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Living arrangements


When planning for an older person’s future, one of the greatest considerations is living arrangements. Where they will live, who they will live with, and how they will live are some of the most important decisions to make. This article outlines some of the most common options for living arrangements for older adults. 

Aging in place

When planning for an older person’s future, one of the greatest considerations is living arrangements. Most older adults would prefer to stay in their homes, which is commonly referred to as aging in place. This may require some modifications to the home in order to accommodate wheelchair use or limited mobility. Sometimes with the help of a caregiver, aging in place allows older people to maintain their independence and save money, as compared to medically supervised nursing home care or other assisted living facilities.

House sharing

In order to reduce costs of living and have built-in companionship, some older people opt for house sharing. There are several different ways to share housing, including pooling resources in order to purchase a house, renting a place together, or renting out space in a home already owned. Some older adults choose to co-house with people around their own age in order to avoid moving into assisted living; while others may offer reduced or free rent to a younger person in exchange for household chores and help with other tasks.

Moving in with loved ones

Moving in with loved ones is one way that older people can ensure some level of care, and a continued social life. Loved ones can provide care and assistance with everyday tasks. This can also be a significant cost savings for the older person and their loved ones.

Independent living communities

Also known as retirement villages and independent senior housing, these facilities are designed with the needs of older adults in mind. They promote active mental and physical lifestyles and offer programming, amenities, and an active social life for their residents. Living in a retirement village offers access to people with shared interests and needs. Most retirement communities handle home and lawn maintenance and are designed with residents’ limited mobility in mind.

Assisted living facilities

Like independent living communities, assisted living facilities vary widely in what they offer to residents. Generally speaking, assisted living facilities offer help with activities of everyday living like bathing, cooking, and laundry, but do not offer full medical assistance. Some facilities are designed for residents to move within the facility from completely independent living with the option of assistance, to a more comprehensive list of services. Some assisted living facilities offer complete apartments for residents, while others have only a private or shared room with bathroom, with dining and recreational facilities included in the building or buildings. 

Respite care

Respite care facilities are designed for short-term and highly supervised stays, often for patients immediately after undergoing surgery or a major medical procedure. These stays provide 24-hour medical supervision and care.

Memory care facilities

Memory care facilities are designed to give extra medical and general support to patients suffering from dementia or other types of cognitive decline. These facilities have a larger staff and doctors and nurses on hand. They also offer extra security measures to keep residents from wandering outside and getting lost or injuring themselves. Some memory care facilities are incorporated into nursing homes or assisted living facilities, while others are separate entities. 

Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes)

Skilled nursing facilities, also called nursing homes, offer help with everyday tasks as well as a range of amenities, depending on each facility. Nursing homes also offer a level of medical care, including medication maintenance and round-the-clock supervision. Because of this, they are often more clinical than assisted living facilities, and may not offer individual living spaces that accommodate many personal possessions. 

Hospice care

Hospice care is available for those who are facing terminal illness, and can be provided in the home or at a separate facility. Designed to provide palliative care to ease the transition from life into death with as little pain and stress as possible, hospice care living arrangements offer in-home help from trained medical professionals to take some of the burden from caregivers. 

Related information

Assisted living facilities

Investigate long-term care options

Memory care


Paying for long-term care

Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes)

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