was so bizarre, I had been shot seven times by my ex-husband and I was in a resting home and the state shut that Resthome down and I guess didn’t give them enough time to put us somewhere else. I have an apartment now but every day I get more and more confused and behind. Im on permanent disability.
  8. We offer an extensive range of non-medical services that can be utilized on a short term or long term basis. We are flexible and have the ability to customize a plan of care to suit the consumer’s exact needs. We provide services to individuals who are seniors and disabled. Contact us if you’re looking in Detroit
  9. I am a Supervising Case Manager for a Single Mens Shelter. Some of my clients have mental health and some have medical issues, they are not able to live alone but are suitable to assisted living, they are not seniors (late 50’s) also most have SSI or SSD.
    1. How would I find a place like where you work in my area? I also have a son with mental health problems. Just needs assisted living. This article was good tho for understanding the diff. housing for my mother.
  10. I wanted to thank you for helping me learn about some different senior housing options. I didn’t know that Assisted Living Communities can help give a structured setting for the needs of a variety of people. This seems incredibly important especially if the care needs to be specialized based on a person’s condition.
  11. I would like to see The Senior List mention housing for seniors that are mostly healthy and do not need medical assistance but prefer neighbors of 55+ ages. Communities such as manufactured 55+ and intentional communities are what I have in mind.
  12. I never knew that there are some senior living areas that can have specific care for people with Alzheimer’s. My mother has been having some trouble remembering some small things around the house, and we are concerned that she won’t be able to live on her own. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and get my mom to an Alzheimer’s senior home.
    1. Check with a local Senior Housing Referral agency in you area. We know the in’s and out’s of all the senior living communities within our geographic local
    2. Hi Mr. Murphy, What area are you located in. I am a Senior Living Specialist and have been helping Senors downsize, or find a Retirement Community that fits their needs. Let me know if your in the Miami/Broward area, as I am always happy to help.
  13. One option I don’t see on this list is one that had to be in place long before a person needs help with Activities of Daily Living. It’s possible (some research beginning to happen) that having a home-mate, in other words not living alone, may prolong health. We do know that loneliness leads to all sorts of physical and emotional problems. And no one want to admit to being lonely – somehow that’s shameful. We are advocating for people to share housing. We are a 501(c)(3) working on promoting this idea. We also have a site aimed at individuals to teach them how to do this!
    1. @Annamarie, The concept of older adults sharing a home is on the rise. As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, working with people mostly over the age of 65, I have come across people who want to do exactly that. The problem I have noticed is the homes are not built with their needs in mind, so they struggle to find the right home to share. There is a community out west that is building with this in mind but not hear in the south to my knowledge. I would love to know more about your 501(c)(3). And what is your website.
  14. Thanks for the wonderful article detailing the differences between senior housings. I’m very interested in the assisted living part. Since there they provide a structured setting for people with a variety of care needs in an apartment type setting. The needs of people who live in an Assisted Living Community range from independent to needing assistance with all Activities of Daily Living. It seems to be the perfect combination of a health care facility while being familiar with its apartment theme. I’ll try looking into one and see if my father would be happy there.
  15. I appreciate you helping me learn more about the senior housing options. It’s good to know that assisted living provides a structured setting for people with a variety of care needs. This is a highly considerable option for my parents.
  16. Thanks for the list of the great options for senior living. It seems like assisted living would be a good choice, since it’s like an apartment. My dad needs to be moved out of his home, but he still wants some independence.
  17. It’s nice to know that there are a lot of ways my mother could live. Personally, I’d love her to be “in-home care” or if needed “assisted living”. It’s ultimately her choice, but I would want my mom to be near her grandchildren. Thanks for the great article! I’ll be sure to read more into this.
  18. Thank you for explaining the different types of senior housing that are available. I especially appreciate your comments on the services available for assisted living. It is good to know that it is still apartment style housing. I feel this still provides a feel of independence, which I feel is very necessary for elderly parents. I will keep these in mind as I search for senior housing in my area!
  19. Thanks for your comment about how seniors could live in independent living communities if they can cover their own health care, or if they have help from family. I didn’t know that social activities were provided in these housing situations. My grandmother is a senior citizen, and we are considering senior independent living communities for her.
  20. That seems valuable that ACH’s are located in residential areas. You might be able to find a place relatively close to your residence. It’s really important to our family to share family time, and a place like that could work for us. We’ve been trying to take care of grandma, but it’s so hard between work and kids.
  21. I didn’t know that there are so many different options for senior living and care. It makes sense that there need to be different options, though, because not all seniors need the same amount of care. My mom is having a hard time living on her own with all of her heart issues and I think it could be time for her to move into a senior living community, just so she has the care and help that she needs.
  22. Can no longer live independently but am not ready for an expensive senior-care facility or assistant living? Buy out half of my manufactured home in beautiful and coastal Oceanside, Ca at a very low cost and receive me as your personal assistant. You will be independent and have fun. My mobile home park has a pool and jacuzzi and a beautiful lake to enjoy. You will have your own private bedroom and bath, laundry, cooking, and cleaning services and transportation. I am a public school teacher with a Master’s and have various government background clearances. I am also a certified yoga instructor and massage therapist. Email for more information. Lynn
    1. I want to relocate to California for its’ climate and other opportunities. I am a disabled former Scientist/Chemist who seeks entry into the Cannabis Industry. Tennessee is too far away from progress, and I am too old to wait! Please offer more information on this rental. Thanks.
    2. sounds like heaven to me…please give me more I am an artist , had a massage practice for 15 years,ex teacher elementary . am a healthy 86 senior. i d like to be near the coast . im in a senior apt now but am looking for something in a more interesting area.. thanks.Donna
  23. My mother is about at the age where it is harder for her to take care of herself. I think a retirement living center would be best for her because she can do most things on her own, but could use the assistance of her family from time to time as you mention. I’ll have to see what she thinks about moving into a facility in the next few years.
  24. That sounds valuable that senior living may offer some forms of transport. A person may still be able to care for themselves, but that could make things easier. My grandma wants to move to a community so that she can be around people her own age.

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