It used to be the case that older people were either cared for at their homes or went to nursing homes, but with advances in medicine people are living longer and are healthier. There is a vast array of senior living options and many are finding that senior living apartments suit their changing lifestyle.
The senior citizen generation is the fastest growing percentage of the American population. Housing developments take this demographic very seriously. Seniors need a place to live that meets their wants and needs and it no longer means going to a nursing home.
Many seniors are very healthy and very mobile. Yet, they do not want the burden of home maintenance and repair. They have spent most of their life working and/or raising a family and now they want to have time to relax and enjoy their time. Senior living apartments are a great answer to this scenario.
Whether seniors want to downsize for maintenance or cost, a senior citizen apartment can lower the burden. There is no maintenance or repair which frees up time, so seniors can travel, entertain, live amongst their peers, and enjoy the environment surrounding them. There are also programs available for low-income housing for seniors on a fixed income.
Senior living apartments might also be advertised as senior citizen apartments or senior retirement apartments. They can be independent buildings or part of a senior living community, as in 55 Plus communities, independent living communities, or age-restricted communities. Unlike assisted living and nursing homes, senior apartments generally do not include any care options, unless part of a larger community that offers multiple senior living lifestyles.
Senior citizen apartments and 55 Plus Communities are designed with the senior in mind. They often resemble a resort in layout. There is usually a community of homes, either freestanding condos, mobile homes or apartment style. There is usually a central clubhouse or common area for use by the residents.
The homes or senior living apartments within this type of age-restricted community are designed to be low maintenance and address the daily living concerns of seniors. There are usually walk in showers, single story buildings to avoid stairs, and wide entryways to allow for wheelchairs and walkers.
Senior living apartments and age-restricted communities are allowed under the Fair Housing Act. Generally, a community can restrict occupancy to residents based on age if 1 of 2 conditions are met. At least 1 resident of a unit must be 55 years of age or older, or, at least 80% of the occupied units are over 55 or older. In a 62 + community there is only the condition that 1 resident must be 62 years of age. There is no percentage condition for the older age-restricted community. These communities generally do not allow a resident less than 19 to be a permanent resident of the unit.
Depending on the community and the agreement, senior apartment units can be purchased and owned by anyone. This is usually a concern in families for inheritance purposes. Owners are able to purchase a senior living apartment with the confidence that it can be bequeathed to anyone, just like a regular investment. The community might enforce age occupancy residency restrictions, but the new owner can often rent or lease the apartment as is reasonable. If nothing else, the new owner can then sell the senior apartment, just like any other real estate investment.
Senior living apartments often provide the option of buying or renting fully furnished units. This is helpful for seniors relocating or seniors who choose to sell their household furniture and downsize into something already prepared.
One of the best features of senior citizen apartments is a low maintenance lifestyle. Residents are often still very mobile and active, but no longer wish to handle home repairs. There are few people who miss the chores of shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or fixing the crack in the sidewalk. In 55+ senior apartments, that is handled by the community.
Women live longer than men and often there are more senior citizen women than senior citizen men. Women have not historically been in charge of household maintenance and repairs. Women who are reaching 55 years of age or older and live alone don’t necessarily have the desire or the previous experience to handle household maintenance. Senior retirement apartments are particularly popular among women.
There are pet-friendly senior living apartments, just like other senior housing options that are pet-friendly. Pet companionship is recognized as being beneficial in the aging community when so many are living alone. Pets play an important part in having a sense of home, and companionship, as well as maintaining a sense of responsibility and a regular routine.
There is something to be said about living in a community where you get to know people who are similar to you. These neighbors are usually in the same age group with similar life experiences and goals. If you are going through a problem, there are probably people around in the community who have gone through that same problem. It can be reassuring to know that you are not alone.
There are often amenities available for residents of senior independent living apartments. A central common area can be the social hub of the community. There is often a fitness room with well-maintained equipment and walking trails. Social groups often use the common area as a meeting point and hold meetings and events for members.
Senior citizens apartments are unique in that they might offer services not found in a regular apartment complex. These include meals offered in a central dining room 2-3 times per day, as well as housekeeping. A particular benefit is the availability of transportation. Often seniors do not feel comfortable driving or are restricted from driving. Senior apartments offering transportation is a valuable benefit in maintaining a sense of freedom.
A well-run senior community will also be interested in maintaining mental stimulation. Mental decline is a major concern for aging adults and their families. Community enrichment programs can combat mental decline by keeping residents mentally stimulated. These might be through social events, educational lectures, tours, or other experiences.
