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Housing Options

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There are many housing possibilities for older adults.  The following overview describes the most common living options and are listed in order of the amount of service available and/or provided:

Home: Most people prefer to stay in their own homes, and this is often possible, perhaps with appropriate modifications or assistance. See the Community Resources section for in-home supports, and the Assistive Technology and Home Modifications sections to resources to support safety and independence.

Retirement Communities (sometimes call “senior apartments” or “senior housing”) can be an option for individuals who are able to live independently and can take care of themselves in their own apartment.  A variety of social and recreational activities may be offered.  There are generally no entrance fees.  Rents can vary widely.  Meals and housekeeping services, if available, usually cost extra.

Accessory apartments (often called “in-law” apartments) are separate apartments within a home.  They allow people to live with privacy and independence without living alone.  Towns have different rules for these, so checking on zoning is a first step.

Elderly Cottage Housing Opportunities (ECHO) homes are small, portable "cottages" that can be added to a single-family home.  The resident lives close to family or friends who can provide needed support, yet each keeps his/her own living space.  Check out www.SeniorResource.com

Note:  It is important to check out any municipal rules about accessory apartments or ECHO housing before construction.

Low-Income Rental Assistance and subsidized housing:   Older persons may be eligible for an apartment in housing subsidized by the Federal government or may be eligible to receive assistance so they spend no more than 30% of their income on rent.  To learn about any of these programs, contact your Area Agency on Aging or visit www.mainehousing.org.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) offer a variety of independent living arrangements for individuals in the same building or on the same campus.  These communities can provide a range of services if an individual's needs change.  Services may include dining accommodations, educational, recreational and social activities, transportation, housekeeping, personal care, medical and nursing care.  Residents may pay an entrance fee as well as a monthly charge in return for the use of facilities and services.  Some communities offer residential units for purchase.

Independent housing with services provides individuals in private apartments with varying levels of service such as group meals, housekeeping, laundry and chore services, minimal personal care, emergency response systems, transportation, and care management.  Services are designed to meet regularly scheduled needs.

Adult family care homes are residences where six or fewer people, who meet medical eligibility requirements, live in a homelike setting and can receive assistance with personal care, medication management and supervision.  Some homes also provide nursing care.

Residential care facilities are licensed to provide the entire array of assisted living services to individuals in private and semi-private rooms, generally with shared common areas.

Assisted living facilities provide individual apartments, and emphasize privacy, independence and personal choice.  Services generally include 2-3 meals per day, assistance with medications, personal care, housekeeping, organized activities, supervision and limited nursing care and can usually be tailored to meet individual needs.  Some facilities have specialized units for people with dementia.

Nursing facilities are long term care facilities that provide 24-hour nursing care, personal care, therapy, nutrition management, organized activities, and social services for people who do not require hospital care but who need frequent nursing care or rehabilitative services and are dependent on others to do daily activities. 

MaineCare, Medicare and other insurance (under certain conditions) may cover some or all of the costs of nursing facility care.  A long-term care assessment is required for all individuals seeking admission to a nursing facility for long term care.  The free assessment is completed by a nurse from a state-authorized agency.  Contact Goold Health Systems at 1-800-609-7893 or the Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.