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What are My Housing Options as a Senior?

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What are My Housing Options as a Senior?
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Retirement brings with it many changes. Your income may be reduced, and your lifestyle may evolve as well. The big house where you raised kids may no longer fit your needs or your budget.

US News and World Report’s recent article entitled “7 Housing Options for Seniors” says that if you’re ready to move someplace new as a senior, look at these seven options:

Aging in Place. Prior to putting your house on the market, decide if you truly want to start over someplace new. With some modifications, many homes can be safe and comfortable places for retirees to live. In-home care can make it possible for even those with declining health to remain in their homes. Personal care workers do the cooking, cleaning and running errands. If you need skilled care, some agencies can provide therapists and nurses who can assist with medications or other needs.  Medicare won’t pay for ongoing custodial care, but long-term care insurance and some Medicaid programs may cover the cost.

Moving in With Your Children.  This might not be ideal for everyone. However, moving in with an adult child or having them move into your place can be a benefit to both of you. This can cut living expenses in half. Parents may get free babysitting. Single seniors will benefit from an active household that will thwart loneliness and the health risks connected to it. It is critical to set clear guidelines from the start, and be sure that everyone has the same expectations about communal living, personal space and bill sharing.

House Sharing. If you don’t want to live with family, you might consider renting out space with another senior. Home sharing with another retiree provides similar financial benefits, without the complications that can come along with moving in with the children. Seniors who still own a home could find that a housemate covers many of their living expenses, and renters can split monthly bills in half. For example, it costs about $1,500 a month to rent an average one-bedroom apartment in Denver. However, if you rent through a house-sharing arrangement, you could pay half of that.

Independent Living Communities. These can be called several different names, such as retirement villages, active adult communities, or senior housing. Seniors enjoy their own private living space but also have access to amenities that may include on-site theaters, golf courses and restaurants. Many communities also have scheduled social activities and trips.

Assisted Living Facilities. For seniors who need some assistance with daily tasks, assisted living may be the best housing situation. These sites may have individual apartments for residents, along with communal spaces for meals and social activities. The workers may help with tasks related to housekeeping, personal hygiene and medications. These assisted living care facilities frequently are a bridge between independent living and nursing home care. They are designed for those seniors who can manage many activities on their own and don’t need intensive 24-hour assistance. Remember that Medicare doesn’t cover assisted living, but it may be covered by long-term care insurance.

Life Plan Communities. This isn’t a viable solution, if you don’t have access to a sizeable nest egg. However, for seniors who might require skilled nursing care in the future, a life plan community may be an affordable choice in the long term. These communities combine several living arrangements in a single location to let seniors to move from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care, if needed. Some are all-inclusive and include meals, as well as other activities. These communities offer several contract options. The top level typically guarantees care at a fixed rate.

Subsidized Housing. There are several federal housing programs that can help subsidize or stabilize the rents of seniors. However, subsidized housing programs at all levels can be complex to navigate. They each may have their own eligibility criteria and application process. Even if you think it’ll be years before you need subsidized housing, talk to a housing counselor through the Department of Housing and Urban Development or a local nonprofit soon. You can start to apply now because most of the programs do have waiting lists.

You may want to speak with an Elder Law attorney before making a final decision.

Reference: US News and World Report (Feb. 13, 2020) “7 Housing Options for Seniors’

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