Planned Senior Living

Planned Senior Apartment, Independent Living, And Congregate Living Facilities

Tired of dealing with a larger house and no longer tied to their current community, some seniors downsize and look for residences that are easier to maintain. Some will head to suburban subdivisions or rural locales occupied by persons of all ages. Others, however, will look to planned residential developments targeted to seniors.

These seniors are still independent and ambulatory, but they may have minor physical impairments and health problems. They no longer want responsibility for the usual home and household chores, and they are attracted by the prospects of new social opportunities to combat their loneliness in a secure environment (Brecht, 2002).

Historically, nonprofit sponsors usually owned these facilities, but since the early 1980's, developments by for-profit sponsors are more common. High-rise apartment complexes, small patio homes, and cottages on small lots may all populate this category, and some residential complexes will contain a mix of these building types. All types of tenant arrangements are possible. Rental apartments may offer monthly or yearly contracts, but condominiums and cooperatives are increasingly popular.

When they were first developed, the services of planned living settings were often limited to building and grounds maintenance. Later versions offered a fuller array of services, including housekeeping, security, demand-responsive transportation, planned social and recreational activities, exercise fitness centers, and wellness checks. In other complexes, it is usual to find a common dining room where all the residents of the building can eat together. The presence o this communal space is sometimes the basis for labeling these options as congregate living as opposed to independent living facilities or senior apartments, the latter labels being preferred by the private sector.

Some of these residential complexes may accommodate a frailer group of seniors than others and offer more supportive services if they are in states with less stringent licensing care criteria. On the other hand, liability and insurance concerns may discourage a facility from offering such supportive services. This category also includes some affordable rental properties with supportive services that are funded by government-assisted housing programs.

The options of planned living residences vary in their size and luxuriousness. Some will offer scaled-down housing accommodations (smaller rooms, kitchenettes), but higher-end buildings can offer relatively large two or three-bedroom apartments with all possible amenities. The number of units in these facilities can vary dramatically, ranging from 20 to well over 300 units, and the architectural aesthetics can vary, as well. Monthly rents can range from less than $1,000 to more than $5,000.

From the outside, these planned residential alternatives are generally indistinguishable from other housing. Inside, their communal areas may consist of a simple large room where meals are served and occasional lectures are held. Additionally, they can include libraries, craft rooms, and spacious and well-appointed common areas for formal dining, lectures, and social events. Office space may be available for the activities of social workers or case managers. The apartments may contain design features sensitive and kitchens designed with safety and ease of use in mind, and including some type of emergency alert system - pull cords or emergency response systems.

A final distinction is important: Some of these properties that offer assisted living and nursing care. Seniors who seek accommodations for the here and now will prefer stand-alone facilities. Alternatively, seniors are nearby in the event of their becoming impaired may find comfort in occupying a multilevel facility.

The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.