Housing Options When You Can’t Live at Home

Everyone wants to live out their days in their own home. It’s painful to think about being placed in an assisted living or dying in a hospital. The thought of leaving behind the comforts of home and losing independence is overwhelming. Sometimes staying at home simply isn’t an option. 

The biggest reason for needing outside care is safety. 

As we age, we may lose mental capacity or simply become frail and unable to manage our independence. We become at risk for falling or other injuries, which makes it too risky to be a home. Sometimes a medical event requires therapies to bounce back and regain mobility or other skills. Isolation is also a concern. Being alone too much can affect social skills and mental health. Being in an environment with peers and activities can prolong and enrich life. 

If you or someone you love is showing the signs that they can no longer live at home, it might be time to consider options. Here are some common options for housing when you can’t live at home. 

Retirement communities- Some retirement communities are single-family homes in a condensed geographic area. Others are apartments or combined housing units with centralized services. These communities are geared towards an active lifestyle but rely on members being relatively independent. If you have been living in a large home with high-maintenance it might be a next step to downsize to a retirement community. 

Assisted living communities- An assisted living community offers more services than a retirement community. This may include providing meals in a central location as well as housekeeping and other services. Assisted living communities may assist in shopping, doctors’ appointments, or social activities off site. Generally, members of an assisted living community are ambulatory and able to make informed decisions about their care. They are able to come and go from the community of their own free will. 

Skilled nursing facilities- A skilled nursing facility is staffed by nurses and other staff members to assist residents with daily living activities. They are generally dependent on staff for assistance in multiple areas of self care including, but not limited to, medication management, access to health care and help with bathing, dressing, and accessing activities. Residents tend to live in community with one another inside one general space such as a room, shared room, or small studio-type apartment. 

Dementia care facilities- These facilities are designed with safety and compassion in mind. These types of facilities have a larger staff to resident ratio and most residents rely on staff for assistance with every area of life. From toileting to accessing food and medication, a dementia care facility is helpful for residents who need full care outside of their home. 

If the time comes that you can no longer be at home, there are multiple options to support you or someone you love. Research the types of communities in your area and make sure your finances and plans are geared towards funding the option that best suits your needs.  

Supporting Someone You Love with a Chronic or Terminal Illness

By Roz Jones

There are times when we have to step up to the plate and do some very hard things. Few things are harder than supporting someone with a chronic or terminal illness. Though difficult, it’s an honor to be a support to someone as they walk out their final life experiences. 

Supporting someone you love with a chronic or terminal illness won’t have a playbook. There isn’t a step-by-step manual listing out where to walk, what to say, and how to be. You’re going to figure things out as you go but even though there aren’t any specific rules, there are some common practices that will make things a bit more comfortable. 

Get used to being uncomfortable- The sooner you can open up to the fact things are going to be uncomfortable, the sooner you can be open to managing whatever happens. Having a “whatever it takes” attitude and letting your loved one know you are there regardless of how uncomfortable things may be will help them focus on their own needs rather than worrying about yours. 

Ask- It’s that simple. Ask how you can help, when you can help, and if you can help. Your job is to offer and their job is to allow you in or set a safe boundary to keep you on the ready if they are not up for company or assistance. 

Listen- Lots of support comes from simply being there and listening. People are do-ers and in their doing, feel like they are making a difference. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to sit in companionship and offer your support.  

Meet people wherever they are emotionally- You can expect a wide range of emotions as your loved one comes to terms with their situation. You may see every emotion on any given day. From denial and anger to resignation or peace. Try to meet your loved one where they are and engage with them in a peaceful and loving way. 

Learn from the journey- Though we don’t all know when our time will come to die; we can be assured it is coming. Going through an end-of-life experience with someone else can help you better prepare for your own experience. Learn from them and decide for yourself what matters to you when you think about your own end-of-life needs. How you want your medical care, financial care, and family to care for you.  


Supporting someone you love with a chronic illness will bring out the best you have to offer. It is an honor and a privilege to support someone as they navigate the final days of their lives. Don’t put too much pressure on performance. Be compassionate and caring and the rest will fall into place.