What Type of Housing Will You Need When You Grow Old?

Updated on December 6, 2018
Dreamworker profile image

Dreamworker has been happily retired since 2002 and likes sharing what she has learned about aging in order to help those who are facing it.

Young and even middle aged people rarely give any thought to where they may end up living once they grow old.

However, understanding that their needs are likely to change as they age can be very helpful in eliminating future problems as they relate to housing.

As the years pass, it is common for changes to occur. For example, finances can improve or be damaged, serious illnesses can strike, spouses can divorce or even die and children can become estranged from their parents.

These days people are living longer. As a result, many develop health, social and financial problems that can have huge impacts on how they spend their final years.

Living in a place that can provide them with safety, comfort and financial security can go a long way towards making the quality of their golden years better.

For this reason it's always a good idea to research options far in advance of any life changing needs that may arise.

Where you plan to live when you are old and where you end up living are often two different things.
Where you plan to live when you are old and where you end up living are often two different things. | Source

A Perfect Example

I know of one situation where a husband died suddenly at age 62. He had no life insurance and was the main earner in the family.

His widow saw her income drop from $72,000 per year down o $18,000, so she was forced to sell her comfortable condo, get a job and move into a small but affordable apartment.

Fortunately she was young and healthy enough to be able to survive the crisis, but had she been old and sick, things could have been much worse.

As things turned out, she remarried. This time, however, she made sure that her new husband bought some life insurance so that she wouldn't have to face the same problem again!

Changes That Effect Senior Housing Needs

Each individual has different needs in old age.

  • Some remain relatively healthy and active, while others become burdened with painful and disabling illnesses.
  • Those who are wealthy or at least were careful with their finances find that they have more housing options, while others who had misfortune or didn’t manage their finances well must do with much less.
  • People who have built strong support systems over the years find that they still have relatively good social lives, while those who were loners or who alienated others throughout their lives find themselves isolated and lonely.

Thus they find that health, finances and relationships) are the issues that will have the biggest affect on how and where they live in their older years.

For example, many parents assume that if things go badly for them, their adult children will take them in, but if what once was a good relationship fades over time or if the family becomes totally estranged, the parents are left to fend for themselves.

The point here is that there are no guarantees in life. People face all sorts of difficulties due to bad luck and poor decision making that can quickly change their end of life living and housing options.

The Most Popular Option

A good number of people have stated that they would prefer to simply stay in their own homes as they age.

For some, this can work well, if

  • their health is good,
  • they can afford the high costs involved in home ownership,
  • they are able to care for their homes
  • they can make their homes handicapped ready and
  • their support system is strong.

However, this can be a very bad choice for others who

  • are in poor physical or mental health,
  • have limited finances,
  • don’t have many friends or relatives available to help them and
  • don't have the money to make safety alterations to their homes..

The location of the home for this last group is also important. If they live a good distance from doctors and health care facilities, staying put can be a major problem.

Wealth opens up more options for old age housing.

Other Housing Options

Those who don't want to grow old in their current homes should look at all of the options that are available to them given their personal circumstances.

The different types of housing include those that provide

  • a room within a house where other seniors also live,
  • independent housing where people with few physical or mental needs can rent or buy an apartment and live as they please,
  • living in a situation where one gets help with daily living needs such as bathing and meal preparation but who is not ill,
  • living in a facility that houses dementia patients,
  • living in a nursing home that supplies physical oversight as well as daily living care or
  • living at home but having helpers come in to take care of those things one can no longer do.

People who are old but healthy can also choose to

  • move into the homes of their children,
  • downsize to condos or mobile homes or
  • live in government subsidized housing

if their financial situation allows them to do so.

Some of these choices work well for people, but can cause older people to lose some of their privacy as well as a certain amount of control over their lives.

This is especially true if they are ill enough to require consistent medical supervision.

Of course there are always exceptions, as in the case of the woman in the above video! Those who have enough money can, for the most part, live anywhere!

