How to Choose the Best Senior Apartment for Your Needs

As a senior citizen, your lifestyle is likely in flux. You may be preparing to retire or already in retirement. While in retirement, you are most likely on a fixed income. At the same time, like most seniors, you probably live alone or with a retired spouse, and you want to downgrade the size of your home. This is often due to the expense of maintaining the house and property, as well as paying for utilities and taxes. If you live alone, you may suffer from loneliness, depression, or empty nest syndrome. One way to overcome this loneliness is to move into a community with other seniors.

A senior apartment is a way for seniors to live among other people their age with similar lifestyles. In addition, a senior apartment can help seniors better afford housing while on a fixed income. If you are considering a senior apartment, learn more about what you can expect with this type of senior housing.

What is a Senior Apartment?

A senior apartment is a type of housing that is available to residents based on their age. Typically, seniors have to be at least 50 to live in a senior apartment. However, apartments for seniors vary in their age restrictions, such as requiring seniors to be over 65 to live in a unit.

In addition, state-governed affordable senior apartments often require only a percentage of all residents in the building to be a senior citizen. For example, with some low-income senior apartment complexes, 80 percent of residents must be over 65. This is due to the demand for housing in low-income areas, along with the lack of seniors to fill all of the residential slots.

As for the housing itself, a senior apartment is on par with any other type of apartment that is rented to residents. There may be handicap accessible features at senior apartments, but this is not a requirement for all apartments for this age group. As a result, seniors living in apartments need to be active seniors without serious health issues or memory care needs.

What are the Main Types of Senior Apartments?

A senior apartment can vary greatly in the style of housing.

  • For starters, there are senior apartment buildings and condos that involve multiple levels reached by elevator service.

In an apartment or condo for seniors, the units are arranged by floors. This requires residents to walk either using stairways or down hallways. For seniors with mobility concerns, this can be problematic. However, this type of apartment is typically more affordable compared to a stand-alone or single level apartment.

  • Seniors who prefer to have more privacy may want to consider a townhome, duplex, or triplex that does not have units stacked on top of each other.

This is a quieter housing arrangement. It is also a more accessible housing setup for seniors who struggle with stairs or walking long distances like hallways. For seniors who are interested in maintaining their privacy and living in an apartment that is more like a single family home, these ground level apartments are the way to go.

Another type of senior apartments is akin to dorm-style living.

  • In a senior apartment with multi-room setups, seniors are given their own bedroom. They share a communal restroom, kitchen, and living space.

These suite-style apartments for seniors offer more of a community feel and are good for social seniors interested in interacting with other residents.

In addition to the style of senior living apartments, you also want to look at the lifestyles associated with different complexes. The two main types include:

  • Luxury senior apartments
  • Affordable or low-income senior apartments

In a luxury senior apartment, the focus is on providing services and an atmosphere that is on par with lavishness. An example of a luxury apartment for seniors might offer spa services, gourmet meal delivery, swimming, and golfing within the apartment grounds.

An affordable or low-income senior apartment is just the opposite of luxury living. Here you are provided with the bare basics for an apartment unit. There will not be value-added amenities or activities for seniors at this type of apartment. You may also be living among non-seniors who are low-income, based on the resident requirement rule of the city.

What Can I Expect With Senior Living Apartment Services and Amenities?

When choosing a senior living apartment, you want to check out what services and amenities they offer to residents. Take notes and get any brochures or literature about the available features so you can compare these to other apartments in the area. Also, inquire about whether these services and amenities are available to all residents, or if they are limited in hours or require an additional fee for services. Here are some of the most common senior apartment services and amenities to look for:

  • A selection of floor plans to choose from
  • Private apartments or shared apartments
  • Option for fully furnished apartments
  • Pet-friendly apartments for seniors
  • Senior apartments for residents who smoke
  • Handicap accessible rooms and common areas
  • Emergency alert and notification service
  • Security alarms and video surveillance
  • Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and sprinkler systems
  • Staff onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Housekeeping service
  • Linen service
  • Transportation for seniors
  • Parking and/or valet service for seniors with their own vehicles
  • Scheduled outings for groups of residents
  • Onsite exercise classes or gym access
  • Swimming pool, hot tub, wet sauna, dry sauna, basketball court, volleyball court, walking trail, etc. for physical activities
  • Cultural and educational programs on a regular basis
  • Entertainment and social gatherings
  • Dining service, which varies from cafeterias, onsite cafes, gourmet meals, and in-room dining service
  • Registered dietitian on staff or with limited availability
  • Grounds maintenance, i.e., snow removal or sidewalk cleanup
  • Laundry services either with on-site laundry facility or private laundry service
  • Common area or lounge for television viewing and social gatherings
  • Movie screening room or theater space
  • Computers for communicating with friends and families
  • Workrooms or work areas for completing projects and participating in hobbies
  • Library onsite or access to library book checkout services provided to the apartment via the public library system
  • Broadband or high-speed wireless internet in rooms or in common areas
  • Pharmaceutical provider onsite
  • Beauty and barber shops
  • Snack shop
  • Chapel or church

Use this list to help you choose the services and amenities that are at the top of your preferences. Some services may be out of the question, while other services may be available only upon request.

What Questions Should I Ask When Selecting a Senior Apartment?

A senior apartment is intended to provide you with services that will help improve your quality of life in your later years. This involves more dedication to services and amenities, as you just discovered in the extensive listing above. Choosing the best senior apartment for you will require additional research compared to someone getting their first apartment in early adulthood. You most likely will live in this apartment for the duration of your retirement, and you need a space that offers amenities based on your lifestyle.