With the amenities available in senior apartments, they have become popular as second homes for many older adults. Seniors can purchase a senior living apartment in another area of the country and visit when they see fit. This is especially convenient for “snow-birds” who travel north to south every year to avoid the northern winters. For example, many New York seniors like to purchase Florida real estate and stay in the warmer climate during the colder months of the year.
It’s important to note that there is generally no medical or personal care offered by a senior living apartment or age-restricted community. This does not restrict healthcare providers from visiting a unit or home to provide assistance as necessary, but this is not usually offered by the community. Home health care services can be contracted separately.
Luxury senior living apartments might also have services such as an onsite pharmacy, superior enrichment programs, 24-hour emergency call system or 24-hour emergency staff. These are offered to meet the needs of the residents so they vary by location.
Senior living apartment costs are dependent on many factors, just like any type of housing. It is heavily dependent on geographic area.
Senior citizen apartments can cost from $1,000 to $10,000 per month. The most common range is $2,500 to $3,500 per month, with the average being $2,900. A comparable assisted living facility specializing in Alzheimer’s or Dementia that provides both housing and care ranges from $3,400 to $5,000 per month, and in general, assisted living costs are much higher than the costs associated with senior apartments that do not provide care.
Meal plans, access to amenities, and additional services might be included or priced independently in a la carte fashion.
There is often a one-time entry / purchase fee when it comes to senior apartments, especially when they are part of continuing care retirement communities. This can typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 or more, depending on just how luxury the community is.
As of last year, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cites that 31% of all public housing residents are elderly residents. As the senior citizen age group continues to increase, this percentage qualifying as low-income or very low-income is expected to increase. Finding affordable senior housing is a growing concern.
You might ask “what is affordable”? HUD has determined that housing is affordable at 30% or less of monthly gross income.
For seniors living on a fixed income, this 30% calculation might still be beyond their grasp, prompting them to seek senior housing assistance. HUD has programs available to help low-income and very low-income senior citizens with HUD reduced rents.
HUD Section 202 program is the “Supportive Housing for the Elderly” program. Its purpose: “HUD provides interest-free capital advances to private, nonprofit sponsors to finance the development of supportive housing for the elderly.” Its goal is to provide affordable housing for the “very low-income” elderly adults.
There is a federal baseline for measuring poverty, but the US is so large that this is often overridden by local measures based on local demographics.
HUD programs require a yearly financial evaluation to maintain eligibility. This will involve a review of social security number of all occupants, US tax returns and pay stubs. For senior living apartment or senior housing programs, at least one member of the household must be at least 62 years of age.
Every community will have a local public housing agency that serves the area. They will have these measures posted and available, either in person or online.
HUD programs are in hot demand by seniors and the working poor. There are often long waiting lists to participate, even after qualifying. In this case, demonstrating need might not be enough to actually access senior housing assistance.
If you think that you will need low cost senior housing, make an appointment at your local public housing agency as soon as possible. Funding is provided on a yearly basis, so you want to be on the list as early as possible.
A home is still a home, regardless of the type. You must find one that you like, that meets your needs, and that you can afford. There are some questions you can ask when looking for senior apartments near you:
Some people live in apartments all their lives and some have never been in an apartment at all. Living in an apartment can be a change in lifestyle. Living in a senior living apartment might mean a greater change in lifestyle.
If you’ve never lived in an apartment, a senior retirement apartment might seem confining. An individual apartment might seem much smaller than a former house. Downsizing can be liberating, but it might take time getting used to.
There are more people around in a senior apartment. This is good if you want to be social and increase social interaction. It might seem invasive if you like your privacy. It’s important to gauge how you will respond to the environment of a senior community.
When there are a lot of people, there will be rules. A senior living apartment complex will have rules to keep the peace. You probably won’t have to call to complain about a wild party in the apartment next door, but there will be guidelines in place to ensure that things run in an orderly fashion. Management’s goal should be to make it a peaceful environment for all older adult residents. That might mean you must change a habit.
Senior living apartments meet a growing need to supply senior living options. There is a wide variety available, in an equally wide price range. Choosing a senior apartment is much like choosing any housing option. Do you like it? Does it meet your needs? Will you be happy there? It is a very personal decision and you will have to live with it. It’s important to be realistic about what you want and what you like.
If you are one of the millions of aging Americans on a fixed income, it’s important that you find affordable senior housing that will meet your needs and your budget. There are programs and agencies that offer help specifically for low-income and very low-income seniors. Know your options and seek help early, before it’s an emergency.