Luck and Smart Living Are Helpful

While there are many unexpected things that can happen to people on the road to old age, those who are lucky and who live intelligently will be the ones most likely to have the best old age housing options.

It is extremely important for people to realize that where and how they will be able to live in their older years may not always be their first choice.

While nobody has a crystal ball, there are indicators that can point to potential problems for the future such as poor health, financial problems or limited social support.

For this reason, people need to be realistic and take steps to create living quarters for themselves that will keep allow them to remain secure and financially stable for as long as possible.

I have met countless older individuals over the years who spend their days in isolation, have no one to turn to for help and whose bad financial decisions have left them without many of the necessities of daily living.

This is what happens when they assume that nothing will change and that they will always remain healthy.

You should assume nothing. Growing old is a treacherous trip that is full of stumbling blocks, but the more money, health and good relationships you have when you reach your destination, the happier you will be once you arrive!

Have you given any thought to where you might wind up living when you're old?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Sondra Rochelle


    Submit a Comment

    • Dreamworker profile imageAUTHOR

      Sondra Rochelle 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Thanks. I've saved the link in case your reply gets deleted and will add it to the article when time permits. Sounds unique to me, but what a great deal!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      7 weeks ago from Rochester, New York


      We just happened upon this living situation. We were driving by and saw apartments for lease. We thought at first it was a place just for students but they were open to renting to others. I don't know if that has changed or if my situation is unique but we love it here. I hope this link is permitted.

    • Dreamworker profile imageAUTHOR

      Sondra Rochelle 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Robert E. Smith: Thank you SO much for this comment. What a great and creative idea you came up with. It leaves me wondering if there are similar housing opportunities around the country. Could you please let me know the name of the place where you live or provide contact info for it? I'm sure many would love to have further info about this!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      7 weeks ago from Rochester, New York

      I love the story of the lady that lives on a cruise ship. I love the recluse people that say they are thinking about a tiny home or a secluded cabin. None of those things were unnecessary for me to be happy.

      I had only one job all my working life and I never really thought I would retire from it, rather that I'd be fired before retirement. It is easy to say the wrong thing or one's actions misinterpreted incorrectly at some places of employment but I lasted 40 years there, and, to my surprise, I was able to retire with benefits and reputation intact. Now, I am retired and find the peacefulness and lack of pressure from work are more than enough to keep me happy and easy to please. I ended up renting in housing designed for continuing education students. It is great because everything is included in that one rental fee. All utilities, cable, internet, gymnasium/weight room, swimming pool and hot tub in summer, a clubhouse with pool table, video games and lounging areas where I can hobnob with old and young alike. Though it was designed for college students to be full service to that population, I saw that it would suit for a retirement paradise for me (at least in my mind). It is my hope that all who read this article would find what they need to be happy in their later years. Thank you for an enjoyable read. Bob.

    • Dreamworker profile imageAUTHOR

      Sondra Rochelle 

      2 months ago from USA

      You're welcome. I've lived a long time, and I've seen what poor choices do to people's lives when they age. Wanted to share some of this info with the hopes of helping people avoid some of the problems.

    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 

      2 months ago from Tempe, AZ

      Thank you so much for this hub! I just turned about a month ago, and I've been preoccupied with where I'm going to live in the not so distant future. I plan to build a tiny home that is comfortable for me to get around in as my body ages. So, no crazy ladders or having to pull out and put together furniture.

      I'm actively planning on retiring from working for others and work for myself in game and app development in the next five years.

      That story about Mary really made me think about loneliness among senior citizens...NOT a nice thought.

      Thank you again for creating this article, it was thought-provoking indeed!

    • Dreamworker profile imageAUTHOR

      Sondra Rochelle 

      2 months ago from USA

      These tips are a bit off topic but certainly are good ones. I agree completely!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      2 months ago from Houston, TX USA


      Start planning your retirement in your 20's

      Partner with someone

      Get steady jobs (government?)

      Buy a house (affordable)

      Save and invest

      Do not have children (risky)


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