Caring for a Loved One: Senior Housing Options Compared


Seniors make up a reported 13.3 percent of the US population; what was estimated to be 41.4 million people aged 65 or older in July 2011 is projected to reach 92 million by 2060. That’s quite a lot! And as one grows older, seniors often start needing assistance with daily tasks such as housekeeping, medication, meals, and the like. About 2 out of 3 seniors will need long term care, and it should be something that the younger generation should take into account for their loved ones. When picking between senior housing options, it’s important to choose one that will meet your and your loved one’s financial, physical, medical, and social needs. That being said, here are the varied senior housing options available.

Assisted Living

Seniors who can no longer live on their own can also consider assisted living facilities. These long-term care centers help the elderly with daily tasks like preparing medications, meals, housekeeping, etc. Living in private apartments with trained staff available 24/7 and nurses on hand, this is a good option for seniors who still want to have some independence while being able to receive the care they need. This type of care often runs around $2,500 – $4,000 a month.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are probably your most expensive option, but is necessary for residents who require medical monitoring almost constantly, often because of medical problems. Services are provided 24 hours a day by nursing staff (registered nurses, LPNs, and nursing assistants) but it also very restrictive, as a senior resident will not be able to make lots of decisions for themselves. Health insurance may be able to help for either short or long-term care, although it differs between providers. Nursing homes often cost anywhere between $5,000-8,000 a month, which is certainly not chump change.

Independent Living

There are communities out there created for seniors who need little to no help with their daily tasks, aptly called independent living. In this type of living arrangement, seniors are allowed to live on their own in private apartments and maintain an independent lifestyle, with staff only helping with tasks such as preparing meals, doing laundry, or housekeeping. Best for the elder with no medical problems, this is ideal for seniors who want independence with some supervision from staff. This type of program will run you around $1,500 – $3,500 a month.

Options for Aging-in-Place

The choices listed above are all senior housing options in separate facilities. However, for the vast majority of seniors, most prefer to age in place in their own home, where they are comfortable in familiar surroundings and close to neighbors and their community. Seniors who have a close network of friends and family are encouraged to explore aging-in-place options, as they allow for lots of freedom and are generally what most seniors want. Below are just a few options for aging-in-place:

  • In-home care – For this service, licensed home health aides visit daily or several times a week (depending on your needs) to help with daily activities like bathing, toileting, hygiene, meal preparation, housekeeping, medication, and moving around. However, this service does not include medical care, which only trained nurses can provide. In-home care is ideal for families who do not have time for caregiving, but would like their loved ones to remain at home. In-home care will often cost around $20-40 per hour.
  • Home modifications – For seniors who can’t move around a normal home anymore, home modifications can change homes to meet the special needs of seniors of any age, height, or ability. This can include adding ramps, lifts, or elevators as necessary. This can be a great way to save heaps of money as well, compared to moving a senior into an expensive nursing home. What’s more, adding home modifications to accommodate the elderly can also allow for other people with disabilities to visit. The cost can vary, however, anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
  • Adult day care – An adult day care is exactly what it sounds like, a day care for adults. These day care centers help to promote the well-being of seniors with social and health related services, providing a safe environment, meals throughout the day, and some much needed downtime for family caregivers. A very social environment for seniors, adult day cares are around $64 a day.
  • Maid, yard, and meal services – For seniors who cannot keep up with housekeeping, grocery shopping, and preparing meals, this service allows seniors to stay in their own homes while having their necessary chores being done by homemaker services. This option is relatively cheap, with most running about $20 an hour.
  • Remote monitoring – This service allows for family members to keep an eye on elderly loved ones from afar, either through internet video calls, personal emergency response services, or sensors that track activity and vital signs. This is often an inexpensive option that allows for no restrictions on a loved one’s independence, while also being able to respond when a senior is in need. Costs can vary for this type of service, anywhere from $10-20 a month for emergy response services and $25-50 per doctor visit.



Peter Huang