What Are the Alternatives to Nursing Homes?

Senior man who uses cane sits on sofa smiling at health care provider.The reality is that it is sometimes impossible or too expensive for an elderly person in poor health to remain at home. Other seniors may simply wish to live with others rather than be isolated.

Fortunately, over the last two decades, there has been an explosion of supportive housing alternatives for seniors, and the options are no longer limited to an agonizing choice between staying at home or moving to a nursing home. If you (or a loved one) do not require round-the-clock skilled nursing care, one of these supportive housing alternatives may be just right.

What is Supportive Housing?

Supportive housing options range from board and care homes to large institutional complexes. Supportive facilities provide food, shelter, and personal assistance while encouraging independence and personal dignity. The services offered may include help with activities such as eating, dressing, preparing meals, and shopping, as well as monitoring and other supervision.

The main alternatives are board and care facilities, assisted living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). But these broad categories encompass a huge range of options in terms of services and costs. Generally, the more you pay, the more services you get. There is a great disparity in quality as well, with facilities ranging from excellent to sub-standard. This means you need to research the options carefully before making a choice, and our articles on these three alternatives can help you in that process. But if you can find a high-quality facility, supportive housing can make a great deal of sense. It's reassuring to know that help is there to take care of tasks like cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.

Senior Apartments

Senior apartments are an excellent alternative to nursing homes for those who have trouble with mobility but can still live on their own. The housing facility provides everything they need to live independently in a smaller space tailored to their needs. If the need for care arises, it's possible to look into local home care services as long as the senior doesn't have a life-threatening medical condition. If cost is an issue, it's possible to apply for a Medicaid home care waiver. However, it will take time to have an application processed and approved.

If you or a loved one are considering a move to an alternative supportive housing or downsizing to a senior apartment, contact an elder law attorney near you. They will help evaluate your financial situation, find local options, review housing contracts to protect you, and discuss the need for long-term care planning.