Senior Housing: 4 Types of Independent Living for the Elderly

Story Highlights
  • 1 - Retirement communities
  • 2 - Retirement homes
  • 3 - Granny pods
  • 4 - Co-housing

As we get older, living alone can become a bit more challenging (or even as a couple).

As our mobility deteriorates and health challenges mount, safety becomes more important than independence.

That’s why many seniors move into the homes of their relatives, into hospices, or other retirement facilities. However, there are ways for seniors to live both independently and safely.

While there might be a number of variations, here are the main four options one can explore:

1 – Retirement communities

Retirement communities are streets or sections where all of the inhabitants are above a certain age.

The houses themselves (or alternately flats) are all designed to help a senior get about. They often come with panic buttons and other alarm systems in place, and they are easy to keep up.

The biggest benefit of these kinds of communities is the social factor they offer: people of similar ages live together, can spend time together, help each other out, and often understand each other better than other generations would.

These communities provide a high level of independence and are an excellent choice for elderly citizens who are healthy enough and fit enough to do for themselves on their own.

Sometimes people move into these communities purely for the social aspect of living around others with similar life experiences.

2 – Retirement homes

Retirement homes are similar to retirement communities, although they are often much smaller, and the inhabitants often occupy one room or two within the space, and share communal spaces, like dining rooms, kitchens, and living rooms.

An added layer of care is also often available, as nurses and other medical staff are on hand to help those who are facing more severe health challenges.

Although retirement homes may sound anything but independent, there are actually options where you can retain a lot of your own independence, while being provided with the level of care you need.

3 – Granny pods

Granny pods are also known as granny flats or in-law units, and they are actually an accessory dwelling unit (ie a small cottage in the backyard of a family home).

Granny pods are an excellent way to keep the family together, and for the senior family members to retain as much independence as they can.

These units are often decked out completely with kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas, as well as the compulsory bedrooms. Alternatively, they can just house a bed and bath, and have the seniors move into the main living area during the day.

Both options make taking care of an elderly family member much easier, and often boost their safety, yet retain their sense of independence.

Depending on the space you have in your home and the level of investment you are ready to make, a granny pod can be an excellent solution, and can (over time) also be converted into an office, a space for the kids, or it can even be rented out.

4 – Co-housing

Co-housing can feel like moving back into your student days, as it consists of two or more seniors living together in one space, be it a house or a flat.

All the residents will have their own bedrooms but will share the common areas, often including the kitchen and living areas, as well as the yard.

Co-housing also comes in the form of seniors moving in with their family, where they share some of the space, but can retire to their own rooms if they need to.

Co-housing is again a great way to retain a sense of community and share your life with other people. It’s a great way to keep spirits up, but some privacy will be forfeit in this arrangement.

Final thoughts

Where you will live as a senior is often a question that bothers many people as they get older. We are all afraid of losing our independence, but also don’t want to find ourselves lying on the bathroom floor with a broken hip before anyone alerts the authorities we are missing.

Whichever of the above housing options you choose, make sure it is aligned with the way of life you want to live and how private a person you are.

Sometimes it is better to have your own space where you can choose to invite others when it suits you, while at other times, communal living can be the better option. It will all depend on your own values and way of life.

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