Finding the Right Senior Apartment

One of the hardest parts about aging is admitting when you are unable to stay in your home any longer. A senior citizen may need to move out of his or her home for several different reasons. In some instances, senior citizens have been living in the same house for most of their life, which was originally intended for a larger family. Senior citizens who are living alone or with a spouse rarely need the entire space in the house, and it becomes difficult to maintain a home of this size. Housing costs for larger homes are higher which is a challenge for senior citizens on a fixed budget.

Another issue is getting around the house. Some senior citizens have trouble maneuvering around stairs, or their house may be located in a hilly area. The home may be far from common locations the senior citizen was once able to drive to but are now inaccessible. While these are serious concerns, they are not necessarily enough to justify moving into an assisted living community or a nursing home. Instead, these senior citizens can look into senior apartments.

What are Senior Apartments?

Senior apartments are specialized apartment complexes where there is a minimum age limit on who can live in the apartment. Most senior apartments are open to any individuals at least 55 years of age, but some increase this limit to 60 years of age. Senior apartments are built with the needs of senior citizens in mind, which includes comfortable, easy to navigate grounds and facilities. Many senior apartments are located near medical centers and other areas seniors commonly visit. Despite the name, senior apartment complexes are similar to a gated housing or condo community. Common areas are open to anyone living in the complex. The homes are typically individual units, since stacking units in the traditional apartment style is not good for senior citizens with limited mobility.

Select apartments have additional services available to residents. This includes transportation and scheduled trips outside of the complex. Some of these are luxury trips, such as visiting a movie theater, while other are practical trips, such as visiting the grocery store.

What Do You Need from a Senior Apartment?

If you are looking at a senior apartment, make a list of what you need from the complex. Many senior apartments have units catering to senior citizens with medical conditions leading to limited mobility. Not all units are equipped for these senior citizens, so double check the specific unit features for the entire complex to determine what is offered.

Senior apartments typically offer similar care services to an assisted living facility. This includes helping with transportation, grooming, bathing and meal preparation. Cleaning services, laundry and trash removal are often provided in senior apartment complexes as well. Some senior apartments partner with companionship groups where a volunteer visits the senior during the week. This takes place directly in the apartment, or it involves a volunteer group hosting an open event in an apartment common room.

Setting a Budget

Once you know what you need from your new home, the next step is to start comparing prices. Establishing a budget for a senior apartment is more involved than budgeting for a traditional apartment.  Many senior apartment complexes include utilities in the monthly rental cost. Some senior apartment communities provide meals in the general costs. This makes calculating basic living costs easier, but you must budget for other costs, such as medication, insurance, food and entertainment.

Another difference between senior apartments and traditional apartments is how long you stay. With a traditional apartment, renters intend to leave the apartment after a few years. A senior apartment is more permanent. Less options are available for senior apartments compared to traditional apartments, so if you can no longer afford your current complex, it is harder to relocate. This makes it more important to select a complex you know you can afford.

Pick a Location

Where you decide to live depends on your transportation needs. Many senior citizens lose the ability to drive due to waning vision or other medical issues. Other senior citizens cannot afford their vehicle. Many senior apartments are located near medical facilities, but if you need specialized care this may not be enough. Other senior citizens want to stay close to their family. You may have additional location-based needs, such as wanting to stay close by to a specific community or organization. If you cannot travel and do not have someone who can help you get around, consider a senior apartment located near public transportation.

Look at Reviews

When you move into a senior apartment, you want to stay in the apartment complex for as long as possible. Moving out of a senior apartment is an involved process, and it takes a long time to find a new location. Before you commit to an apartment complex, take time to research the apartment complex. One of the best ways to get a feel for a senior apartment complex is to read reviews online. In most states, specific websites exist where you can look up information about senior communities in your area.

One of the benefits of online reviews is family members can post reviews as well. Some senior citizens give good reviews to the community simply because it was the only one available. Families are more likely to give honest reviews. Many family members are more involved than the senior in setting everything up with the apartment complex, so they may have behind the scenes insights about the application process.

If you are happy with the reviews, call the apartment community and see if a scheduled tour is available. Make sure the apartment owner shows you the entire community and the unit you are going to be renting. Visiting in person lets you get a feel for the general atmosphere of the community. Some seniors prefer a more active community, while others are comfortable with privacy. Be sure to select a location that offers you the type of community you are seeking.