To help you with this important decision, we have created a checklist of questions you can ask before choosing your senior apartment:

  • How many apartments are there in the complex?
  • How many units are currently available?
  • What is the wait time before I can move in?
  • Can I see a unit as an example of what to expect?
  • What are the visiting hours for friends and family members?
  • Is there a quiet time and are the staff strict enforcers of the rule?
  • Do certain types of apartments receive more or fewer visiting hours, i.e., townhome residents may have more relaxed visiting hours compared to condo apartments?
  • Are the apartment grounds easy to navigate? Will I have to walk far between different facilities, such as the exercise center or the dining area?
  • In the surrounding area, are there plenty of grocery stores, medical services, shopping centers, etc., or will I have to travel a distance for these services?
  • Is the senior apartment located near public transportation or mass transit?
  • Can I make special choices regarding meals?
  • What happens if I get sick and have to transition to another form of senior housing, such as assisted living or a nursing home? Do I get charged a fee for leaving or is there a specific time frame I have for moving my belongings out of the apartment?
  • If I have guests, how long are they allowed to stay and visit? Can I have my grandchildren stay overnight?
  • What is the location of the facility? Is it in a rural or urban area?
  • Are there any interesting sites or landmarks near the apartment?
  • What is the surrounding landscape of the apartments, i.e., heavily forested, located downtown, in the middle of nowhere, etc.?
  • What is the apartment’s proximity to airports, hotels, and restaurants to cater to guests when traveling to visit?

You also want to consider the atmosphere of the staff and current residents.

  • Do you feel nervous or comfortable in their presence?
  • Are you concerned with the way staff interact with residents?

Keep in mind that you will be living here, so you want to find a senior apartment where you feel welcomed and at ease.

Why Should I Choose an Apartment for Seniors When I Retire?

If you aren’t sure if a senior apartment is the right choice for you, consider this. A senior apartment is great for individuals who have few mobility issues and a low level of care. If you are active and want to be engaged with the senior community, a senior apartment is a great place to live. You have your privacy, but you are provided with services and amenities, if you can afford it, that will improve your quality of life.

That being said, if you are considered low-income, you will be restricted to the types of senior apartments available to you. This can reduce the quality of the senior living experience. However, for seniors who need somewhere to live, this remains a viable option.

Do Senior Living Apartments Provide Specialized Medical Care?

If you are dealing with medical issues, such as early onset dementia, age-related macular degeneration, or lack of mobility, then you may not be eligible for a senior apartment. These apartments do not provide specialized medical services onsite with some exceptions.

It might be possible to have a private nurse whom you hire to provide you with services in your apartment. However, this is the exception and not the rule. If you need specialized health services, then you will likely want to look into other types of senior housing, such as assisted living facilities or nursing homes. These facilities are set up to provide a more advanced level of care without costing a fortune in private services.

How Do I Qualify to Live in a Senior Apartment?

You will need to be a senior in order to live in a senior apartment. The age ranges from 50 years on up. If you are in your 30’s or 40’s and want to go ahead and pay for a senior apartment, this will not be an option. However, you can save for your retirement and plan accordingly by understanding how much senior apartments cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Senior Apartments?

To determine the cost of senior apartments, first, note that you will be renting an apartment. However, due to the increased services and facilities available with senior living, the cost of these apartments is much more than your standard apartment rental. The typical range for senior apartments is anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 a month.

The lower range is for low-income or affordable senior living, while the upper end will be what it costs for luxury apartments for seniors. On average, however, the cost that most seniors can expect to pay is $3,000 a month. That is still much higher than the cost of a typical apartment for younger adults.

If you want to purchase a senior apartment, you will want to take another route for senior housing. Continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs provide you with the option to buy a private home.

How Can I Afford to Pay for a Senior Living Apartment?

In order to be able to afford a senior living apartment, you will need to prepare in advance. Retirement savings and investment income are the way to go here. If you do not have these but own your own home, the ideal route is to sell the house to be able to pay for an apartment.

Unfortunately, most seniors do not have enough money saved for retirement to cover the costs of a senior apartment. Some seniors may continue to work during their senior years to help cover these costs. Another option is to apply for low-income housing for seniors. This service gives you a stipend and access to affordable apartments.

Where Do I Go to Find a Senior Living Apartment Near Me?

Senior living apartments are not governed by any one agency. Therefore, you will have to do your research to find apartments near you.

  • Check the local phone book or search online for senior apartments in your city.
  • Search for senior apartments via religious organizations, such as the Good Samaritan Society or your local Catholic Social Services.
  • Contact your local housing authority to request information about affordable senior housing options.

How Do I Find a Low-Income Apartment for Seniors?

If you are looking for low-income apartments for seniors, you will need to go through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This agency provides HUD apartments for the elderly. To get started with the application process, contact the HUD apartment building nearest you.

While there is almost always a waiting list for HUD housing if you meet certain requirements you can be placed in a housing immediately. According to federal regulations, if you are currently homeless or living in a dangerous or unsanitary home, then you automatically receive assistance.

Considering how much paperwork is involved in getting a low-income apartment for a senior, you will want to get help. Contact a HUD housing counseling agent nearest to you and they will guide you through the process. The agent will also help you determine if a senior apartment is your best option, or if you would be better off in an assisted living center or nursing home.

Is There a Senior Living Helpline to Call for Additional Information About Senior Apartments?

We have set up a helpline for seniors who need assistance with senior apartments. Our goal is to provide you or your caregivers with accurate and up-to-date senior housing information.

When you call our helpline, we will answer your questions regarding which type of senior apartment is best for your level of care and how to find a senior apartment near you. Our senior helpline is a 100 percent free service that is dedicated to helping you improve your quality of life with the best senior apartment information.

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