Living Options for Older Adults: Cost, Companionship and Convenience

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Older adults move to senior living facilities for many reasons these days. Health is obviously an important factor, but there are others at play. Older adults may be looking for companionship and a lifestyle change, especially those who have grown tired of isolation and loneliness. Some seek physical fitness programs, while others want a safer living environment. Today’s senior living communities offer services, activities, and special programs aimed at helping older adults thrive. That can be a strong inducement for someone who needs assistance but also wants social contact and plenty to do in a safe and engaging environment.

Active Lifestyles

Senior living is about more than just staying occupied with simple activities. Residents today have the opportunity to educate themselves, pursue special interests, and develop new talents; you may find a community that offers regular outings to symphony orchestra concerts, museum tours, hiking, and membership in a book club. Senior communities want their residents to enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle, so spend some time researching facilities in your area. See what each one has to offer and whether it’s a good fit for your interests, plans, and finances.

Senior Roommates

Aging in a community can be a positive experience for seniors, but the cost is often prohibitive. That’s especially true for older adults trying to make do on retirement benefits or Social Security payments. Look for others who are in the same boat, seniors like you who might be interested in defraying the expense of living by finding a roommate.

The benefits of senior home sharing go beyond thrift and economy. You and your roommate may become friends, provide mutual emotional support, and help keep each other safe. If you aren’t quite ready for assisted living, sharing living expenses with a roommate makes a lot of sense. You may not end up with an idyllic “Golden Girls” scenario, of course, but home sharing can be fun and make the demands of day-to-day living more manageable.

Medicare and Transportation

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you know that you’re covered for a range of emergency services. Unfortunately, Original Medicare isn’t much help if you need assistance getting to and from medical appointments. There are alternatives, however. Medicare Advantage plans can often cover the cost of ride-sharing services. If you make frequent visits to the doctor or therapist, it may be worthwhile switching to Medicare Advantage.

‘Village’ Living

Older adults who prefer to age in place may find it easier thanks to an innovative grassroots initiative known as the “village movement,” according to NPR. In exchange for annual dues, you get access to personal helpers and connections to discounted services, such as home health assistance and grocery delivery. Essentially, seniors receive assisted living-style amenities in the comfort of their own homes. A “village living” program may also provide access to social activities for those who fear becoming isolated.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

HUD (Housing and Urban Development) sets aside funding each year for hundreds of thousands of seniors in need of low-income housing. Landlords decide how many of their living units will be reserved for economically disadvantaged older adults. If you’re a senior who meets HUD’s age and income criteria (you must be 62 or older with very low housing income), you can find affordable housing. Research your area for dwellings approved under the HUD program.

Seniors have a wide range of options today when it comes to living arrangements. Senior living facilities provide a broad range of services, but they can be expensive. However, finding a senior roommate can help bring the price down. And for those determined to age in place, the village movement and the right Medicare Advantage health plan can give you access to the services you need and make it possible to get where you need to go.


This article is from Hazel Bridges of agingwellness.org.

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About the author 

Dr Michael Chua PT, DPT

Dr Michael Chua is a physical therapist practising in Home Health, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Acute Care Hospital. His clinical interest involves pain management, geriatrics and dementia management. He enjoys treating patients and bringing out the best in them using positive treatment approaches, his dynamic work setting in a rural area provides an opportunity to treat a wide range from geriatrics to orthopaedics.

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