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.  

Talking to Aging Parents About End-of-Life Matters

By Roz Jones

There comes a time when family roles switch. Traditionally, parents are the leaders of the family and make the decisions and set the tone for how things are done under their roof. As parents age, this can shift if there are medical or other issues at hand. 

Sometimes families have to switch up roles and adult children must step in to help parents make end of life decisions. This can be uncomfortable if there hasn’t been much discussion leading up to the role reversal. Still, talking to aging parents about end-of-life matters is always a good thing. 

Why? 

Talking about end-of-life matters preserves dignity- If your parents lived life well, they likely made the best choices they could under the circumstances and deserve to live out their lives in a dignified way. When adults become frail, they appear to be more like toddlers than thriving and vital adults. It’s easy to forget that they were once independent and able to care for their own needs. Talking about end-of-life expectations can help them preserve their dignity by respecting where they want to live, what boundaries they have on their medical care and day-to-day living, and their wishes about their death experience and how their remains and estate are managed. 

Talking about end-of-life matters eliminates confusion- The earlier you can speak with aging parents about the legal protections available for themselves and their estate, the easier things will be in their absence. Being open about advance directives, wills, trusts, and other important topics makes things easier for you if you are managing their care or estate. Don’t wait until your aging parent is too frail or ill to engage in a mature conversation to find out what they have taken care of and what vulnerabilities there may be. The sooner the better.  


Talking about end-of-life matters brings families together- There’s something about facing mortality that humbles people and helps them keep the main thing the main thing. Talking with your aging parents creates an opportunity to say things that you don’t wan to leave unsaid and to say thank you for all they have done to raise you, love you, and be there for you when you needed them so much. Many people hold onto life because they have regrets or fears. You can help your parents feel peace and love by having important conversations that bring healing and comfort. 

Talking to your parents about aging and end-of-life plans isn’t morbid. It’s a mature and necessary part of life. The sooner you can sort out what your parents expect, how they are going to manage their expectations, and what role you will play in the plan, the easier you can be prepared and ready when the time comes.