When people reach the age where they would like to downsize and move, many of them put it off because they don’t know where to start. A good place to begin is by identifying the type of housing that best suits your needs:

Senior Cooperatives - Senior cooperatives are not-for-profit organizations collectively owned and governed by the members themselves. Apartments are purchased and usually have an additional monthly operational fee to cover maintenance, renovations and repairs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) - Senior housing planned and operated to provide a continuum of accommodations and services including, but not limited to: independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care. A CCRC resident contract involves either an entrance fee or buy-in which may or may not be partially or fully refundable. These communities charge monthly fees and sometimes residents pay all or part of their utilities. You do not own your apartment in a CCRC.

Senior Housing - Senior Housing is for people age 62 or better (sometimes 55 or better) who want to live independently in a community setting. Options are townhomes or apartments. Assisted Living and Memory Care are often part of the campus, so there is a continuum of care available. These are rental units; services, amenities, length of lease and rental inclusions vary greatly among communities.

Residential Care Homes – These are homes in regular neighborhoods where 5 to 10 older adults live who need care due to dementia or illness such as Parkinson’s. There is a 24 hour awake staff to care for the residents, and a variety of activities are offered, based on the needs of the residents.

Staying At Home - There is always the option of staying in your home and contracting with Home Health agencies and/or Companion Care companies. The costs depend on the services needed and the length of time you need a caregiver/companion to provide those services.

Different types of senior housing are commonly defined as:

Independent Living - Independent Living is for seniors who wish to live independently while benefiting from the advantages of an enhanced social, cultural and recreational lifestyle. Home Health services may available on a “scheduled basis.”

Assisted Living - Assisted Living is for seniors who need help with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), yet wish to remain as independent as possible. The ADLs can include: bathing/showering, grooming/dressing, mobility and eating/meals. Good questions to ask include: Is Elderly Waiver accepted if finances are a problem? Are special diets accommodated? How is the cost of services determined: Point system? Packages? A La Carte? Cost and availability of meals; housekeeping, utilities, amenities, and transportation are other things to consider.

Memory Care - Memory Care offers supportive health and personal care services 24 hours a day in a secure, specially designed, therapeutic residential setting for those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions. Activities and meals are designed to meet the unique needs of the residents. Some questions to ask include: How do you determine the level of care needed? What types of activities do you provide for residents and how often? What type of nursing staff is available? (Assisted Living and Memory care may or may not provide 24 hour skilled nursing on-site.)

Some good ideas to ease stressful decision making:

  • Don’t wait for a “crisis” – it is difficult on you and your loves ones. It could also limit your options in where you can live and what is available.
  • Make a list of things you want in a senior community such as location, apartment type, amenities, costs, and activities.
  • Avoid looking at too many communities – it can become overwhelming and confusing.
  • Make the move while you are still active and can enjoy your new life style.
  • Create a “Health Care Directive” – it’s a valuable gift for your loved ones and ensures you will get the type of care you want if you are unable to speak for yourself.


This is general information about four of the most common types of senior housing options. The best way to ensure you are fully informed is to determine what types of things are most important to you and then consult the experts – they will provide the answers you need.

Libby Jensen
Director of Marketing – Summit Place
www.edenprairieaging.org


EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.